Wednesday, July 9, 2008
What's New at Espwa
A lot has happened since my last post. This past Saturday, I went with Linda to the main hospital in Les Cayes because there was a baby of a worker here who was severely dehydrated. The hospital conditions there, as you can read about in Will'S Blog, are horrendous. Not only are the rooms dirty and foul, but all patients are forced to buy and bring their own treatments! IV bags, medicines, needles, even mattresses are not supplied--diagnosis and administration of supplies is offered. What a crazy place. On Sunday, Dan and I flew to Port-au-Prince to pick up my parents, and then we made the 4-hour scenic southbound drive toward Les Cayes. We ended up driving right past Espwa and going to Port-Salut, one of the most picturesque beaches I have ever seen. It's interesting that a country like Haiti, which is so plagued by poverty, misery, and filth, can be home to such exquisite, seemingly untouched beauty. This "mini vacation" at times felt a little strange, considering the general purpose of our time in Haiti, but was pleasant nonetheless.
On Monday morning, it was back to work, this time with much-appreciated new help. My parents have been a significant force here--it's actually hard to imagine that we would have stayed on schedule with the children's Houses without their help. They have led the charge in caulking and spraying the houses, and have taken a lot of initiative in repairing doors, installing new locks, and taking inventory of what there is left to do on specific houses. They have also spent several hours each day at the clinic seeing patients with Dr. Jakob, and even introducing Jakob and his (small) staff to some equipment and tools that have been brought down, but never used, by previous visiting physicians. We dusted off and brought out an old electrocardiogram, and used that several times today on patients with high blood pressure or histories of heart problems. That was headed by my dad. My mom's knowledge is a little more pertinent down here--there are many more gastrointestinal problems in a place like Haiti than there are cardiovascular problems. My mom revived the old microscope and some other gadgets for reviewing stool, urine, and blood samples. Both my parents have been very helpful at the clinic, but have also enjoyed learning more about tropical diseases like malaria, as well as renewing their primary care skills. They have also been great with the kids, which is fun to watch. My dad is big into photography, so he has also taken on the responsibility of artistic documentation, which is important, and fun for him; the kids love the camera too. The pictures I posted today are a few of his.
"Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite" is pretty much on schedule, but we've been forced to work longer and harder than usual. Even with the help of my parents and several other very competent boys like Weber, it's tough to zip along through these houses. After tomorrow we'll be halfway done, although some coordination with the carpenters is required, and we will eventually need a little more funding for a few more supplies.
There was a Dutch novelist visiting Espwa today, and he was a really interesting guy. He is building a sailboat from scratch and sailing from Haiti to Miami--he hopes to write about and gain insight into the not-so-uncommon attempt of Haitians to escape their poverty. It's an ambitious idea, not only because of the difficulty in building a sturdy and reliable boat out of raw planks of wood, but also because of severe Carribean storms and Hurricanes. Whether he makes it or not, I think it's a cool idea, and he seemed like a great guy. He is living right now on Ile Vache, a small island off the coast, and Dan and I are planning to go stay with him for a weekend and sail around a bit--should be a cool experience.
The next 2 days should be interesting. In addition to moving along with the kids' houses, we will be going on a tour of Les Cayes (led by Linda) to catch some of the images you don't see in the newspapers. We are planning to have the director of the hospital in Les Cayes show us the whole hospital--hopefully my dad will be able to take some pictures there. Dan has also offered to take us on a walk around the village for some more photography opportunities, as well as some general history and current event information on the local area. Dan knows a lot, so an hour walk with him is the equivalent of like a 6 hour museum tour.
I am hoping to contribute further to Pwoje Espwa upon returning to the States through fundraising--this place needs contributions badly. If you feel compelled to give money, please visit FreeTheKids.org. If you want to ask further questions about how your money might be used, or if you are interested in contributing to a specific cause or project, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will update you on what is going on at Espwa now.