West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Last Day at St. Vincents

Today we went to the school but did not have clinic.  In the morning Drew, Dr Sue Trzynka and I met with Pere Sadoni for about 2 hours, discussing our partnership.  It was an informative meeting and he expressed very graciously his appreciation for our work with the children.  We congratulated him on the beautiful new brace shop which we all toured yesterday.  We are leaving behind about $6000 worth of medications and supplies, for the Haitian pediatrician to use for the St Vincent’s children.  Also there is medication for high blood pressure and diabetes, for the adult staff to get refills on the meds we gave them in clinic. We discussed with  Pere Sadoni our concerns that many of the adult staff don’t seem to continue taking their medications, for various reasons.  He explained that the “Haitian mentality” is that you don’t take medicine unless you are sick, and being sick means you feel bad and cant get out of bed.  Once a Haitian feels better, s/he does not think s/he needs the medication anymore.  We told them that is not just  Haitian mentality, it is human nature apparently. 

The CBU nurses had an “easter egg hunt” for the children today; we led the blind children first to help them find a plastic egg with a number inside.  When they brought their number to the “bucket station” they were given a bucket with toys, candy, goodies.   Notebook paper and pencils for the older children, of course with candy as well.  “Pi wi li” it is called in Kreyol. (pronounced pee-wee-lee). Sienna wrote each child’s name on the bucket.   Robby brought watches for everyone, with bright colors. Frenel was happy with a toy car Robby gave him.  Jenn had some rubber balls with spiky rubber projections on them, which light up when you bounce them or toss them.  Great gifts for kids with limited vision, or any kid for that matter.

After the easter egg hunt, we asked Mackenson to play his guitar for us.  Mackenson is 19 years old and has grown up at the school.  He writes music and sings beautifully.  While he was singing, one of the blind boys joined us, named Hermano.  We were sitting on the “stage”, a platform built in the school courtyard, under a tin roof to block the sun (mercifully!)   Hermano tapped  on the wooden railing, and thumped his foot, snapped his fingers, making intricate rhythms along with the music.   It was fascinating.  Mackenson then invited Hermano to sing with him.  Listening to both of them was a treat.  Frenel was sitting in India’s lap and fell asleep briefly.  Mackenson encouraged all of us to sing with him on a song he wrote titled “I love Jesus”.  When John Mutin had his eyes closed and looked like he had fallen asleep, he did not join in the chorus with the rest of us.  Mackenson said to him, “You don’t love Jesus?”  That brought a good laugh to all of us. 

As we left, Mackenson brought me a gift.  Amy had shown him some watercolor techniques, and gave him some special paper and watercolor paints to use, so he made a “tableau” for me and for Sienna.  It was very touching and of course brought tears to my eyes.  It is always difficult to leave St Vincent’s, but especially on the last day.  

Our dinner was a special event; we were invited to the home of Madame Michele Bazile, who  is a physical therapist in Haiti and who has been working with Dr Bheki this week at St Vincent’s.  She  decorated her courtyard with balloons and ribbons, and had  a disc jockey playing CDs.  Fabulous food like djon-djon (black rice), picliz (haitian hot spicy cole slaw), tassot (beef), grilled and fried pouisson (fish), mango, banana, patat (potato), cassava, kashima.  All very spicy and delicious.  We felt honored to be treated so well.  Tomorrow she will go with us to Jacmel, which is west of Port au Prince and a beautiful seaside town.  Sienna and I are very excited to be seeing another part of Haiti.  

Someday I dream of coming to Haiti for an extended period, with time to tour the country.  To see the mountains, drive north to Cap Haitien (where Christopher Columbus first landed) and to the Artibonite, to see Paul Farmer’s compound.  To experience more of  Haiti than we see on our short trips to Port au Prince.  Maybe Sienna and I will do this someday together.
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