Friday, April 3, 2015: We’ve come to the final work day of the Sisters of Mercy Urgent Care Team #13 in Haiti. We started at the Alpha Omega Clinic in Cabaret with a prayer and exchange of reflections upon our visit. Dr. Ellen Lawson is on her 11th trip here and has deep insight of this mission. Our sons Patrick and Glenn both spoke of receiving as much or more than they gave. Glenn said that this visit “recharged” us. I agree. This model feels right to me since we are helping build a permanence in this medically underserved community. We come and go, but the Alpha Omega Ministry continues. The workday was short due to Good Friday. There were only two ultrasounds scheduled so they sent me with the mobile team. I even got a stethoscope. On the way to clinic in Arcahaie, we were stopped for ten minutes by a Good Friday procession. It was attended by nearly everyone in town and came complete with a man carrying a cross. As soon as I saw it I knew the clinic schedule would be light. I only saw a few patients but it was fun. Dr. Lawson helped with my rusty prescribing. One patient was a 30 year-old male with diabetes. I was impressed with how many visits he had made to the mobile clinic as I scanned his chart. They are watching his sugars tightly. This wouldn’t be happening without the mobile program.
After clinic, we packed up and said our goodbyes to the wonderful mobile staff. We then headed a little further north to a resort. Yes I said resort. We were just looking and doing some “souveniring” from the local vendors. Is there such a thing as tourism? Come take a tour of the tourists! That’s what we were doing. It was something. I didn’t know this existed in Haiti. Immaculate grounds with an open air restaurant. Pool with tiki bar, beautiful beach overlooking crystal clear water in the shadow of cloud-covered mountains. It’s about $125 a night. Not too many locals can afford it as most Haitians live on a dollar a day. Talk about juxtaposition! Our next stop was Drs. Vlad and Merline’s home to enjoy lunch and to visit with their young children VJ and Annie. We finally scored some fried plantains! I even got to see the “banan pressé” used to flatten the fruit. VJ spent the entire meal in Ellen’s lap sharing her plate and fork. We are now back at the compound packing up and enjoying our last few minutes on the roof. I feel tired…and recharged. Bonswa, John Ende, MD
[After an over-sold return flight from Charlotte to Asheville, Team Mercy #13 arrived safely home very late the night before Easter.]
Thursday, April 2, 2015: Today I did more ultrasounds and the mobile team served Tent City. They had their busiest clinic. Tent City is very close to where we stay in Bon Repos. It is an area that is being settled by those displaced by the 2010 Earthquake. The “tents” are nearly all cinder block now. These homes cover the hillside as it sweeps up from Route 1. It’s crowded and poor, even for Haiti. After work we got a real pick me up at my personal favorite orphanage in Bon Repos. The trip is not easy. It involves traversing Bon Repos at rush hour, no easy task. Then you wind your way back through narrow walled streets with pot holes bigger than children’s lawn pools. It is a maze that ends at a gated door. A quick honk and the gate rolls back inviting the van into the quiet courtyard. The children all greet you with hugs and smiles. No one is un-hugged by everyone. Then they take their places under the almond tree and sing you a song. It’s really a treat. We then gave to the exceeding polite children some flip flops, soccer balls and lollipops, but we always receive more than we give. That’s how the whole trip is. Bonswa, John Ende, MD
Wednesday, April 1, 2015: Today was a busy day that started early. We participated in a big celebration marking three years of the fixed clinic serving patients. I did a full schedule of ultrasound patients in half a day. Lots of interesting cases. We were late starting due to the celebration. Several gallbladders were contracted as our patients were enjoying the bounty of the fete before their exams. The mobile clinic was up on the mountain in Tapyo. Although our team made the long and beautiful drive up there, no patients were waiting. They tracked down a newborn to hand out a diaper kit and then it seemed that babies were coming from everywhere. Many kits were happily distributed and received. We all regrouped at the end of the day and traveled to some newly purchased land that will ultimately house the permanent fixed clinic. It was all a huge surprise revealed to the staff who had a great time guessing what the big surprise might be. Dr. Vladimyr Roseau and Dr. Ellen Lawson broke ground, and we all applauded except for a concerned neighbor. He came over and began arguing with our whole group in creole. I thought he might be saying that we were on his land, but it turned out that he just wanted to make sure we weren’t doing any voodoo! The group reassured him that voodoo was not involved and he then asked for employment once construction begins. It was a great moment that you will not likely find outside of Haiti.