Monday, April 5, 2010

Haiti: Day 2

Easter Sunday

Day 2 of our mission is Easter Sunday. The city of Leogane had a great feel about it today. A group of about 15 of us from the residence decided to attend Easter services at an Epicopalian church near the site of the old, damaged l'hospital St. Croix (the current one being the set of tents I mentioned yesterday). The walk through town was a really valuable experience; I'm not sure how many more similar opportunities I'll have, as I'm starting to expect we'll be very busy on the medical compound. Everyone was conducting their business as usual, going to church themselves, washing clothes, getting haircuts etc., as one might expect on any Sunday morning. Of course, the sight of 14 White women and one strange-looking Black dude was cause for pretty much everybody we passed to pause and watch us go by. Aside from the local kids yelling "Blanc! Blanc!" Everyone pretty much just waved or gave us a "Bonjour!" It was a beautiful morning, too. The walk also let me get a closer look at the extent of the destruction in the town.

Many homes/businesses are completely demolished, most are partially damaged but uninhabitable, some are OK. People have set up tents aligning the streets, right outside of their previous homes. Most streets are lined with a pile of rubble on both sides, pushed away from the tents, often making travel down the streets difficult. Motorcycle appears to be the current preferred mode of transportation, for several obvious reasons (e.g. space, gas mileage...immediately after the earthquake, gas prices rose to nearly $100 US/gallon...they're currently down to about $5/gallon.)

So, many times on the way to the church, I almost got hit by a motorcycle. Or a truck. Or an ox. The church service was great. Immediately, though, I felt very much like an outsider. And not because of the congregation, the service, or anything like that. It was because I realized I was embarrasingly underdressed. Everone had on their Sunday best...the men had on their slacks, shirts, ties, fly shoes(of course), some even suits, despite the 80-90 degree humid weather. The women had on their nice dresses, and the little girls wore their Easter whites, making me REALLY miss my sweethearts back home. But me...with my American, fairer-skinned, glasses-wearing, rollin with 14 white women ass, walks into church on Easter Sunday wearing shorts, a polo, and sandals, for Godssakes. I had to look like a complete idiot. The workers I went with I'm sure weren't aware that they, too, were underdressed...but no matter. Occasionally, people here in Haiti come up to me speaking Kreyol, thinking that I'm one of them. Not this morning at the church. It was pretty clear to all that I wasn't......

Again, the service was great. It was an Episcopal service, much less animated and shorter than I expected (given my Baptist/AME-ish background). I got a chance to meet the minister, and we made our way back. We were going to make a trip to the beach, and some did, but I decided to wait until later. The clinic was closed for the morning, but many of the group returned to work in the hospital. The rest of the day James and I spent brainstorming about Monday, when we will meet Hilda, the director of the Nursing School. "She rules with an iron fist.." they tell us. Once we meet her, we'll have a better idea of what resources we'll have available to us, and have a clearer view of our goals and objectives. I downloaded some great information from more tools and information that will help us be more useful while we're here.

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