We went to Lilevois yesterday. It was about 10-15 miles outside Port-au-Prince and it took us about 1 1/2 hours. You never move more than 10 – 20 miles an hour. The roads are dirt and concrete and filled with deep potholes. We were in Sathre today, which is a suburb of Port-au-Prince and much closer.
It’s hard to explain life in Haiti. The landscape looks like the set of a “day after” movie at Universal Studios. Everything is tan colored and dusty. All the streets in Port-au-Prince have 12 foot high walls on every side, so you feel closed in at all times. But, you have to juxtapose that with the beautiful people of Haiti, who despite the constant suffering, are kind, hopeful and peaceful. The dreary landscape is interspersed with beautiful Bougainvillea. So, you find pieces of beauty amongst the unending rubble.
Yesterday at Lilevois the weather was oppressive. I have never sweat so much in my life. This is back-breaking work. And, the Medical Aid for Haiti (MATH) employees do it four days a week. We set up clinics in dirty, hot places. The pharmacy is set up under an easy-up tent. The average field medical doctor in Haiti makes around $50 a day and the average nurse around $15-20 day. It’s difficult to witness life here and then go back to the mission house at night and look at Facebook. I see people complaining about their jobs and about how much Monday stinks, about how difficult the US economy is and about a bad experience they had at a restaurant, with the cable company or anywhere else. I’ve gotten some real life perspective on what’s worth complaining about.
As the owner of Key Hyundai, I hope I can maintain my patience at home when I get back to work. I listen to people complain about relatively minor things, compared to food and water, on a daily basis. In fact, a lot of people find this blog because they Google, “Jill Merriam annoying commercial.” That kind of luxury to a Haitian would be incomprehensible. I think about all the time wasted in the US on meaningless things, like social media, tv, game consoles, etc. If we could all take in part of that time and donate it to helping our neighbors, whether in Haiti or down the street, we could start to heal this world. It’s not healed by politicians or government. Our future doesn’t depend on who is elected POTUS. It depends on what we chose to do to help each other. I feel very passionate about that.
We saw just under 200 patients over the last two days. The good news is that the severity of illness has decreased in the last couple of years because Medical Aid to Haiti (MATH) visits these sites on a weekly basis. So, we are providing mostly acute care, eye care and skin care. We are seeing lots of untreated glaucoma, ring worm and near and far-sightedness. The most exciting part is putting a pair of glasses on a person who is minus eight and has never worn glasses!
Tomorrow is our last working day. We are so excited to go out to dinner tomorrow night. Our team is fantastic and we’ve bonded so quickly. As we all say, “this is the best trip that I’ve ever wanted to end.” I miss my family terribly. The work is difficult and the sleeping conditions are difficult because it’s so hot. But, somehow, when we get back to the mission house and have that Prestige beer and a 3 minute cold shower, you get your energy back and you are ready for another day. Until tomorrow….