- NEC Guest Blogger
Haiti 2014 - Day 2
Day 2 : I am happy to announce that I actually slept quite well last night. We all got up and had breakfast and enjoyed the morning. Heather, Mindy, Tiffany, Pam, Diane and a nurse named Tina from Ohio went to Rivage Community Church with me. We were welcomed by the small group in attendance and we watched them sing and pray. The little kids in their Sunday best were so very sweet and before long we all had a little one sitting in our laps. The little girl on my lap had on a bright pink dress and knew all the answers to the questions. The children loved having their picture taken and seeing the images on our cameras. They also would giggle when we showed them pictures and videos on our phones.
After an hour or so we were invited to Oaxanne's house for a meeting. She is a dynamic community leader, church leader, artist and matron (lay midwife). We sat around her kitchen table and discussed the current state of Rivage community, which is the poorest part of Hinche because it is by the river so the trash collects there and the river floods during the rainy season bringing disease. Oaxanne's son, Gampson, and her brother an attorney were there as well as Mitial a translator. Later in the meeting the two teachers arrived. We were informed that the woman who they rent the school land/bubbling for was not going to extend their lease so Oaxanne's bought the plot of land in front of her home and they wanted to build a new school building there. Oaxanne's also bought a large plot of land just off the main highway a few minutes from Rivage.
We began discussing sustainability with them. I have been worried about what this community would do if I was ever unable to fundraise for them. How do you continue to make the school run and pay the teachers if your funding goes away? They had a donor that helped pay for a meal a day for the children the first year the school opened but then after a year they quit spending money. The had to stop providing lunch and many children go hungry. Some children at the school are orphans and just sleep at neighbors homes but they are unable to feed them and the school meal for them and many others was the only meal they would have all day. The children are so hungry the teachers said they say there stomach hurt and sometimes just have to lay on the ground and rest.
One idea we had was for them to breed and sell chickens and goats. Now that Oaxanne's has the plot of land on the outskirts of town they could raise the animals there. They loved the idea and were taking notes through out the meeting. We also discussed a community garden and technical training for all the children who will only get a sixth grade education so they may have a skill to provide for themselves. The community leaders have many hopes and dreams for their community. They would like to build a school with a kitchen and bathroom. They would like to it to have a room for each grade and a total of 6 teachers. They already have 100 children and have to turn many away. They would like to also build an orphanage because there are so many children whom have families that can not care for them or feed them.
They have met with an engineer today and will work on plans and an itemized list of all their hopes and dreams. We will meet on Wednesday evening to review and hopefully come up with a plan. We headed back to the house and sat on the patio drinking a cold bottle of coke and visiting until lunch was served at 2. Then a wave exhaustion hit me and I actually took a rest till 3. Then we headed to the hospital for our tour. It looked much the same filled with women and babies and people everywhere. The postpartum, antepartum and post op wards had 10+ beds with women lying in them. The labor unit has 5 beds and the exam tables that they give birth on were actually all new. But it was still dingy and dark. The thing that hits me the most is the disparity. How can it be so great?
There are two amazing nicu nurses here from Ohio state university working on a grant project to open a nicu. It is amazing. It opens in April. They have been training nurses for months and very soon preterm babies and babies born sickly who used to be left to die will now have am fighting chance. The catchment zone for our hospital serves about 600,000 people and the nicu will be able to care for 7 babies. Incredible change from last year.