Trip to the North!!!
Monday night, we were sitting around the MTI (Medical Teams International) guest house dinner table and Ted who is the Country director for MTI (www.medicalteams.org) was talking about the trip he was taking to the North of Haiti to check in on a clinic that saw over 1,200 Cholera patients in a span of two weeks. The Cholera is contained in that area now, just as fast as it started it was contained. Ted however was going up to make sure things are running as normal.
James and Jeff are two firefighters from Oregon we are here volunteering with MTI. They came as last minute volunteers to help with the Cholera and were thankfully not needed as they thought they would be. The five of us left Tuesday morning at five am to head up to Port de Paix on the Northern coast of Haiti. It was a beautiful trip across Haiti and through the mountains. When we arrived at Port de Paix we drove to the hospital that MTI has partnered with. Driving along the road looking to the left through mountains was the beautiful view of the island of Tortuge. I felt a bit as though I was in a movie about pirates set in an old western town.
The hospital was down to six patients in the Cholera ward! Ted walked me all around the property; he showed me the children’s home on the property, the maternity ward, and the new quarantined Cholera area. From there we grabbed some lunch at the guest house and headed East to visit the North West Haiti Christian Mission (NWHCM)-this was the reason I came on the trip! Last week when Kurt was here I was trying to find all the schools for the deaf in Haiti and the NWHCM came up. When Ted mentioned he was visiting the NWHCM on this trip to the north, he asked me if I would like to join them and visit the school! Of course I jumped at the chance!
I cannot say that I learned all that the NWHCM (www.nwhcm.org) does while I was there as I spent most of my time with Courtney who is in charge of their special education program which the deaf education falls under. Courtney showed me around the Miriam center which focuses on disabled children; her mission is to make the invisible visible. She showed me around her class rooms as children and mothers from the outreach program played in the yard. Courtney was very energetic and excited to share with me all the opportunities the children at the Miriam center have-I was more than impressed. As I walked into the hands on room I tiered up when I saw the Dr. Seuss mural on the wall, “Oh the places you go.”; my mom gave me that book when I graduated high school and set out on the next chapter of live, at 25 I feel so blessed to have been so many places in life.
From there Fredas, the head teacher of the deaf program took me across the street to visits NWHCM’s school; there is one classroom for the deaf students. In total there are about 30 students in the program with younger children in the morning and more advanced students in the afternoon. There is a third class taught in sign language at the Miriam center for children who are delayed or have developmental disabilities. It seems to be a great program that is able to bless many people in the North that otherwise would be left behind and forgotten. The world needs more people like Courtney and those who server at NWHCM. I am happy to have visited and look forward to learning more about the program there and stay connected!
We wrapped up the night with a delicious meal at a marina and sea side restaurant. We sat on the water and over looked Tortuge as we watched a cruise ship pass between the deep passage running between the islands. As I watched the boat pass I reflected on all the things I saw though out the day, I couldn’t help but wonder what the passengers on the boat thought as they looked at the island of Haiti. So many things are written in the news, Cholera and poverty, Voodoo and political unrest. Although those things exist in Haiti, this beautiful island has so much to offer with its rich culture full of beauty and passion. I went to bed feeling full and thankful for the path I am walking down and the opportunities that have been presented before me.
Wednesday after a delicious breakfast we departed to head West, MTI has partnered with another small clinic in the remote area of Lacoma. There is a small guest house there and a clinic that was clean and appeared impressive to my ignorant medical eyes. They do the best they can of course, and with the help of MTI and teams the clinic is in better shape than ever before. Haiti is a place where people do not seek medical help because it will be three days walk to arrive at a place that might not be open or might refuse them as a patient; there are not standards here as we have in the US and other countries. Clinics are often understaffed and under stocked and charge far more than a typical Haitian can afford. People turn to Voodoo practices or wait out their illness in pain and agony. I cannot comprehend nor understand what it is like to live that way. I have been blessed with many things I take for granted such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol PM, band aids and disinfectant; one time I even bought a crème that was supposed to remove scars. Had I only known then I would end up in a country where children have limbs cut off because their splinter became severely infected, perhaps I would have saved my money.
Every day my eyes are opened. The immersion of a culture that is so foreign to me-although at times is a struggle, it is also a blessing. I feel as though I often ramble on in my blogs, but I can’t help but try to put into words all the things I experience here. I have been blessed with such an amazing opportunity, I wish I could share it with everyone I know and love, everyone whose path I cross. At the end of the day I continually find myself, no matter what the hardships I experienced, I find myself thanking God for the opportunity I have every day by being here; for the immersion in this culture, and all the relationships I have formed, for the growth I see in myself, the strength I gain by getting out of bed each day and doing what God has called me for.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” -Colossians 3:15