Dr. Leopold Florent Bourgouin
Dr. Leopold Florent Bourgouin, lovingly known as Dr. Leo, is the Medical Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Health Center in Grand-Bois. Dr. Leo is currently in the United States visiting for the upcoming “A Day in the Life” Biennial ServeHAITI Fundraiser in Davenport, Iowa. Our goal is to raise over $100,000 this year!!!
While Dr. Leo was in town we took time to sit down with him and catch up. We asked him a few questions to which he said were “hard questions”, with a huge smile on his face. To hear a little of Dr. Leo’s perspective and wisdom, KEEP READING!
Question One: If you had a magic wand and could make one improvement or addition to the St. Vincent de Paul Health Center what would it be?
Dr Leo: “A modern child unit. Our number of deliveries are up and we have all women in one room”.
There are currently only four beds in the postpartum unit of the Health Clinic. Dr. Leo stressed the need for more space. He would love to have individual rooms for postpartum patients and to be able to comfortably facilitate many more than four at a time.
Dr. Leo talked passionately about creating space for malnourished children, to be able to keep them overnight; and room for other children in critical condition.
“Space for elective surgery that we do not have now would also be a help,” Dr. Leo said. Many patients come to the clinic for elective surgeries that can be scheduled out farther in advance like a hernia or mass removal. Dr. Leo dreams of a space, tools and resources for a group of surgeons to come a few times a year and perform these surgeries for the community.
Question Two: What is one goal set for the Health Center over the next year?
Dr. Leo: “To have a functional, high tech lab and a lab technician to run it.”
The lab technician would be able to perform basic tests and more for the Health Center. Dr. Leo and a proposed lab technician plan to go to training in October to continue bringing this goal to fruition. There is a room set up with equipment for the lab across from the exam rooms. Stay tuned for more information!
Question Three: What is currently the biggest need in Grand-Bois? (In or out of the Health Center)
Dr. Leo: “It really depends on where you stand, who you are and how you determine your priorities.”
Dr. Leo explained that there are MANY needs in Grand-Bois from fixing the roads to accessible clean water. In his mind it all comes down to technical skills and employment. Education is a very valuable tool. With the right skills and education other needs can be addressed. Dr. Leo said, “Job creation may resolve part of the problems we already fight.” Teach people skills to fix the roads, pay them for their hard work, educate them on the importance of clean water, then big problems like malnutrition become less of a problem.
Question Four: If you could eradicate an illness tomorrow, but only allowed one, which one would it be?
Dr. Leo: “This one is easy! Malnutrition. Malnutrition because a child needs protection. We need to end suffering in this new generation. Malnutrition leads to body suffering and cognitive suffering.”
Most malnourished patients that come to the Health Center are 0-5 years old. They do not have a choice to change their current situation. They are the people who need the most protection. Malnourishment is a vicious cycle. It is a circle between poverty, parents leaving the home for long periods of time to work, lack of shelter, many kids in one family. The youngest normally suffers the most with little access to food. It is more difficult to get them healthy. “We have to spend much more to get them healthy than to keep them healthy in the first place,” Dr. Leo said.
Dr. Leo recognizes that this is a hard situation to get out of. He expressed the importance of educating families on proper nutrition, the importance of clean water and the creation of jobs in order to stop this problem for the next generation.
Question Five: What is the best way, we in the United States, can help the people of Grand-Bois?
Dr. Leo: “Continue! Continue doing what you have been doing. I know I and the people of Grand-Bois are VERY appreciative of all ServeHAITI does for us. Keep focused on all of our goals: education, water and sanitation, economy, environment and communication.”
By Kim Wiese
Given that every Thursday is “Mamba Day,” (where we care for malnourished children here at the clinic) it seemed only appropriate to share Louco’s touching story.
When Louco was first brought into the clinic about four weeks ago, the staff thought he was a severely malnourished toddler. He weighed just 13 pounds and was so weak, he could not hold a spoon in his hand. When Dr. Leo learned that in fact, Louco was five YEARS old, he decided to intervene. Dr. Leo always provides support for his patients but sometimes, he says, he just has this calling to do more. And, this was one of those days…
Louco is one of many children, which is typical in Haiti. His father has been away for some time, working in the Dominican Republic and it is presumed that his mother also works remotely, at least most of the time. So, Louco, along with his siblings, had been left to “caretakers” who very likely offered love, but clearly lacked basic necessities. Like stability, sanitation and food.
