Finally after a year of trying we opened a mobile clinic here in Garcin, last Tuesday we had our first day of clinic. It was very successful, we saw fifty-five people. One of them had TB, a very important find. How patiently the people wait to be seen and are so thankful for the help. It is truly a pleasure to serve these people. We are giving a discounted rate and for the visit and the medications. Pregnant women are seen for the equivalent of an American dollar. I am so sad about the women we took to the hospital and then died; I feel had she sought help sooner it could have been avoided. So I am hoping the women of this area can receive prenatal care and education.
Our first day proved to be self-sustaining; we brought in enough money to cover the cost of the medications we had to buy and helped Sr. Julian with her expenses. When I announced the clinic at church I told the people that the clinic was theirs and in order to keep it they had to support it. We will have another clinic on Tuesday I hope it will be equally successful. I also like that Sr. Julian (a Haitian nun) and myself are working together I as the pharmacist, and she is seeing the patients’. This also means I have to ask her questions. I think this will help the people to have more confidence in Sr. Julian.
Sr. Julia is a very sweet person who is trying to do a very good job to bring health care to the area. She has been trained here in Haiti, and I would guess her training would be that of a nurse. She is also a very simple person, with very few personal needs. For example after working in the clinic all day she asked me if she could have a piece of bread to eat. I was already making us a lunch but was struck by her humbleness. I also think she was surprised I could cook over a fire made from wood.
I have to add that without the many donations of over the counter medications we have received this clinic could not have been as successful. Many of these medications are not even available without travelling to Port au Prince to buy them. So a big thanks to all of you that opened your heart to these needs. When we return to the United States in March we will be sending another shipping container, so if you could donate more over the counter medications to supplement the dispensary’s it will be a very great gift. We also need shoes of any size or kind. I will include a complete list soon.
On Wednesday we left for Limbe, a city in the north. I drove and driving here in Haiti is like the kids video games where they have to maneuver around many obstacles. There are goats, chickens, people, donkeys, motos, cars, and the buses coming out at you from everywhere. You also have to blow your horn when you have a curve or a hill, because the roads are so bad you drive where you can. Much of the highway had trees that casted shadows along with different colors of pavement so you have a hard time telling where the holes and speed bumps are. The speed bumps here can be very large or inverted and anyone can build one, so they are not necessarily placed in a place you would expect them to be. Buses travel at high speeds and come around curves coming into your lane. There is not much organization to driving; the rule is the biggest object has the right of way. If the town is having market day then the traffic is stopped. Everyone is beeping their horn and everyone is vying for a spot. Aggression is the only survival. I did roll down my window and threaten a semi that this is a new truck and I did not want him to scratch it. We made it safely without a scratch, but I have to admit I was certainly ready to be off of the road.
We did many things in the two days we spent in the North. Thanks to the miracle of having transportation. The truck has been such a blessing to our ministry. The first day we visited Cape Haitian and met up with the agronomist specializing in vanilla. We also tried to locate a compost project using worms, but had no luck there. The second day we visited a garden that was growing vanilla. The vanilla was not being maintained, and the garden was in complete shade, and has not flowered yet after four years. The plants were not a lot bigger than the ones in our garden that was planted a year and a half ago. In our garden the plants that have some sun light are doing better than the more shaded areas. So I am hoping we will get more successful results.
Another interesting project we visited was a factory that is taking the left over stalks from making sugar cane and making charcoal from them. Charcoal is the fuel most people use here to cook and is contributing to the deforestation of the island. We purchased a bag of their charcoal briquettes, and also some of the bio char they produce. Bio char is being used in many gardens internationally to help improve the soil. We plan to do some experiments with it in our gardens here.
We also visited a small but very interesting historical museum. They had several relics from the original Indians that had inhabited the island, along with the first settlers. It was a very small museum but we were happy to see some of the history of the country being preserved.
We never did find worms. We are looking for a type of worm that has been imported from Africa, which can tolerate the temperatures here, and will make compost very quickly. They also reproduce very fast. This compost is used instead of fertilizer, with very fascinating results. We will have to keep trying.
The women we met and stayed with Rosedanie, she is a very interesting women. She was born and spent the her first ten years in Haiti. She then moved to the US and completed her education. She moved back to Haiti after the earthquake and is working to help the people of Limbe. She returns to the US for part of each year and works as a chef to support her organization.
She was able to give us many insights into the culture of Haitians, but she also shared many of our frustrations. She ended up returning to Garcin with us and giving us the pleasure of her company for the weekend. This was very helpful as she interpreted a meeting we had with Fr. Gracia and the sisters when we visited Kalabot (the main mission) on Sunday. Although Bob and I are gaining skills with our Creole it is difficult when we have many things to discuss, and to be sure that everything is understood.
Thank you so much for your interest and your prayers,
PS. Notice the fancy medicine cabinet I built from a used packing crate. 30 years of cabinet making experience is paying off! Bob