In America we may be told to wait for fifteen minutes to be seen by a doctor, but God forbid we await sixteen or the whole building may go up in flames. Now wrap your mind around walking a days distance, spending the night outside then waiting 30-40 minutes before being checked in. That was the story of one woman and her semi-blind adolescent son.
Building on yesterday we skated through our morning quickly, setting up our eight stations and opening the clinic. A lengthy line greeted us at the gate once again as we prepared for what should be a smooth day in our make-shift clinic. Graciously, it was.
“Bonswa, mwen rele Wil, koman ou rele?”, the words of Will, a non Haitian med student greets his patient (you almost couldn’t tell). I can totally agree with Dr. Wodajat** in that the very beautiful part of the trip is the success that came from allying 18 people of very different backgrounds under one common goal. The end product was constructive damage. We did damage for the better in that we we combatted health ailments, stigmas, stereotypes and misconceptions. Might I add that we did it so extremely well?
Today was an island breezed. We were overbooked, ran out of many medications and had to run out to restock, had a shortened lunch, personnel issues and one of our professionals left early. It doesn’t sound like it breezed by right? Still none of these issues held us back in the least. Truth be told, our focus caused us to barely notice them. ‘Clean the affected area, dry thoroughly then apply Clotrimazole twice daily, take Omeprazole once a day and make sure you take this Carovit with food’ were the droning words coming from the Pharm Team.
Wholly, the population was appreciative to have us. Elders were grateful and attentive, children greeted us timidly but soon opened up (through the magic of candy) and everyone in between inquired when we would return. The children were hands down the best part. Having been attached to her hip for an hour, “I felt torn after the little left”, Raisa explained later in the day. We’ve grown attached to this place and to each other within the last few days, I’m sure we all share the same sentiment.
To conclude our day, today’s health seminar focused on sexual education. Splitting into guys and girls, we divided like the Red Sea and began to combat any and every bit of incorrect information presented. I’m pretty curious how it would go had the guy students spoken to girls and vice versa.
Expectedly there was a major difference with the regard for the subject matter between guys and girls: the guys were more exploratory and open while I was told by the ladies that their conversation was less forward (maybe even teeth grinding). That’s not hard to believe considering the discomfort felt and roundabout methods used when probing questions concerning female sexual organs. True story, one patient yelled at me for asking her for details about her menstrual associated abdominal pains.
I have a question, one young man raised his hand, “Eske ou capab fe yon ti bagay pandan ou geyen chikungunya?”. Can you still have sex if you have chikungunya, translated for the non creole speaking students. The question stirred laughter in everyone. The answer is yes but being culturally sensitive sensitive and contextually aware, the answer is never that simple. “Being that you have had it before, Did you feel well enough to have sex?” 2nd year medical student Stevenson creatively finds a way to begin to address the question. The laughter began again. The best conversations occur when both parties are comfortable enough to be open about theses issues.
Like a movie, we capped off the day with a unexpected surprise. Mackens, a young native, charismatically won a couple of us over, showed us something spectacular. He guided us on a path to a hill looking over the entire city; from there we had a clear view the airport, mountains, beaches and horizon. It was beautiful. There is not a more perfect way to end a trip than by returning, full circle, back to the starting point: observing Haiti’s naturalesque beauty.
Slowly there after we moved to the van. This would be our last time at the school turned clinic. I’m not sure if anyone is prepared fortomorrow. Denmen (tomorrow) will be the last installment for our #MedSquaaad (three a’s this time), or atleast for now. Solemnly pulling off we braced ourselves for our last night in Haiti.
Till the morning
A content Med Squaaader