Louco had some difficulty talking and it wasn’t clear whether his slow growth was purely a byproduct of the extreme malnutrition or whether it had been caused by some other growth issue; in Haiti, there are no such tests. But one thing became crystal clear almost immediately. Little Louco was gifted with one very sharp mind.
During that first consultation, Dr. Leo told Louco’s mother that the only way he might get better was if she left him at the clinic for an extended amount of time. Initially, mom refused, stating she could not make that kind of decision without talking to Louco’s dad, and at the moment, she wasn’t quite sure how to contact him. So, to the dismay of Dr. Leo and the entire staff, she packed up Louco and left.
The next day, she returned with Louco in arms. While she had not been successful reaching her husband, apparently she had a positive conversation with her community, who strongly recommended she return Louco and leave him in the gentle care of Dr. Leo and the ServeHAITI team.
Dr. Leo escorted the woman to the front of the crowd of patients (translation: witnesses), as there are no formal processes for this type of agreement here in Grand Bois. He asked her what had changed during the past 24 hours and she expressed the comfort she felt upon conversing with her friends and family. With some ceremony, which is par for those times he chooses to set an example, and amidst the crowd, he carefully articulated the benefits (and potential risks) of leaving Louco for an extended period of time. And, she publicly agreed.
Imagine having to make a decision like that…
After mom’s departure, Dr. Leo carried Louco upstairs to the living quarters and announced to the nurse, “Look! Look! I brought you a boyfriend.” Such humor from our doctor. Yet, while there was levity in that moment, there were some trying times during the initial transition. First, they had to contend with those pesky worms, which is a frequent challenge for Haitian children (malnourished or well-fed). And, Louco was so homesick for his family, initially refused to eat. He also held his hand to his face, constantly, either out of shyness or as a protective shield. Then, Louco ran to the gate and yelled, “I go! I go! I go home.” As if he knew the way (or had the strength to walk that far, for that matter). Dr. Leo gently said, “No, no. You can stay with me. You can stay here with me and my family.” And, so Louco decided to stay.
Dr. Leo found some of his son’s old “six month” clothes, which would have fallen off Louco, were it not for the rope he fashioned into some sort of belt. Louco was fed “Medika Mamba,” (the food distributed at the clinic for the malnourished children) for about a week. Soon, he discovered that “table food” was better. He ate often, enjoying high protein foods like eggs and milk. And, eventually, he settled in.
About a week later, Dr. Leo’s three year old son, Bryan returned from a visit with relatives. Dr. Leo was afraid Bryan would hurt Louco, not out of malice, but more from brute, boyish strength. Dr. Leo entered a room to discover Bryan pulling Louco across the floor. He set Bryan into a corner to punish him, but then realized that Bryan had simply been protecting Louco from tumbling down the stairs.
About three weeks later, mom came back for a visit. Louco had grown stronger and was clearly happy to see her. However, this time, he let her go. “Goodbye” was all he said, with a smile, and some food in his little belly.
Last week, when our group first met Louco, he appeared small but strong. Within hours, he had latched onto the lone guy in our volunteer group, Kelby, following him around and calling him, “Pappa.” In just four weeks, this little man has grown to a size “nine month” pant. It’s important, Dr. Leo says, to monitor him so he doesn’t grow too fast. And, his pace is good. Very, very good. Louco walks, runs sings, plays and even dances for the many photos and movies we’ve captured. He is learning a little English and has taught us a few Creole words along the way. Like “renmen.” Love.
Leo said, “I just wanted to save his life. At first, he was dead and now he is alive. He will live here until he gets better.”
And, that, my friends, is what ServeHAITI is all about.
