Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saturday, March 27th...

Ou fini. Ou kapab ale kunye.

You are finished. You may go now. And so began our last day in Haiti. It started out very slow. Most of our team was up by 5:40am after staying up way too late talking. No one wanted to go to bed; we had such an awesome team! We were going to see our first team member off, but they were picking people up @ the same time, and didn't have room. The poor travel coordinator for MOH has a very crazy job. There are constantly people going to and from the airport, plus teams getting their beach day, not to mention emergency transports of pts to local hospitals. This wouldn't be such an issue, since MOH has several ambulances, except the Haitian govt is now confiscating any vehicles on the road without Haitian plates, and you can imagine the red tape to get them.
As we were driving to PAP today, we saw so many tap taps loaded to the gills with people - hanging out the back, off the sides, on the top..... - and I kept thinking of the man we couldn't arrange transport for the other day who was so sick and had to find his own way to the hospital in town.
But back to this morning, which just dragged. One of the American teams was @ the beach, and the other had an earlier flight out, so the guest house was much quieter than normal. We got to hear Vanessa's story about how they adopted their 2 Haitian children, which was pretty incredible. Once our turn came for the ride to the airport, though, everything moved quickly. We left a little early for a tour of PAP. You can see part of it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vpbmh-qlPUw . The devastation was unreal, but so is the response of the Haitians. They are, for the most part, an incredibly happy people, quick with a smile and a greeting. One of our girls asked at one point on the trip how they stayed so happy, and the person replied, "We have to. It is the only way to survive." As we drove through the city and past the tent areas, it was a common site to see people bathing in buckets on the side of the road. Going down the streets, hug buildings were collapsed, while ones right next to them were still standing. But life continues. Kids smiled and played. Adults sold their wares in the street market. Crazy drivers wove in and out of traffic. And everywhere, cell phones. On the way to and from the compound, we passed the mass grave in Titanyen, where over 200,000 people were buried. There is such a difference in mentality between these people and adults and children in the US. These people showed up for clinic long before 8am, knowing if they didn't get in line early, they might not get in that day, and that even if they got in, it might be afternoon before they were seen. But it was rare that anyone became unpleasant. Kids sat patiently in moms' laps or played quietly with one another. None really misbehaved. Everyone was grateful for anything you did. Life is very different. And now I'm sitting on a huge plane headed to Miami. From there, it's quick goodbyes (I hate goodbyes), and a mad dash through customs before catching my flight back to Richmond.

Post note: Getting back to Richmond was not as easy as it would have seemed. Our plane out was on time, ready to go, but a flight to Philadelphia was not, so for some reason, they gave them our plane, and made us wait for a new one. Which meant instead of leaving at 9, we left @ 11p, which means instead of getting home around 1ish, I got home around 4ish.....Oh well.....I love to fly, but I'm really starting to hate the airlines.

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