Thursday, March 31, 2011

Presidential Elections

The results of the presidential elecction that was held a few weeks ago was scheduled to be announced today after work.  A few days ago  they decided that the results would not be available until Monday after work.  The most recent update sent to NGO volunteers regarding safety during this likely period of political unrest is to stay away from political conversation and remain indoors starting Sunday. 
(I'll be home safely by Monday)

In commemoration of the would be BIG DAY, here is a photo I took yesterday of the presidential palace.  It looks like the same as it did a year ago after the earthquake. 

A small tent city is sitting on a median in the middle of the multi lane road in front of the Palace.  Does anyone else find that strange?  

This is not the best picture I have ever taken, but I realized I do not have very many pictures of people carrying items on thier heads from this trip.  It is a common sight to see as you drive through town.  People have boxes, baskets of fuits, eggs, bags, etc balanced perfectly on their heads sometimes carrying two or three baskets at a time.  And perfect posture to go with it.  I asked Lesley, one of our interpreters, today if anyone evers drops thier stuff all over the road.  He laughed.  Said No.  I'm still not sure why he laughed at the question. 

I learned though, that only the lowest class carries stuff on their heads.  People in the upper classes view this as an act that is below them.  Seems like a good use for your noggin to me. 

And the cute photo of the day award goes to this sweet little girl at the New Life Orphanage. 

Doesn't that smile just melt your heart?  This was the most impressive orphanage I have ever seen.  It was close to the airport (ie very much in the middle of town) and it had a garden with fresh producce which we ate for lunch, a chicken coop, a fish hatchery, goats, rabbits, schools for the younger kids and a guest house for volunteers who come to help.  They have 120-135 kids.  About 20 of them have mental disabilities.  The number of kids at the orphanage is always changing as they often bring in children from outlying orpahanges who are malnourished, failiing to thrive, or very sick and need increased medical attention.  We completed a care giver school for the orphanage workers on topics relating to caring for disable children. 

Tomorrow we are off to a more remote orphanage to complete well child exams and then staying elsewhere for the evening.  Most likely there will be no internet access, so no photos for a few days.  Hope you are all enjoying the posts up to this point in the trip.  Hard to beleive it is Thursday already. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another day to Serve

favorite photo of the day

Today Jordan, Kirsti, Miriam and I were assigned to clean a medical warehouse.  It doesn't sound like exciting work to be doing overseas, but we enjoyed the chance to serve where we were assigned and to make a small dent in the work that needed to be accomplished. 
* the boys dancing on lunch break and watching Jordan rip his pants
*watching how willing the Haitians were to pitch in manpower to move boxes.  they made our work go much faster
*throwing 50 boxes off the second floor in the warehouse to reload on a different palate (we used wheel chairs to transport boxes from one side of the warehouse to another)
*cold drinks during our lunch break! Much needed after sweating indoors for hours
*a naked man sitting in a tree on the side of the road
*making progress in orgnizing IV supplies, syringes, masks, gowns, ortho supplies and others equipment.
*swimming--did I mention that I love the sunny, warm weather!
*the power is currently back on and the internet is working
*we have water on the 3rd floor again!!  We now have water to shower, turn on the sink faucet and flush the toilet.

I'm sure there are a hundred more highlights, funny stories and reasons that I am thankful to be here. 

photo taken at the end of the work day after loading sheleves full of IV fluids. 

Just to show you how dirty we got, that wipe cleaned off one arm and it is filthy.  I didn't want to touch anything for the entire ride home...and traffic was horrific.  That is actually a funny story--traffic wasn't moving anywhere so I looked ahead to see why and there was a huge dump track blocking 1/2 the narrow haitian road.  They were changing a flat tire in the middle of the road, in the middle of busy streets, at a busy time of day!  Street hawkers were directing traffic.  20 cars in one direction and then 20 for the other took FOREVER.

Big Day for Big Mack

Big Mack has been trying for months to get approval to come study in the US.  Today he met for a 3rd time with the Embassy and came out grinning.  He should have his passport by Thursday!
Big Mack is one of our favorite interpreters down in Haiti.  His first name is actually Mackenton. For obvious reasons he was nicknamed Big Mack.  (remember I was the giant in the photo I posted yesterday.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Double the Haiti Experience....

More adventures from Haiti on Kirsti's blog.  More photos (many of both of us b/ we flew out together and went to the clinic together today), different stories, same great adventure.

Callebasse, markets and rainstorms in Haiti

Today the day started extra early.  Alarms off at 6am.  Sitting outside waiting for vans at 6:30 AM.  6 of us drove up the mountains to a town just outside of Port au Prince called Callebasse (pronounced Cal-Bus).  The plans for the day were a little up in the air with a gas strike going on it the city.  We weren't sure if translators would show up.  We weren't sure if drivers would be able to drive.  Also weren't sure if there would be any unrest with a van full of white people driving through the city when all the "tap taps" were on strike.  But it's 8pm and we are home safe after an eventful day.  We saw 103 patients in the clinic today.  We didn't have very many antibiotics so mostly it was giving tylenol, ibuprofen and topical creams. 