By Kim Wiese
Wednesday morning, September 17
Monday night, we witnessed a torrential storm that nearly shut down the clinic. We were pondering what life must be like for the Haitians in all those strong rains when a man walked into our clinic, soaked to the bone and carrying a newborn his friend had delivered along the side of the road. She followed closely behind him. The staff here rushed new Momma into the hospital room, as she’d not yet delivered the placenta. We took extra care with her and gave kudos (along with some dry clothes) to the man who had the good sense to bring her in to see us. Just as we finished, we realized there were two more women waiting quietly – preparing to give birth. That’s when we lost our electricity. Typically, the generator kicks in, but the battery had died, so we stood there completely in the dark. We all scrambled to find and then loan the staff our headlamps. When it became clear that we might not see a birth for several hours, we opted for some sleep. We went to bed sans electricity, though the rains had calmed a bit.
Throughout the night, we heard noises, cries and at one point, even a little screaming. However, discouraged by the commotion and the darkness, we chose to stay put. When we woke, we discovered that in fact, four babies had been born during the night (two more women arrived after we went to bed). So, we had five little babies at the clinic, which we gently placed and then photographed in one long row. We all laughed and had a good time celebrating new life with those Moms. Within 12 hours of delivering, all five families walked out the door together, happy to be rambling down that sun-kissed road.
After lunch, we drove to visit a school being built about five miles away. There was a little commotion when we stopped; a motorbike ran into an open door of our truck. The bike flipped over and a teenage girl was burned on her leg by the motor. We rushed to treat the wound, ever thankful that one of our team members had the good sense to bring a first aid kit on this particular journey, and that the injury the young girl sustained wasn’t more serious.
After chatting with the work crew witnessing the school’s progress (albeit slowly), we fashioned a game plan for our last few days. Then, we walked back to the clinic, slowly and heartened by the good cheer and marvel the kids expressed upon seeing so many “blans.” (Translation: white people). A few were shocked, spooked even, when “blans” spoke to them in Creole.
Upon arrival back at the clinic, another storm brewed; larger, still – as we realized there was yet another woman in labor, this time with TWINS. First, I was heartened to learn of the twins, as I happen to be one. But the joy was quickly replaced with worry, first for the Vuner, the mom, who was distressed in labor and then then for the babies — upon discovery that they were premature (just 28 weeks), both were breech and each weighed less than two kilos (four pounds). Upon delivery, we moved Mom to another room so the staff could work on the babies. First out was “Joan,” (in honor of “Joan of Arc”) our spirited little fighter. Then, there was sweet little “Jacob,” who, due to a very difficult delivery, came out a little battered and bruised. The ladies from our volunteer group named the twins, for as soon as Mom realized they likely would not live, she wanted nothing to do with them. To others, this might seem heartless, but in Haiti, it’s called survival.
Vuner is a beautiful woman, just trying to make her way. She lives near the church and struggles to care for her teenage daughter, Joulien and son, Dade (who is 5) while her husband lives far away, trying to earn a living.
Throughout the night, we took turns holding, and caring for little Joan and Jacob. Early on, Dr. Leo contacted the Red Cross, to see if they might be able to provide assistance, given this was an “emergency situation” with two distressed babies. We learned that they were recently gifted a helicopter “for the people” and thought they might be able to help. For those few precious moments, we held visions of hope. However, we were informed that while there was indeed a helicopter, the Red Cross had neither a team to pick up the babies nor any available neonatal support.
Disheartened again, we set out to make little Joan and Jacob comfortable. Oxygen helped them breathe and Cindy put a feeding tube down each of them. Julien spent time with us, holding her little brother and sister. Followed by brother, Dade, Mawdn (aunt) and Jouzlen (cousin). Even Sonia, Mom’s close friend. But, no Mom. We fed all of them and conveyed messages of courage and strength, all the while also trying to communicate deep, deep regret.
Jacob lived just four and a half hours. He passed peacefully, in the arms of our group. We passed him around, ever so gently to say goodbye, and brought his family in, as well. Still no Mom. Why focus on death when life is hard enough. Little Joan came to bed with us and slept with Cindy. She made it until about 5:50 a.m. and struggled for every last breath. Our little fighter, right ‘til the end.
We may never understand why God gives or takes away, though we trust in His higher plan. Yet, we know one thing for certain. Those two little precious babies were loved during each and every moment of their short little life.
