being back here after being in a place that is so not anything like here is strange… without internet, TV, phone/text access, without being able to talk to anyone (except my interpreter). To be so out of place and yet feel so at home in your soul…
Where the day is from sunup to sundown, more intentional, and the people move slower with purpose because of the heat, and so do I.
Where your mind and body are forced to be in the same place almost all the time.
Where bedtime is when the sun fades and you wake up to the sound of donkey, chickens and children, all starting their day in the very first hours of sunlight.
Where mommas, fathers, grandmas and granddads and children live surrounded by each other everyday.
Where every morning you see pregnant moms at 9am until each of them has had care, and every afternoon you go by truck/moto until you need to hike into the mountains to visit families in their homes to care for babies infected cords and moms who had recently given birth.
Where a young girl needs a wound cleaned because she cut the tip of her finger off with a machete, a little boy’s mom asks you to help with an ear infection, and a grandma tells you she isn’t feeling well and wants to know if you can do anything.
Where water and food and antibiotics are what is needed most, and hardest to get in any real way for so many reasons.
Where the midwives share a bond that I could see and feel without knowing the words, and they let me in immediately with a sisterhood I rarely know….
Despite the “travelers diarrhea” (which both times this has happened to me has felt like a very nice term for something more like “I think I am dying”), and the millions of tiny stinging ants I failed to recognize in my shower until it was much too late, the birth center in Cabestor was a magical place for me as I am sure it is for the women who receive care from the amazing Haitian midwives who work there. So many many stories of families. Too many to go into here...
But one of my most touching births there was a transport; 45 minutes over the most impassable road you can imagine and then another 45 over pavement to get to the hospital, late at night with two mommas in labor (one partial abruption, one PROM) two midwives, a driver/interpreter and many family members. As we drove through the community, people kept coming out to the road in the pitch black to pass food into our truck (as the hospital doesn’t provide meals) for the moms and their families… the care of the people for their loved ones brought tears to my eyes.
The second was a mom who brought in a baby who was so very tiny, she told me she had twins very early and one died 16 days after she was born. The momma shared with me that she screamed and cried and others told her to be quiet. I told her I had a baby who died too, that I still scream. Into pillows sometimes so no one will hear he and me would be 20 this month. I told her mommas never forget.
We shared a quiet moment of knowing as we looked into each other’s eyes… I compartmentalize well, I held it together until last night… beautiful and terrible things happen everywhere.
such a mix of feelings tonight. The last 2 times I visited the feeding center for children there was a little girl who just stared, made no eye contact, wouldn’t eat and when I held my hands out asking if she wanted me to hold her she didn’t move. Today when I reached for her she held her arms out to me, she ate all I fed her, and I held her for an hour as she sunk into me…. little boys came in and played a game of slapping my hands and snuggling and she stayed right there. When I had to leave, I went to put her down in her bed and she held on to me and sobbed… my heart is broken for her.
Tonight is my last night in Hinche, I head to Cabestor to the Birth Center until Wednesday, and then to Port au Prince to help a midwife there who needs assistance before I head back to JFK on Saturday, I will be without Wi-Fi or cell phone until then. A group of us went out tonight, drank beers, ate Haitian food, and danced on the roof top in downtown Hinche a bitter sweet day for sure.
Yesterday I spent a day in ST. Therese hospital, (think small room partitioned off )the only one in the central plateau, I attended a section and was handed a baby who needed a little help, Helped a mom with a fetal demise, learned quickly what to do with a mom who comes in seizing with a BP of 240/140. Then went to hold and feed babies and toddlers in a feeding center based on Mother Theresa’s model. Today home visits to moms who are post partum in the villages by foot and motorbike, some curriculum planning for CE for local doctors on Friday, then back to the feeding center… the poverty is unfathomable, the country is beautiful and the people are amazing. I am falling in love with Haiti…