Bonjou Les Anglais
Trip Start Jan 29, 2009
11Trip End Feb 08, 2009
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Quick Creole lesson....
Komon ou ye (how are you)?
N'ap boule (good)
Mesi (thanks), Non mesi (no thanks)
Pa gen pwoblem (no problem)
Kijon ou rele (what is your name)?
Our first night of sleep in Les Anglais proved to be even more challenging than Port Salut. I woke up several times to mosquitoes buzzing around my head and ears, dogs barking all night, and then a little sleep. This pattern continued all night but the roosters started at 4:30 and then music started around 6 a.m. I don't know how anybody sleeps around here. I woke up and had red bug bites all over my body but thank go they didn't itch or hurt...I just looked funny. The next task was going to the bathroom. We were fortunate to have a bathroom in the house but no running water. We would have to get our water to flush things down the toilet. We quickly made a rule that everyone goes #2 out back in the latrine although someone wasn't following the rule for the first two days. It wasn't so pretty when you walked into the bathroom and then had a nice surprise waiting for you hangn' out in the toilet. We quickly put an end to that...especially since our bedroom was right next to the bathroom. We put up a big sign that read "NO POOH"
Anyway, breakfast was made for us in the morning which usually consisted of bread, eggs, peanut butter, milk, coffee/juice, and fruit. After breakfast, our team divided into sub teams consisting of the health assessment team, mapping, repairs team, and water sampling. This was our first big day of work. My partner on the health assessment team was Kay and for the first few days our interpretor was Etienne Francois. Etienne is a local guy that turned out to know everybody in this entire area. I could write pages of everything Etienne has done for this area. He has loaned people money to start new businesses, he has trained people how to farm their own food and also sell it, and he started training people in the community to be his 'agents' as he calls them. He trains them how to grow a garden, harvest, cook. After training the agents, they go and teach others in their communities the same skills and so on. He gives them a certificate and he has a graudation ceremony at the end of the training. When you were walking around town, you could see some of the gardens that he taught people to grow. Sometimes he will pay people with animals if they plant certain things successfully. With all of the development work and millions of dollars going to developing countries, I think he has the right idea to create a sustainable project that will benefit the people. Plus something that they can take ownership of within their communities.
Our first task was to tour and meet with the head nurse at the clinic. Her name was Alvina. Like I mentioned before the clinic was really nice and we found out that a resident doctor is assigned there each year. In total there are four nurses and several community health agents that report to the nurses. The agents go out to the communities and educate households on nutrition, hygiene, and vaccinations. I was really impressed with the system they set up. The downfall to the clinic is that there is no running water and they only have a few medications which most of the people can't afford anyway. Another challenge is that Voodoo is prominent in Haiti and many people will see their local voodoo priest when they are really sick instead of the clinic. Alvina said that they have been working with the voodoo priests to refer people to the clinic if the patient isn't improving with voodoo. It has been challenging to say the least. There has been a pretty successful vaccination program implemented in the community. Many of the kids we saw throughout the week were current on their vaccinations. Despite widespread malnutrition, Alvina reported that the women deliver babies that are on average around 3 kg which is pretty good.
Other interesting facts:
*US-AID provides free condoms however, many people don't get them because they are afraid of people knowing they are having sex. There isn't a lot of privacy in this community.
*Major diseases they see the most are typhoid, tuberculosis, diarrhea, malnutrition including anemia
*When people have major sickness, they have to go to Les Caiyes for treatment.
*Many women will not come to the clinic to give birth. They prefer to stay at home. This is something the clinic is trying to change but it has been difficult especially without running water.
Overall, the interview was very interesting and we found out about a medical team going down to the area so I was actually able to get in touch with them before they left to share the information we obtained.
The next meeting was a town hall meeting to discuss the water system with the local leaders of the different communities and the mayor. We were really happy to see that approx. 30 people came to discuss the water system. In short, the community is very concerned about not having clean water. It was sad because they all know the water system inside and out but the problem is that they don't have the tools or resources to fix it. It must be so frustrating. It didn't help to know that we were told the wrong size of PVC pipe to bring from Port Au Prince. Yet, another obstacle. Overall, it was a successful meeting and everyone was excited to get to work.
That evening, I took a four wheeler ride to an overlook of the coast which was beautiful (Pictures attached). You could see the whole coastline and look back down on Les Anglais. The kids loved seeing the four wheeler that we had brought from Port Au Prince. I attached a picture of Les Anglais from the lookout point. Again, it was absolutely beautiful!!!!
We went to bed for yet another sleepless night!