Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday in Haiti

Fun in the sun, the hot, hot sun continues. The clinic, with Monica at her chair, continues to see patients. Audrey did exams on more than 500 children today at St. Pierre School. The flouride team treated more than 700 students. This is one sign of the earthquake's effects ... the people coming in from Port-au-Prince to move in with relatives in the country bring their children and swell the schools.

Eric is still hanging lights in the orphanage. He was playing soccer with the kids yesterday and took a spill in the gravel, cutting his chin. This morning there were at least three docs examining and irrigating the wound. He is fine.

I was with Doug on the away team today. We went to the school and church at Trianon, where more than 250 people came through to see the doctors. Until 2 p.m., I was the keeper of the door, and only once channeled my inner Roger Matthews. Young men were trying to slip into the line ahead of crippled old people and feverish babies, so I had a good yell at them, with the help of an interpreter.

In the afternoon, Audrey and I -- along with some other folks from the flouride team -- continued our English conversation sessions with teenagers and young adults from the St. Pierre church. A young man I have known for three trips now -- Alexei, really led the sessions. He is a wonderful teacher.

And here is part of the real damage of the quake. Once you acknowledge the terrible losses of life and limb, the long-range effects on these young people are going to doom a generation. Alexei is 24. The past two trips he has told me of his deep desire to attend university and become an Episcopal priest. Thanks to Pere Jeannot, he had taken ONE SEMESTER at university, beginning last fall. The university is now destroyed, with no immediate plans on how to restart, and Alexei is back in Mirebalais with nothing to do.

Or the girlfriend of Dr. Tony, the HOM clinic dentist. She has been helping in the dental suite this week. She was ONE SEMESTER away from graduating as a full-fledged dentist. And now she is in Mirebalais, almost a dentist, but not quite, with nothing to do.

There are also lingering stresses. One of our drivers, Isaiah, lost his wife in the quake. He is now a single parent of five little children. Pere Jeannot's wife jumped from a balcony with their three children as the building fell. Her injured foot is almost better, but she still refuses to sleep indoors. The backyard of the rectory is a little campground of tents. When the wind blows, suddenly and hard, everyone at the clinic gets nervous, because apparently there was a sudden wind just before the quake, and everyone is afraid it will happen again.

Everyone is grateful for prayers. But soon it will be time to begin to imagine solutions for some of these problems. As the Rev. Lauren Stanley told us last month, Haiti is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Some of this will require lots of money, lots of ingenuity, and lots of commitment over a long time to repair.

+ Kit

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday in Haiti

Can you say hot? Can you say tired? Everyone is working hard in the heat. The clinic is seeing a steady stream of patients. No evidence of earthquake related injuries, just the usual round of chronic conditions relating to malnutrition and lack of health care. The children are beautiful ... they always are.

Doug is out on the mobile team in Noyeux today. They have to take four by fours, ford streams, and set up shop under tarps in a field. Audrey is amusing the children at Trianon school with the mobile flouride team. Eric is off climbing on some roof somewhere and I am trying not to watch. Monica is reveling in the dental suite. If she had seen it even two years ago, she would be even more amazed. It is good to see a patient and be able to refer them to follow-up with Dentist Tony in a few weeks.

We had a hand surgeon join us on the trip, Dr. Joe Feilla. He was able to get a ride to the Partners in Health center in Cange, where they have patients lined up for him. We can't wait for him to come back Thursday night and tell us all about it.

Internet access is erratic, so I will update as I can, but it may not be every day. Know that we are well and working hard. Keep us in prayer.

+ Kit

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday in Haiti

All of us have arrived safely. We spent yesterday unloading the clinic. All Saints was there in every pack of Rolaids and every bottle of Children's Tylenol that we unpacked, sorted and stowed away. This is a smaller team this year ... half the size of last year's trip, and we are focusing on getting through our regular mission work without the dominating presence of Roger Matthews. It is different, but Dominique is holding up well and all of us are willingly working together.

Monica is delighted beyond belief with the excellent condition of the dental room. A full time dentist employed by HOM has been seeing patients regularly. She has set up her equipment and is excited to see patients, beginning tomorrow.

Doug will be on the traveling medical clinic that is going out into the countryside to do basic medical care. Audrey will go with the flouride team into schools to do preliminary exams of the children for possible referral to the clinic. Eric is working with the construction guys. But we are all flexible, and any of this could change.

Pere Jeannot's family is still living outside in tents in his back yard. His wife was in their home in Port au Prince during the earthquake and jumped with the children to safety from the balcony. She is still shaken by the experience and so far feels more comfortable out of doors. Our construction team has looked at all the buildings and there are no more than superficial cracks, so we are all sleeping well, some in the Hotel Mirage, and some in the St. Louis rectory.

We did not see much earthquake damage on the way out from the airport ... although at the airport, the main terminal is unusable and we cleared customs in a cargo shed. The main damage is in the city center, which we do not ever see. Out in the countryside, things appear much the same.

Today church lasted 3 hours, but we all had an excellent time. There was lots of good music, and I preached with Dominique translating. We had special prayers for Roger. Pere Jeannot's three-year-old son, Olivier, joined us for the procession and spent some time wandering around on the altar or helping the musicians. He is getting very big!

Love to all, and I will post again if I can get to a working computer. Keep us in prayer.

-- Pere Kit

Friday, March 19, 2010

On Our Way to Haiti

We are in the airport in Miami, waiting to board the flight to Port-au-Prince. Doug Powe and Eric Hegg should already be there, having traveled separately yesterday, slept in Ft. Lauderdale and gotten on their Haiti flights early this morning. They will have to wait as the rest of us straggle in on our various flights throughout the day. By 4 p.m. or so we should be on the road to Mirebalais, God and the crazy customs situation willing.

It is good to reconnect with old friends from previous trips and to meet new friends joining us for the first time. All of us are in pretty good spirits. Of course, we are still safely in America, swathed with the comforting sounds of CNN on the airport TVs, the vast array of junk food spread out around us, resting in air conditioning that is maybe just a tiny bit too cold.

All of this is not what it will be like in Port-au-Prince.