Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jan 30

Last night was interesting. We are sleeping in a courtyard of one of Aristides palaces and it's right near the airport. As things are starting to take shape and more aid is coming in apparently the military is using larger air craft. About 10 times during the night massive planes flew overhead taking off that were so low, loud and big that they shook the tents and caused all the car alarms to go off. It was fairly hairy and didn't make for a good nights sleep which is actually fine as I have been dreaming of some of the things we've seen and haven't been sleeping well anyway. It's going to take a while to shake this and I've only been here four days.

We traveled to Cange today where we are staying for a few days. Cange is about 3 hours from the Dominican border and is on what is one of the two roads that lead to Port au Prince from the dm. Half of it is paved and half not so I can see why getting supplies in is rough.

It's extremely rural and along the way there are a tremendous number of people living by the roadside in tin shacks. Most are subsistance farmers by the look of it and as such were largely unaffected by the quake. I have to admit it's nice to be somewhere where you don't see destruction and smell the smells of death for a change.

Cange is where Dr. Farmer started pih and the hospital here is absolutely huge and spread out over many acres. It's the first of 10 hospitals that they built in Haiti and understandably the flagship. It's a bit surreal to be staying in this oasis, sleeping on a real bed with clean sheets, and looking out on a gorgeous vista when so many people are suffering such a short distance away.

Having just written that, it occurs to me that minus the earthquake and the sheer numbers of the displaced, Los Angeles is no different as we will go to dinner and a movie while people up the street look for a place to spend the night. Much can be learned from all of this as there are troubles and need everywhere. But I digress.

We spent the day touring the hospital and checking out the town which is essentially one dirt road. Imagine a sophisticated hospital in one of the most rural poor areas one can think of and you understand what the pih mission is. Free healthcare for those who need it most and what's most important is that the majority of the hospital is staffed and run by Haitians. That's the key.

We met some lovely people on the street. It's sad but in la these are people I might never meet or interact with for many reasons and here it's different. Everyone smiles. Scott our sound guy and I were watching these kids pound what looked like corn meal in this old rounded in wooden stump that looked like it had been used for thirty years all smoothed out and beautiful. The kids were smiling at us so I pointed at myself and then at what they were doing and they offered us a chance. It was pretty funny because with two people you need a rhythm and we didn't have much. It was a nice connection though.

Scott and I are pretty much attached at the hip as he needs to be getting sound be out of my shot and yet we have no idea what will happen next. He's very good and has done Survivor and Amazing Race for years so he knows how to move. Cool stories from those shows too.

Off to bed in a few but I'll leave you with this. Pih had worked out a deal with several hospitals in the states to take the most seriously wounded patients for free health care and the military had offered free transport. Quite a feat. Andrew our pih contact tells us that the state department will not grant visas because the cost of the patients care will be too great. Amazing.

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