It's time of year again

Back in Haiti for the fourth time and each year it feels more and more natural to be walking down the dusty streets, avoiding rocks, swerving motorcycles, cows, and the occasional (or not-so-occasional) persistent complimentary Haitian man.

This year I'm working with the Haitian physical therapy technicians at the St. Luc hospital again and have been encouraged by their progress and retention of material over the last year! I'm lucky enough to coincide with a team from the Mayo Clinic and I feel like they are teaching me more than I am helping, but it's nice to feel productive during the day and relax in the evening. I'm enjoying bunking with Bridget, an amazingly compassionate volunteer nurse from Michigan. I'm loving sitting outside in the warm evening with a slight cross breeze and drinking a refreshing Prestige. I'm tolerating the mosquitos, heat, and dust. I'm relishing the unconditional love from kids who don't even know me and run up to throw their arms around me after a day at school. I'm snuggling and kissing babies without parents but who receive consistent loving care, and I'm struggling to remember names and faces of employees and acquaintances that I've met year after year. Haitian names are so difficult to understand and remember!

Every morning starts off with mass and a funeral, or usually funerals. This morning there were at least six bodies, including three children - one of whom was found as a decaying body outside the hospital yesterday evening. Fr. Rick guessed that it belonged to a child whose mother didn't get them to the hospital on time.

Today's highlight was a visit to the newly constructed St. Anne house, a peaceful and bright new home surrounding a new grass courtyard that is home to our 33 youngest kiddos whose families were unable to care for them after the earthquake. I got to meet Erline, above, who is the godchild of Molly's parents and happens to be Bridget's favorite kid! I've heard of Erline from Bridget before but never made the connection that the Hightowers sponsor her.  She came to St. Anne at the age of 18 months, severely malnourished with a parasite, horrible diarrhea and psychological trauma where she could rarely tolerate being touched. Bridget describes her as a success story, and she certainly appears that way, so smiley and friendly but also relaxed and low maintenance.

Bridget is spending time in the oncology unit at St. Damien's pediatric hospital starting up a palliative care program. I met up with her yesterday to meet another of her favorites who just had his Wilm's tumor removed.  He's a ham, albeit an adorable one.