How quickly the time in Haiti passes. It’s hard to believe our volunteer group has already been here for three days. We are small but mighty with just six on our team. As the designated historian, I thought I’d share just a few highlights on behalf of the team:
- One of our first tasks upon arrival was to restock the pharmacy. We carried in nearly 1,000 pounds of supplies and given the very low inventories, it was clear that we’d arrived just in time. It was incredible to measure the “before” and “after” inventory levels. That task alone was enough to deem this trip a success.
- On Saturday, the clinic was quiet and the weather nice, so we decided to walk to the Haitian/Dominican Republic border. It only took about 90 minutes to get there, but the path was quite steep, with loose rocks all along the narrow path. We were torn; the views were stunning, however out of necessity, we needed to watch every step! When we arrived at the border, we placed one foot on each side and pondered the disparity between the two countries. We passed out bits of food and good cheer along the way, and actually got invited into three different homes. We all got a little choked up; they were so happy (proud, even) of their tiny little shacks, while so many Americans remain simply miserable, amidst masses of sheer abundance.
- Later, we decided to drive to the “market,” which is held once a week. People come from miles to buy and sell everything they need; toothpaste, rice, beans, books, live animals, even underwear was spread out (mostly on the ground) and sold (or bartered). There seemed to be a lot of bantering and jesting amongst one another. You can tell the locals love their market! People were a little stand-offish towards us at first, until one of us spoke even a few words in Creole. That was usually enough to break the ice; at which point, the good people usually became quite animated and many even happily posed for photos (especially as we turned our cameras back to show them their picture). They laughed while others clamored to have theirs taken, too. One “male only” tent was filled with gamblers; there were games of fast moving shells back towards the perimeter, some card games and a cock fight inside. I was happy to bypass that particular adventure, having witnessed one a couple years ago. Yuck! We were happy to see so many books and a little grossed out by some of the food (think dried out, dead fish — who eats that??). As we walked through the mass of thousands, we were repeatedly “shooshed” out of the way by people on foot, horses, donkey or motorbikes (generally 3 or 4, even and rarely wearing helmets). Walking home (accompanied by our translator), it dawned on me that the vast majority of those people have likely never been off this mountain.
- Only one baby was born Saturday. Mom, Dad, sister and baby were gone within hours of the delivery, making their long trek back home. This is a common occurrence; new Mothers rarely stay more than a day, even when the labor is difficult. Thankfully, I was able to visit (albeit, rudimentarily) with them, feed them and take a few photos before they left.
- There is a little five year old boy, Louco, staying here at the clinic.
When he arrived a few weeks ago, he was so malnourished, Dr. Leo insisted he stay. He walks, but wears a size “9 month” pant. It’s been enlightening to see how he’s bonded with us, so quickly, following us
- Then, there is sweet little Selio. His Mother used to work at the clinic, so we know him well. Selio has broken his arm for the second time (he’d broken it two years ago during my first mission trip). He walked from his house to our clinic (maybe an hour each way) in flip flops, just to see us – and then walked to the Dominican Republic with us later. We gave him some shoes before the journey and he practically ran both ways. He is the boy that never asks for anything, so we tend to shower him with gifts (and love).
- Yesterday, we walked to church. The road is extremely steep (much steeper than the road to the D.R.) but it is only about two miles. It hadn’t rained for a couple days, so thankfully, it was a nice walk (not slippery). Church on Sunday is always an interesting event here – they get rolling, well, when they feel like rolling. At first, there were just a few in attendance. However, as soon as the village heard the music, they came running and within minutes, the church was packed. Hundreds of lovely locals who take pride in the day, donning their “Sunday best” including their “church shoes” (if they are wealthy enough to own two pairs of shoes).
- Alfred, our translator, whispered every word of the sermon, which made the event much more meaningful. We must love others, we must forgive others and live like God, just as he lives in our heart. The priest introduced our group, and each of us stood and introduced ourselves, with Alfred’s assistance. Just before communion, a woman two rows behind us fainted. Cindy and Jamie (both RNs) jumped to help; she was more embarrassed than sick, but we insisted on bringing her back to the clinic for a checkup. To make room, three of us walked home from church (which was a much greater workout than the walk down). How our legs burned.
