January 28, 2012


The Mariani Clinic

Bonsoir!  Love from haiti.  
I don’t even know where to start, except that I LOVE it here.  In the past few days, I’ve gotten used to no electricity, felt an earthquake, killed a couple tarantulas (alright, I had someone else kill them), started to learn Creole, and met and worked with some really lovely people, both Haitians and Americans.  
Some of my first few impressions:
Haiti is improving SO much.  We drove from the airport to the clinic, and then back again a few days later to pick up a team that had arrived.  I was talking to some of the people from the team, and they said this was the poorest country they had ever seen or imagined.  Which is true.  It is still extremely poor.  But honestly, to see the amount of progress that has taken place even in the past six months is incredible.  Many of the tent cities are mostly cleared out, and they’ve actually installed traffic lights in some parts of Port-Au-Prince.  Everything seems a little less chaotic.  Apparently, the new president is a good man and has been making a lot of great changes in Haiti.   
Living is basic.  But over the past few days I’ve realized I love the simplicity.  There is no electricity, except sometimes during the day when the generator is on.  I’ve been getting used to not having a cell phone or constant access to the internet and its actually somewhat freeing.  While the guest house is being built (it will be a long room attached to the downstairs kitchen/eating area), I am staying upstairs in one of the rooms where they usually see patients.  Its a small square room with concrete walls and a floor, where I have my mat and mosquito net set up.  There is a long table that I keep my suitcases on, a small sink, and a window that’s always open to a blue sky and palm trees.  I’ve set up pictures and a couple other things, and I’m actually getting quite attached to it. : ) The building has a roof, but it is very much open to the outside.  From one of the rooms and the balcony upstairs you can walk onto the guest house roof.  That’s one of my favorite places so far.  It’s a beautiful place to watch the stars or the sunset and you can see la Mer, the ocean, from there.  
We wake up around 6 each morning, cook breakfast, have devotions, and wait for the teams to get here.  This week there is a team from PA, and they have been working on the guest house and teaching at one of the local orphanages.  I’ve been sorting through about forty big boxes of medical supplies and donations.  The clinic is usually open three days a week, except when medical teams are here from the States.  I haven’t done much medical work yet, except for today when I cleaned and bandaged a bloody knee of one of the team members.  Straight up first-aid haha.  But we will have a medical team coming soon, so I’ll be able to work with a nurse or doctor then!  However, I did get to hold a lot of cute Haitian babies and talk to their moms as they waited for their turn to see the Doctor.  The team stays until after dinner, and then heads back to their hotel.  The sun goes down by 6 each night, all year long, and because there is no electricity at night, we rely on lanterns and flashlights after 6.
Leslee and I stay here at the clinic with Willio- our security guard and a friend from the last two summers.  After the electricity goes out and the sun goes down, the three of us usually hang out on the roof for a while.  We just sit in the dark and talk about life and whatever else, in a mixture of Creole and French and English.  Willio has been teaching us Creole.  Then by 8 or 9, I usually get ready for bed, zip myself into my mosquito tent, and read or write about the day.  I’ve probably written over 30 pages in my journal already, of all the stories and observations from the past five days.  
The animals are wild here.  At 8 PM the roosters start crowing, and the dogs, chickens, donkeys, and other creatures all act up at random times throughout the night.  If you know the scene from 101 Dalmations where every dog in the entire city is howling at the top of its lungs, you can imagine what I am talking about.  Also at around 8, you hear loud singing and music coming from the Catholic church nearby, and around four in the morning every day the city of Mariani has chanting and singing for about an hour.  
I’m learning to make peace with the bugs.  Or at least accept that they are everywhere.  We killed nine large cockroaches the first night and a few more since then.  I woke up one morning to Leslee calling Willio to come kill a tarantula.  Then I saw one in the bathroom yesterday morning.  I made Willio kill that one too, but I’m thinking pretty soon I’ll be brave enough to kill them myself.  One of the mornings we were there, the clinic shook slightly.  It was a small earthquake, and apparently they occur somewhat often.  There is so much to get used to, but its pretty cool how quickly you can adapt to a new environment.   
Honestly, it is impossible to describe life here adequately.  I’d have to be a much better writer to do that.  I wish you could all come here and experience everything... the natural beauty of the country mixed with extreme poverty, the simplicity of life here, and the kindness of the people.  It’s a completely different world here, and in many ways its like breathing fresh air.  Alright... I know I just wrote a book about my trip and I’ve only been here for five days.  My other entries will probably be much shorter, but there’s just so much to talk about.


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  2. Corrected Comment: Mom doesn't like the ground shaking part or the cockroaches but we both love everything else. Dave Burt's son Joel mailed home a live tarantula to his folks when he was in Haiti last year. Just saying...

  3. Hi Katie, Really enjoyed reading your post. Will look fwd to reading future entries. Praying for God's grace to protect, instruct and empower you in the months ahead. BTW, don't the tarantulas eat bugs? The one our son brought here would eat small mice, and any larger bug it could get. Just wondering if you might declare a truce with them and see how they might do at keeping the bug population down... :) but maybe that's not workable..
    - Dave (and Sue ) Burt