Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thursday, November 20th

The rain continued intermittently through the night, but we slept very well, and in luxury, in comparison with all but a few of Haiti's people. And with full stomachs we set off at 7:30 am in a dilapidated tap-tap truck, and then a tap-tap boat, for Labadie to work our final pediatric blitz. Katrina laughed uncontrollably the entire road journey, while hanging on for dear life in the bed of this pick-up, as if it were a roller coaster ride. She indirectly admitted later to laughing because of shear terror.

We set up within the walls of the Hearts Together for Haiti compound; a walled area enclosing a tropical garden, a small and beautiful stone house, and a large "gazebo", a roof-covered patio. The triage process, physician assessments, and laboratory works took place in the gazebo. As in previous clinics, all children were given Albendazole, to combat parasitic infections, and vitamins, to combat the realities that accompany hunger. The pharmacy was set up on the porch of the house and a stone walkway naturally led patients from one metal gate, where Jo admitted them, to the gazebo, and finally to the pharmacy, for prescribed medications, before exiting through the only other gate in the wall. It was somewhat of an idyllic work environment, even with the threatening skies and occasional downpour. The children had similar illnesses to those in the Bod me Limbe area - pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhea (with many reports of seeing worms) and skin infections. But overall, the general level of health was much higher in Labadie than seen in our previous clinics, most likely due to a much higher standard of living in this community.

Hearts Together for Haiti has been fostering these people for more than 10 years, and part of their effort includes a full time medical clinic staffed by Cuban doctors, one of whom worked with us today, along with a rather stern Cuban nurse.

A relatively short work day, we said our sad good-byes to the translators around 4 pm, on the dock of the Labadie shore, promising to e-mail and return as soon as possible.

We boarded our boat back toward Cormier Plage with many of us feeling the heaviness of our regrets and the cruel injustice of not being able to do more for our worthy working companions, almost all of whom had not experienced the dignity of a single day's work since our last mission in May. Six months.

Our final evening in Haiti was spent reminiscing about the week's events, listening to Jo's legitimate laments about the realities of the difficult life he has chosen in serving Haiti's people, and discussing future plans to return. How privileged we are to be on the giving end.


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