- Later in the afternoon, our team got to work making chalk boards for a school. That project was relatively easy (translation: it was one of the few “construction” jobs we could actually handle) and soon it became a contest to see who could finish first! We finished quickly, preparing for an impending storm (which didn’t actually come for a few more hours). Then, we walked down the road to watch the Sunday soccer game (the folks here fashioned goals from three big sticks and hand-made netting). I wondered how they learned the rules.
- We hung out with several of the local kids. One had a horribly worn pair of shoes (the front had fallen off), so we found an old pair (still, in much better shape than his) that almost fit, and traded. Within minutes, there were ten more children, some with no shoes at all. And, to our dismay, we didn’t have enough. How to decide who gets them, and who does not. Our hearts sank as we said, “We are sorry,” (in Creole: “regrets”). They understood and we gave each of them a little handmade bracelet, the concession prize, if you will. That cheered them up a little. Later, we fed them – so at least they went home with something.
- This morning, despite it being the first day of school for the children – the clinic is packed. I am guessing we see have 150 patients today. Despite being ill, folks arrive with pride, dust off their shoes and when asked, say they are doing “well.”
These snippets, these little moments are so heart-warming (or at times, heart-wrenching), they nearly make me weep. But they remind me, each time – that while we can’t all do great things, we can all, indeed, do very small things with great, great love.
Our last full day in Haiti feels bittersweet. There is a part of me, and others, that cannot wait for the bacon cheeseburger that awaits us in the States. However, we also feel some sorrow. The Haitians are a wonderful people, and were tough to leave. It will also be hard to say goodbye to our fellow delegates. It is amazing how complete strangers come together, share joys and sorrows, and can come together as friends.
This morning, we did some last-minute activities, wrapping up some projects, including putting finishing touches on a painting of birds in a tree in the post-partum room at the clinic. Finally, it was time to say goodbye to the people of Grand-Bois.
The ride down the mountain jostled us, but we were able to make some meaningful stops. Our first stop was to visit workers building a road. We stopped and hopped out of the truck, then walked a short way to the workers. The sound of metal hitting rock greeted us. As we continued, Scott explained that ServeHAITI is financing the road. As we approached, we could hear workers singing in time with their pickaxes striking the rock. It was amazing to see the teamwork and the hard work of the men. Even with the sun beating down on their backs, they worked hard on a road that would lead to a potential well. This well, if successful, will allow people to have closer access to water. Before, the women and children would have to walk hours to get fresh water. It was a wonderful experience to witness.
Next, we stopped at a Haitian school. Before we even walked in, I noticed that where American schools would have a playground, or maybe a ball field, this school had a cow pasture. We walked into the first room, and the classroom dividers were so short that we could see the whole length of the school. Each room had a blackboard and there was a blow-up globe hanging between two rooms. We learned that there were plans to make the school nicer, so hopefully that will come to be.
Our final stop before going to our lodging for the night was an Artisan Market in Port au Prince. (www.apparentproject.org) The proprietor is woman who came with her husband to adopt but found many children actually had loving parents, they just couldn’t afford to keep them. She decided to create job opportunities so parents could afford to keep their babies. She runs a huge business employing 200 Artisans and pays them a decent wage and even provides health insurance! She sells their items in many venues including the shop in PAP that is run by Haitians. They create metal artwork, jewelry, dolls, soap, bags, ceramics, paper maché and much more. We spent a lot of time there and were able to support the people by getting some gifts to bring home. We were also able to take advantage of their café, getting slushies and smoothies!
We finally made it to “Bob’s” and spent a lot of time reflecting, both casually and officially. There were lots of laughs and maybe a few tears, but one thing was certain: we have all been changed for the better because of the opportunity we had and our trip to the wonderful nation of Haiti.
Our last full day in Grand-Bois and our group was determined to make the most of it! Although some of us started off a little tired both physically and emotionally, we pulled ourselves together to c…onnect with people, finish projects, and enjoy the trip.
Erica, Michelle, and Kaylee finished teacher training with our educators. They all graduated from the training and we had a ceremony for them outside the clinic on the front steps. They were all really excited to receive their certificates. After that the administrators of each school came to receive a bag full of school supplies, it was pretty incredible to see one of them walking down the road with a huge chalkboard.
Scott and Paige talked to the local Health Workers and presented them with rubber boats and ponchos. They were so grateful. Each of them has to walk really far during the day and this is going to help them get through the mountains to homes when it rains. It was a great meeting to connect and really hear what they need and how grateful they are for the items.
