November 23, 2014
Its Sunday evening and the darkness slowly wraps itself around the hills surrounding Port au Prince, and from my balcony I can watch the bats swerving in and out of the palms as they bend in the breeze. Choir voices waft upwards from the church on Avenue Christophe. I am guiltily indulging myself in 2 days of hot water, internet, fine food and exhilarating company at this remarkable Victorian Gothic style hotel.
Decked with creepy statuary made from wood carvings and recycled doll extremities, skulls, hub caps, spray cans, the shady, the grassy grounds are a refuge from the insane traffic, open sewers and dust of the city.
This place was built in 1896 by the Sam family and housed two of Haiti's presidents around the turn of the century. It's up a hill, providing cooler air and spacious views of the sea and city below. It served as a military hospital in the 20s during the US Marine's occupation, then became a hotel in the 30s, a bohemian hang-out for artists, writers, actors. Probably best known for the site of Graham Greene's The Comedians, all the rooms are named for the famous people who have stayed here: Jackie O, Edwidge Danticot, Mick Jagger, Katherine Dunham, John Barrymore, Amy Wilents, Barry Goldwater (?) I think its stunning too!
Haiti Say You Will - my room
I know I am digressing and I promise to get back to the point of bringing you all to this blog very soon. However, I feel like, as with many encounters of this trip so far, it is a good karmic sign that I met and hung out for a second time with Richard Morse, the hotel's owner and cousin of Haiti's president, Michel Martelly. Our link is a friend in common (Elizabeth Yoakum) from Lakeville, CT where he went to school (Indian Mt), and one September about 10 years ago he came up to Mt Riga one evening to a place Eliot and I were renting and we had a long talk about kids, music, politics.
HHP's prez Phil Wolf, HHP's medical director Roberto Peigne, yrs truely, and Richard Morse. Photo taken on the porch of the Oloffson by Daniel Morel, well known Haitian photographer who lives at the hotel photomorel.com/
So I came down to sea level after being up in the mountains for a week of clinic services that Hispañola Health Partners and our local partner AMBUF provided for the community in Marjofre. We provided 5 days of gyn, 3 days of dental, optometry, and general medicine. Final counts are not in but we probably serviced close to 300 people. Except for me and Erin (last blog), all providers were Haitian and the 100 goude ($2.50) that AMBUF charged for the consultation and meds will be invested into the further construction and infrastructure of the project. Trying from the start to incorporate locals in decision making, administrative duties, financial managing for the eventual soti po blan yo (foreign aid retreat), they are deciding how to best invest the near $1000 they raised. By charging the residents of the community for the clinic services, they too are contributing to its future. "May the circle be BROKEN" of eternal NGO handouts that unintentionally keep poverty entrenched.
|early morning dental demo for the waiting crowd|
|emergency tendon repair|
|It is pulling teeth|
|12 month old Jeudi's cheek abscess, as she calmly lies on her side on the table, |
waiting for incision and drainage
Tomorrow I have a meeting with the director of Fonkoze, Haiti's well-known microfinance organization, that is interested in our cervical screening program for their women members in the SE region. I am also meeting with the head of a cancer program in one of the local hospitals to help tighten up our referral system for women with findings too advanced to treat with cryotherapy. Tomorrow I am back in the boondocks to revisit the Mennonite clinic high up in the pine woods where I did screening 18 months ago to do follow up and help train a new nurse in the procedure.
So, my dear friends, thanks for finding a little flash moment in your day for peeking under this circus tent. It's fun to have you along, later, Louise