Thursday, June 15, 2006

Haiti Mission Trip Part VI

Days Five & Six: The Weekend

The weekend is a bit of a loss from a medical standpoint. Sunday is church day in the highly Christian society, and Saturday is a day to get ready for Sunday. Wilbert had arranged for us to go to one of the resort beaches in Haiti. While that must sound like an extreme oxymoron, the island offers some gorgeous beaches and the one we are to visit is called The Cormier.

UN personnel relax here along with people on religious and medical missions. We are told that the beach was 15 to 20 minutes away. I am sure that’s accurate in "Haiti Time," though in "New York Time" that means more like an hour and a half.

What has impaled this trip in my memory banks–not embedded, not anchored, not etched, but impaled–is the fact that we had to travel over a mountain, while standing in the back of a dump truck with no sides, to get to the beach. I found myself looking from the side of the truck as we inched closer and closer to the edge of the road and the several hundred foot drop. I begin planning how I would get out of the truck in case of a rollover.

Our hosts want us to have a relaxing time and for us to recharge our batteries for the next set of clinics. The beach, I must admit, is stunning, and that’s coming from a Hamptonite. The fact that we had to cross that same mountain again to return home somewhat diluted the restorative powers of the Haitian waters.

Having survived Saturday, we attended church in Borde with Pastor Marius. Aware of the wounds he received, I stood amazed as he preached with unbridled passion to his flock. He is wearing a suit in 100-degree weather and giving a sermon that must have been as much of a workout as one leg of a ironman triathlon. I half expected him to collapse at the rate he was going, but he did not.

On Monday we visited the Cap Haitian Clinic. Pastor Julio, who had volunteered for the first two days of our trip, is now in his fifth day of translating. Lindsey, our pediatric team nurse, Pastor Julio and I experience one of those rare times when you meet someone you bond with from the first encounter. I was thrilled to have him translating again.

The clinic is swamped. As with all our visits, we did our best to see and treat everyone. Once again, the sick children piled in. Perhaps the sickest child is a young girl named Marlie, who has a severe heart murmur. She complained of symptoms whenever she played with other children. Her health remains uncertain.

The day ends and we hand over our remaining medical supplies to the nurse at the clinic, Madam Kesnel, and return to the compound. Tomorrow will be our last day in Haiti and the thought of seeing my wife and daughters again has me wishing the clock hands around the face at light speed.


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