Sunday, February 7, 2010

February 7th

We slept on the floor of one of the buildings in Cange last night. Definitely more comfortable than the compound in Port Au Prince but as usual I only slept about 4 hours. The problem seems to be that something will stir me awake and then the second I'm up everything comes flooding in and that's it. I'm told that I should expect this for a while as its been an insanely intense few weeks and I have in no way been able to process much of it at all.

At 9 we headed down to the church (it's actually one of the dorms since the church is full of patients) and filmed the church service for 2 and a half hours. It was actually quite beautiful as there were several choirs and a lot of singing in general. That said, some of the speeches went on a bit long and since they were all in Creole they seemed even longer.

Dr. Farmer made a speech which even with the language barrier seemed to me to be quite impassioned and funny as well. He has an interesting manner about him and reeks of sincerity. Joia also spoke and invoked the We Shall Overcome saying and then in a really beautiful voice sang an acappella version of the song in French. It was quite stirring and the entire congregation filled in for the second verse. Pretty cool.

We had heard that there was supposed to be a memorial service but for some reason it didn't happen. The most stirring point of the morning though was communion. As people were lining up a bunch of the nurses got up together. I recognized a few of them and some were new but one in particular caught my attention. A young Haitian nurse all dressed in white missing her arm just below the elbow. It was fairly obvious from the dressing that this was a recent wound. So here is this woman who has just lost her forearm within the last few weeks and who knows what else and she is back to work. It's amazing and truthfully from what I've seen not out of the ordinary.

We then shot an hour long interview with Dr farmer. He's a pretty incredible guy and extremely humble. Pih has hospitals in Peru Malawi Siberia Rwanda and a dew other places I've forgotten. All are in the middle of slums and all are free. It's quite impressive. The whole model revokes around the community health worker idea. Employee and train people to do community outreach and follow up so that patients continue to improve. At the same time work with them to improve nutrition housing and education. And no one is denied. I'm sure the reality is not always as cut and dry but it's extremely impressive and even he admits it's not really all that novel of an approach just no one seems to be doing it. He was asked about the aid coming into Haiti and pointed out that aid doesn't do anything unless it actually shows up. He pointed out that since the hurricane hit in 08 less than 10% of the pledged money has come in.

We drove to la colons to visit la hospital de los cohobes, the hospital we had seen the night before. It's even more impressive during the day. I took a walk through the village to shoot some b roll and as usual found a gaggle of kids who tagged along to watch the video screen. They are always really. Ute and inevitably one or two of them will Come up and take your hand to walk with you. They also all say good morning regardless of why time it is.

I shot a few street scenes and some pics of the kids and then saw a square area with a roaster in it and benches around it. I asked Andre our driver if it was what I thought it was and you guessed it a cock fighting arena. Lovely. I try not to judge but that did bug me a bit.

Were back in port au prince tonight for one last night on the concrete before we head home. I won't miss that much. I also won't miss the 14 hour shooting days, eating power bars, cold showers, washing my clothes in a bucket, the same one we use to add water to the toilets when we want to flush, mosquitos, Exhaustion, heat rashes, chloroquine, death, amputees, destruction, low flying cargo planes, children asking for dlo (creole for water) and so many other things. What I will miss though are the Haitian people and the docs and nurses I've met here.
One in particular is andre our driver. For starters he's a mad man behind the wheel. Safe but he doesn't like to get stuck in traffic so driving on sidewalks going the wrong way and pushing through where a car shouldn't fit are all fair game. He seems to enjoy cutting off UN trucks as well which I find quite funny.
Andre is probably in his 40s but it's hard to tell. He's a hustler, not in a bad way but in a works every angle to provide for his family way. He was telling me about a couple of jobs he has including Amway and how they have all stopped and now he is driving for a tour company. He is struggling as he has three kids who are 18 to 20 and he doesn't want to send them to the states bit may have no choice. His family and house are ok but he has been sleeping outside with them anyway as everyone else is doing. He's taken in several friends as well who have lost family and houses. Scott told me that one of Andre's friends had lost everything and that he was going to ask pih for a tent for his friend. I went up to Andre and said " I hear one of your friends lost his house" intending to then ask what else we could do for him but Andre cut me short and said " most of my friends have lost their houses". It's quite sobering.
He's a great guy though and had a great sense of humour. We've had a lot of talks about Haiti and religion as he is very religious. I asked him bow he could except the earthquake and still believe in god and he said that he doesn't understand it but he knows that everyone has a mission in life and if you were spared there is still work to be done.
He told me about a friend who had lost her husband only to find that two days later he w alive under a building. A huge pylon had crushed him from the waste down and it took another day to get a machine to lift it up. They gave him medicine of sown sort and food and Andre said he was lucid and smiling and everyone thought he'd be ok. They lifted the pylon and he died a few minutes later.
You hear these crazy stories everywhere.
One other thing we heard today is that the us geological society or something like that is predicting a 6.0 here within the next month. I can't even imagine. Andre told me that outside of town people have been flocking to this area where two hills moves so much that they are actually touching now. He said he'll send a pic.

We leave on either a pih charter or a military cargo plane to tomorrow at 1. Depending on where we land (the military takes you where ever they go). I'll be back on Tuesday.

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