|OUR CLINIC: for the people, by the people photo by Patricia Borns|
|please donate to hispanolahealthpartners.org|
|Haitian spirits in the darkness|
March 2nd, 2017 Marjofre, Commune de Grand Gosier, SE Haiti: For years now I have had a box seat at the night opera every time I sleep over in Marjofre. Well, honestly to be more comfortable I retreat a row back into the dress circle, to my mosquito-netted bed just inside the open balcony door which overlooks the wout prensipal, or main drag of rock and dirt. The evening starts with a punishing mix of burnt out speakers blasting kompa or reggaeton backed up by the high pitched squeal of the generator that powers them. This is usually coming from directly under my bed, where sits the courtyard of the "Love People Bar Resto." The racket is often punctuated with black-outs due to the blessed malfunction of the power source. By 9:30 the gasoline has run out and all that remains is the trilling laughter of a few drunk tenors as they inch their way off stage. I can hear silence for the first time in hours. Footfalls on the road below, sometimes just two - scrape, scrape on its surface, other times a shuffling lilt of hooves, a 3 against 4 rhythm, donkey or horse. More silence. I hear a truck coming from way in the distance and above the baritone of the engine a choir of voices sings as they ride atop the load - hymns in brilliant harmony rising from peaks of charcoal and plantains. It reaches its climax as they approach my balcony and then fades rapidly, before I can get out of bed to see what passed. More silence, maybe I fall asleep. Dogs begin to take the stage, one at a time, then in duets, trios, full chorus. Howling glissando, yappy staccoto. Their pauses give way to some distant drumming - I check the time, its after midnight, and the houngan, the clergyman of the Vodou psyche, has begun to sing in the breath of the gods somewhere near here. Drums' deep voices. Soft call and response crescendoing and decrescendoing, carried capriciously to me by the wind. This goes on for hours as I deliciously drift in and out of consciousness. The cock's aria is always the first to waken me - one shrill joker decides to disturb the peace with his hoarse solo that is then answered by a resounding chorus of atonal wannabes. The pigs' snorts, the donkeys' toothy gasps, the choking gurgle of a motorcycle trying to start, bring this fine performance to a close as dawn arrives.
|Admin Asst Mr Bulgué on clinic roof|
|Little tyke with raging fever and marasmus|
|Anatomy refresher at HHP training|
|Patricia filming surgeon and HHP Medical Director Roberto Peigne, outside his OR at the large Port-au-Prince public hospital "La Paix," which has been shuttered by a strike for almost a year now.|
Another exciting endeavor this time around is the making of a short documentary about the impact of HHP by brilliant filmmaker, Patricia Borns. Patricia has worked in Haiti before and has a few documentaries out on Haiti - Madam Sara, Women of the Mountains, Women of the Border, which you can find here: https://vimeo.com/search?q=patricia+borns
their Dominican neighbors. We squeezed into this tiny house, generously donated by its owner to do cervical screenings - we have done close to 200 there already since the camp opened in 2015.
|photo by Patricia Borns|
I leave you with a few tidbits - first, a photo of me and my beloved travel companion HHP treasurer, Peter Halle, here at the "Hotel Snobisme" in Port-au-Prince. I thank him from the bottom of my heart for his patience and dedication to the cause, and for his love of Haiti, despite its "idiosycrasies."
We were in the thick of carnival celebrations this time around, and I filmed a little bit of rara or Haitian carnival music and dance that happened right outside our clinic gate. I felt like I was back in West Africa...