HEAL Haiti 2015 Dr. G's First Post

Haiti 2015

March 29-30

Well, the most difficult part of the journey thus far was getting here.  Who would have guessed that Port au Prince airport is better run than American Airlines and the Miami airport.  Our 1 1/2-hour flight took about 18 hours by the end of it.  Delay in flight, smoke in the cockpit, a turnaround mid air, a 5 hour line in Miami airport, a night in a hotel in Miami, a 330 am taxi to Fort Lauderdale, a 2 hour line to get on the plane, a 1 hour ordeal to get our bags through customs but finally a familiar face in the dusty hot parking to greet us.  Joel emerged from the crowd in a nice cap and un-scuffed Nike airs.  Haiti now feels familiar.  I know people here.  It feels like a visit with family I have not seen for a year. It is odd because I am aware I don’t really belong here.  I leave my comfort zone every time.   With each visit I can anticipate a very real experience.  I keep learning.  I am working hard now to give more to Haiti than what I feel I have gotten out of it. 

Instead of all arriving on one flight as planned, we arrived in small groups. We loaded up the bus with so many suitcases stuffed with supplies and medications that we sat 2 to a seat and took the 4-hour trip to the town of Mussote.  Before we left Port au Prince Gladys Thomas, the CEO of USFCH, popped into the guesthouse in PAP where we were waiting for the others to arrive, she was really excited.  She had mentioned that she wanted to buy land in Mussote to build a hospital last year but got caught in a bureaucratic nightmare with it.  Well, the deal went through, and she has seed money to build the school she is dreaming of.  She has a vision of building a technical school that will train plumbers, electricians, engineers, computer engineers, and then to add a clinic and then a hospital.  This was incredible.  I have been reading a bit and getting up to speed on global health, and the theme that really makes sense is teaching those who stay in Haiti is the largest gift you can give.  Anyway, this would fit perfectly into H.E.A.L.’s purpose of empowerment.  As quickly as we saw Gladys she had to go.  She looked beautiful.  Always elegant and well dressed.     

Next move, squeezing most of the group into the bus, 2 per seat to make room for the massive number of 50 pound suite cases filled with medications and supplies, then about 15 of for a 4-hour bus ride to the mountains.  Upon arrival every year there is the dismay of the trash and crowded misery of PAP, then the ahhh when we finally reach the top of the mountain of Mussote to the guesthouse.  It is spectacular with the farms, the hills, the ocean the bright green grass next to the red dirt, the cool air, after the rough journey it is always a sight for sore eyes.  The hired chef, and lovely little house mama made a refreshing evening meal.  We slept well. With 23 people, 2 bathrooms and 9 beds, 10 floor mats, 3 hours of electricity, limited water we somehow made it work.