Good evening friends! I am homesick for my family tonight. Still, we had a successful second day at our medical clinic. We worked with another local children’s home and set up our clinic in the same location as yesterday. We were able to do well-child checks on about 40 kids today! Everything flowed very smoothly after working out some minor kinks from yesterday, which was great to see!
I had the privilege of visiting this particular children’s home last year on my previous trip. We were asked not to take pictures of the kids, so let me paint you a verbal picture.
What wonderful kids. Polite with sweet smiles and straight white teeth, they told me about what they liked to do and what they enjoyed in school. Most of them were so well-mannered that when I asked them how the albendazole tasted (this is a deworming medicine that tastes super yucky and smells even worse!), they would politely tell me it was “good”. Most of the children were very healthy, with only a few minor illnesses to treat. Overall I have been encouraged by the fact that most of the children we have seen have been pretty healthy. That’s how it should be. That’s how we want to keep it.
I had a great conversation on the bus today with one of the coordinators from CHI Haiti who is working with us for the week. We talked about how the health care system in Haiti works. There really is no primary care system currently in place in Haiti. People do not have a doctor that knows them and follows them with the goal of keeping them healthy. When people are sick (and often people wait until they are very sick), they go to the hospital. When children need vaccines, the parent brings them to one of the public hospitals and stand in line to be seen. There is also a strong vodou presence in Haiti and many people visit a witch doctor instead of, or in addition to, a physician.
In order to address the need for primary care, Community Health Workers (CHW’s) are often trained to stand in the gap. CHW’s are lay-people who are trained by various organizations to be a resource in their community for health care needs. They do things like teach pregnant moms about breastfeeding, or make sure that patients with tuberculosis take their medications. Our friends at CHI train CHW’s and we look forward to learning more about this from them.
After our clinic, we had some free time to visit the tin market, which is a must-see if you are ever in PAP. You can watch the artisans at work also. Here are a few tin market creations:
We then went to Haiti Design Co for a little shopping and browsing. HDC is a sweet little boutique that is also passionate about creating opportunities for jobs and job training in Haiti through beautiful design. They sell jewelry, handbags, clothing, and other hand-made items. Such gorgeous stuff, but not in my budget for today. I’m holding out for another place we are going later this week!
There is so much beauty in Haiti. I think because it is a third-world country, we focus on the things that are not so beautiful, like the trash overflowing in the streets, the crime, and the corruption. Indeed, there are some ugly things. However, I also see beauty. Today I saw beauty in the trees, some overflowing with mangoes, and others dripping with pink and red flowers. I saw beauty in the sweet smiles of the children I met today. I saw beauty in their house mother, who loves those kids and protects them fiercely.
Tomorrow is our last day of clinic, then a free day to see some things and wrap a few things up before we leave.