Haiti Day 1 (September 9, 2012)

[NOTE: I will post a series of blogs related to the recent Train Midwives Save Lives trip to Haiti, probably one blog post for each day we were out in the field. I will do my best to do this daily over the next several days … but you know how that goes!]

We arrived in Port au Prince this morning at about 9am after flying overnight from Denver.  The trip, as a whole was uneventful.  There are four of us from the States on this trip: Lisa (Aid in Action and also a midwife who has blessed me with sharing contacts and knowledge of Haiti. Without Aid in Action’s help, this trip never would have happened. The work we will do over the coming days and years with these particular groups of midwives will likely be in conjunction with Aid in Action.), Liz (a college student who is interning with Aid in Action), and Dana (a videographer who is along to document the trip through pictures).  The four of us do not really know each other (ok – I have never met Liz and Dana and I have only peripherally known Lisa as another midwife in Colorado). Thankfully, personalities meshed quite well and were all able to travel well together, enjoy each other’s company, get the work done, and learn learn learn.

I have come to Haiti with no real expectations, but hopes that we will be able to distribute clean birth kits and gather some data regarding the needs of midwives in a variety of locales.  From my perspective, this is largely an information-gathering trip and an opportunity to find out where Train Midwives Save Lives can work in Haiti and whether or not the midwives in country are even open to receiving the training.

As we flew into the city, I was fascinated to see that there had been far more cleanup accomplished (after the earthquake) than I had anticipated. Are there still piles of rubble and buildings that are half standing? Yes.  But there has also been a lot of work done to clear the rubble and rebuild. The airport, however, has not been rebuilt and arrivals come into a “terminal” that, I believe, was set up after the earthquake.

As soon as the plane lands, I can tell that it’s hot … and I don’t mean North Idaho “hot” …. I mean HOT. I’ve been following the weather in Haiti for almost a year now and it is pretty much always around 100 degrees Fahrenheit with extremely high humidity. Hot.  And, unfortunately, since we were only there for a week, it wasn’t really enough time to adjust to the heat.  But, that’s a minor issue and not really something worth complaining about. After all, it is also a place where people do not necessarily have a place to live, do not necessarily have access to clean water, and do not necessarily have access to sufficient amounts of food. Who cares if it’s hot?!?

Jean, our translator and driver for the week, picked us up promptly at the airport.  [side note: I am so thankful that Jean helped us throughout the week. He was very patient and an excellent translator and host. I so appreciate all of the insight he has regarding Haitian culture and, in particular, maternity-related needs.] … and so the adventure began.  Four-wheeling in the city!  The roads are horrible and hilarious at the same time.  Many pot holes. No traffic laws (at least not any that appear to be enforced). People everywhere: driving in cars, riding motorbikes, catching a tap-tap (sort of an independent taxi/bus), walking, selling goods on the street-side.Image

Ahhh … *this* is life. The city is living, breathing, moving on.

Our day is filled with delivering American treats to friends of Lisa, driving out to Titanyen to pick up the bags that we had made by a sewing project in that village (the bags are AMAZING!), and settling into the hotel. For this trip, we are staying in Port au Prince so as to be centrally located.  Throughout the week, I will learn all-to-well that it takes a long time to get anywhere in the PaP area. It’s a big city and there is a lot of traffic … oh, and did I mention the condition of the roads?!

Tomorrow, we are off to the village of Prospere.

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