We have had rain storms each night which bring a great breeze to our 3rd floor sauna room.  My thermometer on Sunday said it was 101 degrees in my room.  Today it was 96 degrees and felt significantly cooler. HA!  The mosquitos are biting and I've got a more than a few to show.  I think I should spray down my mosquito netting, but I can't bring myself to put on repellant after showering and before going to bed so I can't complain.  I took my hand at the markets today.  After 4 years of coming to Haiti, I shouldn't surprised by how the guys hound you to come look at their products.  I hate shopping in America.  Shopping in Haiti on the streets is a whole different experience.  After 10 mins I was done.  Yup, I have about the same attention span in America.  I purchased a statue of the "freedom slave" for a previous volunteer in haiti having buyers remorse from not buying it while here.  I bartered from $25 down to $10.  Pretty proud of my efforts. 
Church yesterday was incredible.  I didn't understand a single thing that was said (I don't speak french or creole.  Also, the speakers didn't have a mircophone so anyone at the back of the chapel couldn't hear anything), but I was impressed by the number of members at church, the spirit that was present, the number of men wearing white shirts and ties passing the sacrament and how quiet the kids were during the meeting.  We had 4 kiddos sitting with us on our pew and I was sitting next to a guy that was baptized 3 months ago after meeting the missionaries.  In his own words he said--I was just searching for something more in life and was so ready to meet the missionaries.  I love hearing stories like that. 

Enjoy the pictures below.  Let me know if you have any questions that I'm not answering.  There is no possible way to explain everything I am seeing or experiencing while here in Haiti.  All I can say is I love coming back.  It feels just like home. 
Goiter on a patient at the clinic
Angioedema on a child at the clinic.  I wasn't triaging so I don't know the cause.  I was working in pharmacy and he said I could take a photo.  I hope the benadryl helps!

I'm really not a giant, but I look that way next to this sweet woman

This is a view of the terraced mountainside.  The sky was so blue today.  The hills look greener than I remember in the past.  It was beautiful to be up above the city noise and traffic of Port au Prince up in Callebasse.
Dillon.  cute Dillon.  Too bad I can't take him home with me. 
Traditionally Sunday night dinner is at the Montana.  It was destroyed in the earthquake but we drove up there to get drinks and enjoy the view and sunset.  This is me with Katie--my best traveling companion and best house mate :)
I snapped this photo.  I just think she looks so beautiful.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Haiti 2011

The crews have been working hard.  The rubble from a 4 story apartment building that collapsed during the earthquake (pictured on the left) has been cleared (pictured on the right). 

Tent cities are still prevalent on the side of streets, behind gates and built up along hillsides.   
This is just one of many pictures of the tent cities while driving from the airport to the Healing Hands for Haiti guest house.

The shanty town hillside next the the Healing Hands for Haiti property. 
Toothbrushes, toothpaste, medications, vitamins, blanekts, shoes, wound care supplies, art supplies...

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's still snowing...

March 25 and I am still scraping snow off my car.  I liked snow back in Oregon when snow meant cancellations or late start.  There was actually something to look forward to when the white flakes started falling from the sky.  Here it means slushy streets, wet pant legs and traffic. 

It's about time I get my Winter dose of vitamin D, so I'm headed to Haiti. 

Who says you can't take 2 weeks off of school to travel, work and enjoy the SUN (and rainstorms and mosquitoes...I can't make it sound all fun). I'm hoping to see this little guy again. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Kind of Cougar are you?

Before basketball season is completely over, I have to at least admit to my atypical obsession with BYU basketball.  I think I have watched more BYU basketball games (and football) in my first year of graduate school than I did in all 5 years combined of undergraduate work.  Can you blame me?  Jimmer scores 52 points in 1 game and beats the all time scoring record.  Emery beats the all time steals record.  The team was ranked 3rd in the country for a week.  I think the roots of my obsession started watching Julie play ball in middle and high school.  And I attended every home boys basketball game in high school thanks to the Rhythm Bs and our half time performances.
I can't deny it-I have found myself searching YouTube and ESPN for new videos about the Cougars or Jimmer.  I looked forward to waking up Monday after a Sunday night shift at the hospital to see the cougars new ranking.  After a terrible day at school, watching the "Teach me how to Jimmer" video made me laugh and snap out of it...  This is serious madness.  But it was a seriously great video on YouTube. 

Here are some favorites:

Let the true March Madness begin.  Best of luck to the cougars.