5:30 AM and all is well in Haiti. I wake up in the room with my room mate Sherye who is already awake and checking her phone. The rooster has been crowing at intervals through the night, as always I wonder why in Haiti they do that. I always thought roosters crowed only at dawn.
Our guest house is lovely, managed by a Haitian man named Ernso and his wife. They serve delicious Haitian food and plenty of it. There is a swimming pool, into which we all sank gratefully as soon as we got home from our day at St Vincent’s yesterday. And they have AC in the rooms! The life of luxury. There is one small detail which bears telling. Sherye and I have a room on the second floor. Reached by a staircase of course. Except that the stairs aren’t all the same height. Who knew that a half inch difference from one step to another could make such a difference? Another part of life we take for granted, like standards in building.
Our team went right to work yesterday unpacking 30 suitcases full of medical supplies and setting up for clinic. As usual John Mutin found the power connection, tables,scale, fresh water and most of the team ran from one room to another with gloves, alcohol wipes, urine chem stix, medical record cards, lancets (for pricking small fingers), bandaids, batteries (had to hunt most of the morning for those), thermometers, BP cuffs, tongue depressors, otoscopes, hand sanitizer….everything to furnish a small but mighty medical clinic. John and his “crew” set up on the stage (basically a raised platform in the school courtyard) and Dr Judy and I, with the medical students Brittany and Harrison, set up inside the library. One folding table and two chairs each and we were ready to go. An empty box for trash. What else did we need? Nothing but darling children, most of them 6 or so yesterday, and almost all deaf. With their names embroidered on their blue school uniforms. Kenly. Richardine. Fleurisme. Withelmas Louis (a girl). Neillly Stevenson. All with that six year old endearing cuteness. Harrison, a third year medical student at UT, quickly was put to work doing well child exams. Of course, being deaf, the children spoke in sign language. Sherye had given her usual morning bus route-sign language lessons so Harrison was able to tell the children his name and ask theirs. Many smiles all around, most missing a few front teeth.
Hilarie was one of the day;s heroes; she used Brittany’s computer to access wifi (YES ST VINCENTS HAS WIFI THANKS TO TOM LANDRY) and log into our electronic medical record database. Oh the joy of looking up a child’s record to see their last weight/height and did they have a heart murmur noticed last time? And what was their last hemoglobin count (iron level?) What a concept! Medical history in real time. The sweetest part was identifying multiple children who were anemic in the past (like in 2014 or 2015) and are now normal. A testament to what I call the John Mutin vitamin program. We started bringing cases of vitamins with iron about 5 years ago, at John’s suggestion, and asking the school staff to give one to every child every day with their lunch. This has had intermittent successful implementation over the years as school administration has changed, but obviously it is WORKING! Hallelujah!
Our other day’s hero was Dr Peter Mercredi, a PhD researcher from St Jude’s who is Haitian American and speaks fluent Kreyol. He was invaluable as a translator, his name was called about every 2 minutes by multiple team members, and he endeared himself to the children and St Vincent’s staff quickly. Thanks be to God for his presence with us this trip.
Well, the power has gone out twice while I have been writing this blog, and breakfast starts in 5 minutes….so more later. I apologize for not writing yesterday but any one who has travelled with us knows the limitations of wifi access and sheer energy at the end of the day. Thank you all who prayed for us to get here safely, we sailed through customs without a single hitch. No one searched our bags, no one even looked at us twice. The power of God’s protection. We feel it covering all of us as we take off for another day with the children.