West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Clinic Day 2

It’s 4:30 AM in Haiti.  I am sitting on the couch in the guest house, listening to the rooster (Haiti taught me that roosters don’t only crow at daybreak) and the crickets, and some distant traffic sounds.  Also one of the beds in the girls’ room squeaks whenever its occupant turns over.  I think that may be what woke me up.  I enjoy being up early here, listening to the night and thinking about everything that has happened during the day.

Last night we had a rainstorm,
which interrupted the internet and kept me from posting to the blog.
First came the wind, rustling the trees and blowing a cool breeze through the windows. The guest house windows are covered with large wooden slats or louvers that open and close, and they creak a bit with the wind.  Then came the water, in great gushes and bucketfuls, pouring down on the tin roof and putting  a halt to ordinary conversation.  Standing on the front step of the guest house, Robbie and Jenn and Sherye and I watched the rain, sipping scotch (Robbie had a Prestige instead).  The water fills the drain that runs down the middle of the driveway and under the house, a heavy steady rain to wash away dust and the heat of the day.  Watching the rain made me suddenly happy (or was it the scotch!)  Something natural and restorative about the water cleansing the earth.

Day 2 in Clinic, which was actually the day BEFORE yesterday, had a few highlights.  I sent Jean Robert to a local Haitian pharmacy, to get some medications we did not bring with us, or could not find in our supplies.  Somehow I have a list of supplies I brought, and remember packing in Memphis, but by the time we arrive with all our bags and unload at the school’s pharmacy, there are things missing.  Like alcohol wipes.  We found a small box that got us through the first day, but John and Brandy are checking glucose levels on the adults and hemoglobin (iron) levels on most of the kids, so they need lots of alcohol wipes!  Also we needed more diabetic medication and medicine for worms.  Surprisingly, some folks asked me for medicine for constipation!  I had not thought to bring that with me to Haiti!   I gave Jean Robert a list, and $100, and he returned about an hour later with the bill from the pharmacy, stating he did not have enough money.  I could not figure out why $100 was not enough to buy alcohol wipes and 3 bottles of medication.  Turns out my request for alcohol wipes had become an order for 15 boxes of 200 wipes each, for a total of $3000 gourdes (about $75 US dollars)   Fortunately the misunderstanding was corrected, and I sent Jean Robert back to buy ONE box of alcohol wipes.  John Mutin was my banker, by the way.   We needed cash for several things, including tickets to a concert on Sunday afternoon at Holy Trinity, performed by the children of St Vincent’s.  None of us carry much cash to the school every day, except John apparently, so he kept lending me money for our various needs until I could get back to the guest house and repay the “loan”.  It reminds me of being home, when the “BANK of DAD” is in action.

Adam and Sherye went to the kindergarten class to read a book in sign language.  Sherye thought she would read to 3 separate classrooms, but they all crowded into one room for the event.  I choose the word crowded carefully, because there were 60 kindergarteners, with their teachers, in the room.  Stephen captured it on video.  Brown bear, Brown bear, what do you see?  60 deaf kids signing Yellow Fish, Purple Cat, Blue Dog.

There was a kid in clinic with a heart murmur, that was picked up by the CBU nurses when they were here 2 weeks ago.After listening to his chest,   I called for all the “medical people”, including John, Brandy, Shruti, and also Robbie and Andrew who are planning to go to medical school.  It was a challenge for them to make a diagnosis without benefit of ultrasound or other imaging techniques we have so readily available in the United States.   I will tell Pere Sadoni, so that hopefully the child can see a local cardiologist.
I also met the eye doctor who works at St Vincent’s.  She has several pieces of optical equipment in her clinical room, and was checking the vision on a patient when we met.  I was happy to give her the eye glasses we brought with us, including several pairs of pediatric size.  I also gave her the name of Frenel, one of my favorite students, to check his vision.  I used to think he was completely blind, until one day sitting in my lap he told me the colors in a book we were looking at.  I pray that the eye doctor can help him with some type of glasses.

Working at this school involves a lot of hope, as you can see.  Hope that the small gifts we bring of supplies and skills will open a door for a child to get what they need.  Hope that reading to them, playing with them, teaching them  will help them adapt to a difficult world. For  handicapped persons, even in the “developed” world this is a difficult life.  Jenn and Sherye and I prayed together yesterday morning, “Let not the needy be forgotten. oh Lord. nor the hope of the poor taken away”

Susan Nelson

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