Paige, Ann, Melissa, and I hung out at the water well by the clinic throughout the day taking portraits of the people and asking them questions about their lives. Melissa and I followed two different Haitian families back to their home to get some footage of where they have to hike with a water jug on their head or a donkey carrying multiple water jugs uphill. As we got to one of the houses and asked the family some questions, the father showed us how their house was still damaged from the 2010 earthquake. It seems crazy to think that 4 years later and they still don’t have the money to fix one wall in their house but they have it patched up the best they can. It’s been a fun project to capture portraits and footage of how people in Grand-Bois live. Even though I can never fully know or understand what it’s like, I was able to get a glimpse into their life and see the hardships they face every day but I also saw the happiness that they find in the little victories and small things in life.
In the afternoon we drove to a church to deliver some items and then drove to the Dominican Republic. We hiked down a hill to a stone that shows the dividing line between the two countries to take some pictures and take in the amazing views in front of us. Needless to say it was one bumpy ride but the views alone made the trip worth it! We made it back to the clinic just in time before the rain really came down.
That evening we created our own dance party with some of the kids of the parents that work here at the clinic. We busted out some sparklers, glow sticks, and good dance moves! To top off the evening the group surprised Anne and I with a birthday cake made by one of the ladies at the local bakery. It was pretty delicious! We are off to Port-Au-Prince today so that we can catch our flights on Friday morning. We feel like we accomplished a lot, but know there is so much more that will always need to be done. Just because we are leaving doesn’t mean the work stops, there is plenty we all can do back home. Down the mountain we go!
Tuesday started off with the hopes that Melissa, Anne, and Kari would begin walking back to the home of a mother who just gave birth to her newborn baby girl Karianne Michel, named after Kari and Anne -who experienced watching the birth in the clinic. But being on island time in Haiti things didn’t happen as quickly as we originally expected. The next four hours we waited for the mother to be dismissed by one of the nurses or doctors, but they were busy stitching up a young Haitian man’s head. He had fallen out of the bed of the truck as they were making their way down the mountain. Paige was in the truck and described the experience as very emotional to her, because of the lack of emotion they displayed. The group riding along made it seem like it was no big deal. After the young man was all stitched up, the new mother was dismissed from the clinic.
We began our hike to the home of the mother, father, and mother-in-law (grandma). Grandma took the lead while also carrying Karianne, making all of us struggle to keep up with her. We hiked up the mountain which was a very steep and difficult hike. Taking forty-five minutes we finally reached our destination. As soon as we arrived Grandma began to sing and pray for the baby. She then explained later on in the interview that she was blessing the baby and that she was an angel and no demons could enter the house now. The baby’s mother told us that the grandmother had already traveled three days from close to the Dominican Republic. The maternal grandmother would travel for three hours to see the baby for only a few hours before she returned home , walking another three hours.
While in the house, the family’s neighbors gathered outside the house (over 20 people). We were thinking that it was because they were there to welcome the baby home, but it might have been because there were so many blan (what Americans are called by the Haitians)! After trekking up the mountain 45 minutes and back down 45 minutes, we talked about how that distance was considered a “close” distant for many families. Many have to travel over 5 hours to get to the clinic. We were exhausted after the trip and we were only carrying ourselves and not a newborn baby or gallon jugs of water. Another new appreciation of the challenges they face each day. The father of the baby walked us halfway back down the mountain as we were all concerned we would get lost on the way back!
Teacher training was another successful day. A visiting Geometry teacher spent a long time teaching the class. Erica, Kaylee, and Michelle explained during evaluation at the end of the night that they did not know whether the teachers were engaged in the activities because they were very expressionless. But Alfred, the translator for the classroom explained that they were like sponges and just absorbing as much of the information as they could. One teacher stood out in particular to Erica, Kaylee, and Michelle as she reviewed all of her notes from the day before and was very active in the classroom activities.
Paige commented during reflection about her time in Bouchan. She rode down with Dr. Leo to deliver food to the men working on a new road to a possible new well site. The project is being funded by ServeHAITI and the 23 workers have already gotten a lot done. They expressed their gratitude to ServeHAITI for the support and noted that the road will mean a lot to them. Paige got video of the workers as they sang and worked in a cadence.
