Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
We had dinner in a restaurant. Our friends had to fight a lot of Saturday night traffic on Delmas to pick us up, so we didn’t sit down to eat until about 8 pm. We asked the couple what they thought the solution was to the tent cities. We agreed that it is a difficult problem to solve. L has met with one of the camp leaders to offer employment to some of the people living in camps who qualify.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
As the traffic picked up, our bus began passing other vehicles. We had one scary moment in the passing lane when we were barrelling toward a truck and it didn't seem as if we had time to get over. "Yikes!" I said right before our bus driver pulled back into the right lane ahead of the truck we were passing, avoiding an accident by the hair of his chinney-chin-chin. "I can't believe there aren't bodies all over the road," muttered the man next to me.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
The dirt holds layers of history: the lower you go, the more ancient the history. He has also found bottles and other things that the French brought over. Johannes held out a part of a bone and said, "Here's just a little piece of someone's body that tells how they died." It was a vertebrae with part of a iron rod through it.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Making prosthetics isn't a quick process; it involves making casts of legs. A kiln, pictured below, is used. The team made eight prosthetics this past week. They will also see the patients for adjustments as they get used to their new legs.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
You talked about Haitian resilience. What does that mean really? What are some examples? Can that still happen?
It is happening. It has been happening since the quake. The day after the quake, when you had kids from the slums going into the university and getting students out of the rubble. There was no international assistance there, it was Haitians helping Haitians. It was people with their bare hands getting other people out of danger. The way people have bounced back… The way we have had for instance, life coming back to the streets, street sellers being back selling vegetables, selling rice, different things… The informal sector bounced back in an incredible way. Resilience is the Haitian’s way of accepting conditions. In any country of the world you would have what you had in Chile, you would have people looting, people just reacting violently. Haitians were incredibly disciplined after what happened. And I think it is something which is linked to Haitian experience, within the last two centuries. It’s something which is linked to a long history of resistance first and way after that facing incredible conditions of life.
Then, also recently, the following anonymous comment was posted on the Corbett list.
I have never posted due to the fact I live and work here as a private individual and have done for many years. I employ people and would not want to jeopardise mine or my friends' livelihoods by offending the wrong people with my subversive thoughts about reality, dignity and decency.
Anyway, my point -
The thing that troubles me is that I keep reading how resilient Haitians are.
Well the truth is that they are just like anybody else - they are upset and badly shaken by events like anybody would be. It is almost as if one has to worry less about Haitians in peril because
they can handle more stress than your average human being. Almost an excuse not to afford them the concern that one would an American, Frenchman, Paraguayan or whatever.
This is wrong.
I also agree with this comment. There is something self-serving, especially now, about focusing on the resilience of Haitians. If we think they are so tough, perhaps it gives us a pass on doing our part to help them. You know, "Oh, they're Haitians. They're tough. They'll be alright. Yes, I know they are missing limbs and family members, but they are used to things like this and it doesn't bother them as much as if it happened to, well, me." In some ways emphasizing Haitian resilience is dehumanizing.
If we want to speak of the Haitians' resilience, let's speak of admiring it, of it inspiring us to act, to show our own toughness in responding to a catastrophe of huge magnitude.
I'm sure the little girl pictured above is resilient. She is one of the children living at Gertrude's orphanage.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Yes, that is a cow grazing by the ocean. A new pier is also being constructed and many of our American friends hope that container ships will be able to dock and unload at Les Cayes. Many people have told us that they hope one of the responses to the earthquake is that governmental control and functions are decentralized from Port-au-Prince, making functioning throughout the rest of the country more effective and efficient. We will see.
Monday, June 07, 2010
Saturday, June 05, 2010
Friday, June 04, 2010
Dr. John helped a lot of children this past week, many of whom had ear infections. John said, "I think I have seen so many ear infections because people are living outside. And now it is starting to rain."
Examining children's ears can be a challenging process. Some of them look upon the otoscope as an instrument of evil. They want nothing to do with it. We had to hold one little girl down on an examining table to get a good look inside her ears. Others who aren't quite as afraid, put their shoulders up as John places the scope in their ear. He jokes, "Kids don't understand that when they put their shoulder up, it makes it hard to see in the ear. I've told them but they insist on doing it over and over."
Many children have temperatures and other symptoms that are caused by these ear infections, and so it is important to diagnose them so an antibiotic can be prescribed. We see one child's middle ear that is half-filled with puss. The babies feel much better when their ear infections are treated. And so do the moms.
Meet the lovely Jenny G. She is 30-years-old, gainfully employed, and lives in a tent, which is better, I guess, than the first two months after the earthquake, when she slept in a car. Making Jenny’s life more difficult is that she has a severely ailing heart. The medical solutions are almost extinguished for her and as John would say, she needs the knife.
Jenny had surgery to repair heart valves in 1999; now she needs surgery to replace them. She looks good, but had to stop a couple of times and rest when she was climbing the stairs. She is in congestive heart failure, with a number of the symptoms that go along with this condition. If anyone reading has contacts with hospitals or medical centers or cardiac surgeons who might be interested in helping Jenny please e-mail me.
It’s hard to sit next to Jenny and know that she has a fixable problem, except for the fact that she was born in the wrong country.
We’ve heard several people’s stories about where they were and what they were doing during the earthquake. One woman was outside and realized what was happening, as she had felt tremors before. But some other people around her, didn’t know what was happening and thought the loud noises were shooting; they ran into their houses and then the houses collapsed and they were killed.
Another woman was at work, on the fourth story of a building. When the earthquake started, she sat frozen at her desk, while all of her co-workers fled the building. She is in poor health. She said the building first swayed to and fro and then it went up and down. But it didn’t collapse. When the earthquake was over, her colleagues rushed back into the building and helped her out, as her health isn’t good. When she walked home from work, she saw body parts in the street and heard people calling from buildings.
Another woman was in a large house during the earthquake. First she ran upstairs, and then she ran outside along with the other people in the building. No one was hurt, but the house was destroyed. She said that she couldn’t stop laughing. Even as people came by the house seriously injured, all she could do was laugh. Shock is displayed in different ways. How can this have happened? In 45 seconds 140,000 people lost their lives and there was billions of dollars in property damage. How could it seem real?
After more than three years, this blog is now true to its name, Live From Haiti, as I am typing these words from a guest house in the LaPlaine district of Port-au-Prince. Today I accompanied John to the clinic run by the Daughters of Charity. Today and yesterday were feast days (The Feast of God) so there weren’t as many children and moms at the clinic as usual; several of them were patients John had seen before, and thanks to medicine and treatment, were doing much better.
John’s doctor bag in the above photo survived the earthquake. He had stored it at the sisters, and when he came in for his first day of work on this trip, it was sitting on the chair in his exam room as if nothing had happened. Even more amazingly, one of his suitcases, which was stored at a guesthouse which collapsed during the earthquake was pulled out of the rubble.