If you were to walk in to our rooms right now, by looking at us, you would think that we had been in Haiti for three weeks. But, not without good reason. It has been a very busy first few days. And I don’t think we would have had it any other way.
Once we finally got to Haiti, we left Port-au-Prince as quickly as possible in order to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city due to a one day trip to Haiti by the French president. We then got to Cange and the Zamni Lasante campus, where we all could relax.
The campus is beautiful. Full of trees and life. There are people walking to and from different places, each stopping every once in a while to greet an old friend. There are children of different ages all going to school. And even as you sit in the dorms, you can hear them playing in the distance. The health facility is great, the people are nice, and there’s a sense of peace that radiates from the walls here. It is new, good type of infection that spreads from person to person and brings happiness.
On Wednesday, our first big stop was the new, state of the art hospital in Mirebalais. It was made up of many different wards and provided a range of services to patients, such as ophthalmology, oncology, obstetrics, and gynecology. It is even equipped with its own on site pharmacy. The hospital is remarkable, because it is similar to hospitals that we have in America, except it runs completely on solar power. I was surprised to see how smoothly it ran, because you can do everything you need to do in one stop.
After that was the trip to CFFL, the agricultural school in Corporant. This place is also amazing, because it spends time teaching the Haitian people how to do a number of different things that would allow them to support their families. Students there can learn about woodworking, technology, and agriculture. The main portion of the school aims to teach people how to farm more effectively and how to be able to supply food for themselves and the country. The programs are very hands-on and include projects that must be completed in a community that the student is part of, so that this can start to be implemented through all of Haiti.
Wednesday was fun, but Thursday was was even better. On Thursday we left Cange again to go back to the city. Port-au-Prince, while still pretty busy, had died down from the the visit of the French president and was now ours for the taking. Thursday afternoon we got to meet Mario Joseph, one of the most prominent human rights lawyers in Haiti. He is currently working on a case to sue the UN for bringing cholera to Haiti by the UN peacekeepers and has been more productive that anyone thought he would be. This man is so iconic, because he stands up for those who do not have the means to do so themselves. He works hard for his country to protect their basic human rights.
After meeting such an important figure in Haiti and pondering the Haitian government and politics, letting loose a little was much needed. So, a day at the Carribe hotel resort and a night on the town it was! We went to Carribe, where we ate lunch and sat under the palm trees by the pool. It is a very nice place that was not too far from the poor parts of the city. The contrast and close proximity was pretty eye opening.
We then went to RAM, which is a perfect blend of socializing, dancing, and witnessing Haitian culture. We all got out on the dance floor, even Dr. Parker who “doesn’t dance”. I guess the vodou spirits are stronger than we thought. It was a place that us blan could fit in and have fun with the people of Haiti.
So, yes, it’s true that we seem to have been there for three weeks and have only been here for three days. But, we have already seen so much of the Haitian culture. From the poor regions to the rich regions and much in between. After spending the rest of the day relaxing and getting some good rest, I’m sure we will all be up for more of this country soon.