War and Peace

We woke up by 6:00 to take a morning hike up very steep Teleco mountain (which was pretty painful since the previous night's beautiful roadside picnic with a few beers and wonderful conversation with the volunteer crew haunted me slightly with a hangover this morning). But the views at the top were worth it; we could see the airport, the ocean, and all the way to the Dominican Republic.

After a much deserved nap, we were lucky enough to get a ride down the mountain. Most of the road through Petionville looks the way I remember, but every once in awhile there's still a destroyed building, and the tent cities in the parks are a grim reminder of the earthquake.

Back at the hospital, we spent the afternoon with Sister Lorraine and the abandoned babies. Two of them are no longer babies, but happy little girls who love to play tea party. Don't worry, I took multiple photos of Doug enjoying his first ever tea party with two little Haitian girls in hospital gowns. I still can't look at the photos without laughing. Sister Lorraine does not cease to amaze me. The nurses in the hospital keep the children alive and meet their basic needs, but they don't necessarily preoccupy themselves with helping them thrive. But Sister Lorraine comes every afternoon with toys and games to teach the girls who are cognitively intact and spends at least 15 minutes playing with each of the mentally disabled children on a one-on-one basis. I spent some time with Connu, a child (with maybe Cystic Fibrosis?) who was left in the cholera camp. He has pretty major hypertonicity so I employed some of my limited neuro knowledge and taught Doug some rhythmic trunk rotation while I did some passive range of motion on his arms. He loves to jabber and smile.

I ran into Johnny on the way back to Kay Germaine, a friend Molly was close to that she introduced me to last time. He lived in the Father Wasson Center but happened to be out during the earthquake. He was pretty shocked to see me, but he was nice enough to take us over to St. Louis, the new orphanage made from shipping containers that has about 100 children. The kids love Johnny and use him as a one-man jungle gym. The shipping containers have been brightened up with lots of paintings, but it still definitely lacks the homey vibe of the orphanage in the mountains. He also helped me talk to Augusnel, another friend who agreed to take us out into the city tomorrow. Johnny is still pretty broken up about Molly's death and complained that she had never done anything wrong to deserve to die. He was haunted for days afterwards at his inability to save her and said he just walked the streets and didn't sleep. Like many conversations about the earthquake, it had to end in a "C'est la vie, non?" There's not really anything else to say.

Like I said, I feel at peace here. Probably due to the fact that for the first time in a year, I'm not alone in experiencing the earthquake. But war is all around, and a lot of it internal. Doug and I talked for awhile about feeling torn between two worlds. Some days I cannot stomach the upside-down priorities, trivial problems, crappy television shows, and ignorance in the U.S. from people who ignore the suffering in other places. But some days I love a shower without a bucket and consistent electricity and water supply. And many days I am surrounded by wonderful caring people at home. And some days Haiti is exhausting and sticky hot and the mosquitos bother me and I feel isolated here too with my beginners Creole and lack of skills to help.

But c'est la vie, non?