There were also another three babies born today. Of the three laboring women, we had no idea that two of them were in labor because of their silence and calm demeanor!
Our first full day in Grand-Bois and it was an exciting one! A lot happened in our first day here at the clinic but it really got us excited for the rest of the week and what’s to come. We started the day off walking down the mountain to go to mass. Since it is the festival of St. Peter, it was pretty busy with church goers and people attending the festival. Service was longer than expected (3 hours) but there were some really cool traditions with the offering (live goats and food), beautiful music to sing along to and not even knowing the language we were able to find where we were in the program. We joined some community members at the rectory for brunch and then headed back up the mountain via the truck.
Last week we found out that the Youth Association here wanted a new guitar, so with generous donations from ServeHAITI volunteers we were able to buy a guitar and present it to them yesterday. They were so appreciative and even performed a short performance for us using the new guitar. One of the members told us that if it wasn’t for ServeHAITI and what we are doing here in the community, they wouldn’t be able to accomplish their dreams.
Afterwards the group decided to go on a little walk to get some fresh air and see the markets. Of course little ones were in tow latching on to all of us girls. Kari had her camera along and the kids loved modeling and posing for her. They couldn’t get enough of posing and then looking at their photo on the screen. She’s excited to work on her project this week talking to families, interviewing them, and capturing their portraits so she can share their story.
After heading back to the clinic, more excitement was in store for us. A man had come into the clinic because he broke his femur after a wall fell on him. We were all able to take a look at it but found out that he would need to be transported down the mountain to a hospital in Port-Au-Prince. Our group initiated the idea to contribute money to the family so that he could get down the mountain and Paige was able to present them with $100. Our group this week is taking initiative in any way we can to help out the people here in Grand-Bois.
Shortly after that, a mother came in to give birth and Ann and Kari were so excited to throw on their scrubs and get into the patient’s room where they helped deliver the baby. We forgot to mention yesterday was Ann’s birthday! What a great birthday present! The new little girl in the clinic is named Daphne and mom and baby are doing well.
As we wound down the night, Erica, Michelle, and Kaylee prepped for Teacher Training on Monday. Melissa, Ann, and Kari finished up some projects in the clinic with Scott and Paige and then we capped off the night with a great reflection. We discussed the excitement of the day, our experiences, answering questions about Haitian culture and prepping for the days ahead here in beautiful Grand-Bois!
Week 3 is off to an excellent start! Scott is already enjoying being the only man among several women (Paige, Kaylee, Kari, Erica, Michelle, Melissa, and Ann), and although we make a smaller group than usual, we are ready to be productive and helpful this week! After what could be the quickest ride up the mountain in ServeHAITI history (3 hours, including one tire change!), we arrived at the clinic at 12:45 and were greeted by all the wonderful faces that we have come to love so much. Things are busier here than normal because the festival for St. Peter’s Day is this weekend. Family, friends, Bishops, and priests have been making the journey up the mountain to join us in the festivities, and several are staying at the clinic with us. After a quick rest on our beds, the group got right to work painting waiting room benches, a clinic wall, and packing baby kits.
We went for a quick walk (with little hands in ours), and everyone commented on the beauty of this place. There is so much we all want to learn about everyday life in Grand-Bois. It’s frustrating not being able to ask our questions at any given time, but we are looking forward to discovering more about this place.
I guess when you work hard, you play hard- so we all enjoyed a fun night at the Majestic( Dr. Leo’s auberge) dancing with everyone! Dr. Leo had people hard at work last week making progress on the large theater room so that we could set up a discotec for the evening. The place was packed because of the festival. At first, the division between us and all the Haitian party-goers felt like a middle school dance, but as time passed we all began to dance with each other. It was really fun to see the division dissipate and we hope that can begin to happen in other areas as well. All the girls got to learn some new dance moves from the Haitian men, while Abraham, our translater, had a close watch on everyone
We are looking forward to mass tomorrow morning, since the service will be a special one because of the festival. As we practice our Creole and get more comfortable in this beautiful place, we hope to make some lasting relationships here in Grand-Bois!