Day Seven In Haiti Part One:
Carrie, Carmelle and I walk into Shada and a little boy recognizes me and yells and runs to me to give me a welcoming hug. It is Anderson! He is the little boy who was covered in staph and scabies in January. His skin is clear and shiny now. He has a circular scar on the back of his neck where an infected and parasite infested wound was. He proudly shows it to everyone and points to me to tell them I gave him medicine to fix it. Essential oils of clove, rosemary, and melealuca.
Today we return to check on some postpartum moms and babies and give out some more medication. We also have decided we will go to Shada One, the other side of the bridge (same side of the river). We have not been there and want to assess the need for a second Shada mobile clinic.
Anderson holds my hand and leads me to the bridge to go under it to Shada One. Here the pass off happens. Our protector and guide from Shada Two respectfully greets our new protector and guide to Shada one, but they do not cross into each other’s territory. I am told there is rivalry and it is not safe for the adults to cross from one side to the other, but the children can go safely back and forth. Thus the need for a prenatal clinic in both Shada One and Shada Two.
Anderson is excited to see our new guide. He tells me, “This is my teacher!”
The smells of the river with trash and pollution are intense. I breathe from my mouth and not my nose. There a shacks built in the black mud by the river. I take a quick glance but try not to look too curious as I don’t want to be rude. Besides, I need to watch where I step as green frothy toxic looking water collects in puddles and overflows the gutters.
Our new guide and Anderson lead us to a cement block building with a dilapidated door. It is a relief to step out of the sun into the cool of the thick walled building with cement floor. Anderson exclaims, proudly, “This is my school!”
We are shown around and our new guide, a teacher and the son of the director and owner of the school, talks to us excitedly. School is our for Easter break so he shows us the empty children’s classrooms with broken down benches and desks and chalkboards so old you can barely see the writing on them. He pulls out the attendance registry so carefully kept with the names of the children and what grade they are in. Three hundred and fifty children total. The tuition is set at 500 goudes each month (less than six dollars) but many do not pay as they do not have it.
I feel and hear the hope our guide has as he tells us he wants to partner with us in the school and offer us a place to do our mobile clinic prenatals. He poses with his father for a picture. He takes it very seriously and hangs the flag of haiti behind him to cover the wall that is aching for fresh paint.
A lump rises in my throat at the need here. This is the poorest spot I have seen in my life full of travel. We are so many in this world who have so much. Surely we can make this place better, give the children an education, help with malnutrition, get rid of the staph and scabies, provide a clean water source, fortify their homes so the dangerous waters don’t rush in, even CLEAN UP this filthy river, but most of all not give up on Shada?
My mind swirls with the immediate list: composition books, pencils, chalk boards, benches and tables for the school (benches will double as waiting room benches for mobile clinic after school let’s out) and a massage table to use as an exam table. One step at a time.