Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Haitian Friends

It is hot. Haiti hot.
My body is so tired, but I can’t sleep. So, I’m sitting in the moonlight, writing a blog post. I would rather sleep. But, I can’t.
Coming to Haiti this fourth time was as much about seeing my Haitian friends as volunteering for the program. Genette, Magdala, Filomen, Guerlie, Esther. I love that we have carved our niche into this program and that, not only do people remember us, but big hugs are to be had whenever we see our midwife friends. Today, even the cook at the Midwives for Haiti house remembered me saying, “Aren’t you the one who sang, “Kijan ou ye? Kijan ou ye?” I launched into a chorus of the song we had made up our very first year here. It is a simple, nonsense song of the few Haitian Creole phrases that we knew. How are you? I don’t know. Not now. People love that song!
I saw Genette yesterday for the first time. She is as strong and competent as ever. I kept trying to ask her if there were any specific trouble areas with the program that she wanted me to work on. She just said that everything was moving along fine. She later showed me her new house that she is renting with her husband, Louinet. It is a cement structure, two rooms — a living room and an adjoining room that contains their bed, their dining room table and a stove and fridge. This is a huge step up from her previous home that didn’t even have electricity. I am so happy for her! I see the framed Sapling Award that she received at the MANA conference last year. There is also a snowy TV turned on, practically the first that I’ve seen in Haiti. Her position as Clinical Director of Midwives for Haiti is helping her move up in the world. She deserves it.
Magdala, Filomen, Ibanez, Paulene, Marie Ange and Judeline are the midwives at the mobile clinic. There is one student that accompanies us as well. Ami and I are with them and I am skeptical that they are going to need 8 midwives to do the clinic day. Boy, was I wrong! We say 82 women in about 5 hours. I was exhausted and overwhelmed by the end. Not having eaten and coming down with a cold did not help my depleted energy level. Did I say that I haven’t been sleeping? It’s too hot.
But Magdala and the midwives were so happy to see us. I was reminded of how hard they work. Heck, they do those clinics 4 days a week. I was wiped out after just one and need to take tomorrow off. We saw mostly healthy mothers and babies which was a treat. We did, however, also identify one woman with extremely high blood pressure (200s over 100s), one woman with a prenatal breast abscess and yet another woman who appeared to be in labor and yet, not really. She kept complaining of pain, but I did not palpate a contraction when she said so. Maybe it was a UTI, false labor, some other mystery complication, but we drove her and her sister back to the hospital in Hinche at the end of the day.
In the meantime, Viola and Mary Louise are making fast friends with the girls at the orphanage. I finally returned around 5pm to see the girls playing soccer, Mary Louise getting her hair braided by Barbara, and Viola being loved on by Sofia and some of the younger girls. Barbara even wrote Viola a secret letter. She wrote, "Dear Princess Vayola, I am happy to see you. I want to be your friend..." This is a major victory. Go Viola!!

I am happy to announce that we are all happy and well here in Haiti, minus a few stomach upsets. Kenel, our Creole teacher and Haitian son, is going to Port Au Prince tomorrow with 11 other young men from Maison Fortune. They will all be taking the national college entrance exam that allows 100 lucky (or connected) (or rich) young Haitians to attend the State University for free. If I am understanding correctly, the boys have other opportunities lined up for them, if they don’t make this slim cut. Most likely Kenel will enter the Catholic University in the fall, sponsored by the Virginia parishes that support Maison Fortune.
Gladius is another one of our translators. He will be going to the US in 2 weeks to attend a community college in Virginia. This is huge!! We are so happy for all of our Haitian friends and their continued opportunities.
We feel blessed for friends and community, as we build relationships even here. Viola, as expected, is speaking Creole already!! M kontan wey ou — I am happy to see you!

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