Thursday, November 20, 2008


The last week and a half...

Ashley, the executive director of CNP, flew into Port Au Prince a week before the convention was to commence where the Hospital hoped to make great strides in resurrecting it's existence in Leogane. In that week Ashley, Kara, and I were busy with meetings and planning for the expansion of the existing programs and surveying opportunities to upgrade our infrastructure on the ground. This week was very busy, especially the latter half...

Mitch and Sherry from Chattanooga and Lisa and Cynthia from Ann Arbor flew in that weekend and were willing to help HSC by hosting out patient clinics on both Monday and Tuesday prior to the meetings in Port Au Prince. Mitch and Sherry work along side a Haitian Cardiologist and were able to see 75 or more specialized cardiac patients during those two days performing EKG's and Echo Cardiograms on almost every patient. I was able to observe some of their work and it was evident that these consultations were very time consuming and more intricate than a normal mobile clinic. Big thanks to Mitch, Sherry, Lisa, Cynthia, and Dr. Casnel for the time and skills!! Also, while they were servicing cardiac patients the hospital was providing primary care through several doctors from the community that were volunteering their time along side of nursing students from the local school. It was great to see everyone doing their part to provide a great couple of days for the community.

Everyone headed into Port Au Prince for the next few days to engage in meetings that we hoped to be the frame work for the future of CNP and HSC. The Haiti Connection convention is a gathering of organizations that are involved all over the country and was kicked off with a great speech from Ophelia, Paul Farmers long time colleague and friend who is currently the Executive Director of Partners in Health. The following days were a mix of meetings with potential partnering organizations and networking among friends with a common goal; to end the viscous cycle of poverty in Haiti. Among many positive things that came out of these meetings, most importantly, the HSC board met and to the excitement to many, a governing board was elected and everyone on the board agreed to and signed into action a set of bylaws by which they will function. This is very exciting news and we hope and pray this is a giant step in the direction of resurrecting HSC!! Thanks for all the prayers...

At the conclusion of this week Kara and I had to say goodbye to a set of friends, but welcomed in another...

Thomas, Drew, Jonathan, Ann (Kara's mom),  and Lynn (Kara's aunt) arrived in Haiti on Thursday staying that initial night in PAP and then heading out to Leogane for the remainder of their visit. Kara and I were thrilled to be surrounded by friends and family and were grateful for the sacrifices made from everyone  in order to come see us! Their time here was fast but was a great taste of Haiti... from tours of the hospital, shopping in the market, hikes in the mountains, a day at the beach, visiting a LWI well site, sausages on a stick among other Haitian cuisines, and of course salsa dancing of which everyone participated!! It was a great trip and Kara and I hated to see everyone go, but look forward to seeing some of the same faces again in the spring.

On a side note, I wanted to briefly touch on Guerline and let everyone know that has been praying...

She is alive and well!! While Thomas, Drew, and Jonathan were here we took Saturday morning and traveled to check up on Guerline and here family!! It is always an adventure in Haiti when you head to the mountains, but I would love for some of your guys to pick those boys brains about the roads, the mountains, four low, and most importantly the emotions from their encounter with Guerline's family. 

Briefly... when we rounded the corner to their home Guerline's mother was the first to see us and she began screaming out in Creole, "my people are here, my people are here!!" She ran over to the house and scooped up Guerline to bring her to us as we approached from the other direction. She was still healthy although riding the fine border of malnutrition, but thankfully still leaps and bounds better than the first day we found her!! While we were there we gave her another weeks worth of plumpy nut and also delivered seed to her father who we hoped could plant in the community fields and provide nutrition to his family and others. Before we left Guerline's mother made another comment in Creole that was powerful and I was glad my friends were there to witness not only the impact but also the necessity of CNP and our programs. She left us saying, "You are all Guerline's father and I want to thank you for that..."

Thanks, as always, for the continued encouragement... I am sorry if I ever sound redundant in my gratitude, but knowing that someone is praying for you has taken a whole knew meaning during my time here...


PS. Out of time... I will post a picture soon!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm Back

wow... sorry for my absence!!

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who I saw and all of those who contributed in every little way to a great visit back home! It was flawless and much needed! BIG THANKS

As far as reintroduction... the minute I stepped foot off of AA flight 803 I was greeted with a pleasant surprise. The heat wave that Haiti is famous for throughout the summer had seemed to have cooled off a bit. It is amazing how thankful you can be for the lower 90's when all you've known is the 100 +'s for so long... it made the transition that much more manageable. 

I say manageable for this very reason... 

Although you know the poverty stricken elements and graphic images that you will be exposed, I don't think after time away it will ever be easy to transition back, and I am thankful for this. I think if I ever reach a point where what I see and witness doesn't pull my heart strings, something is wrong, and something needs to be done. The hurt is great and the hurt is BIG!! One image in particular stirred my emotions to the brink of tears... I saw a child... and this child was partially clothed in what was nothing more than a tattered t-shirt. This child was obviously hungry and was walking bare footed over a large pile of trash. These piles of trash are abundant in Haiti and I am sure that I have mentioned them before; the odor they produce is practically unbearable. I watched this child plop himself down in the middle of this trash heap and begin digging through the surrounding trash in hopes of finding something to satisfy the hunger pains. As I watched, I saw him find something that had absolutely no resemblance of anything edible and he began to pry at it with his teeth... thankfully we were driving and I didn't witness this long because I think I would have lost it completely... 

I know it is important to witness graphic images such as these, because these images are the driving force behind what we do... like I said before, there is a great hurt and the hurt is BIG!!!

All in all, life back is good... good for the soul! Of course, it is challenging and believe me I still need all of the prayers I can get, but it is good. I want to let everyone know that we hope to have our own Internet soon and I hope to be much better in communicating with everyone about my time spent here. For all of you that have prayed for Guerline... Thank You!! I plan to see her soon because once again she hasn't reported back with her mother in the time that I was away. I hope and pray I find her well and I will report back to all of you as soon as I can.

M' pral pale ou tale...



Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Hey guys, thanks again for your patience!! 

Please continue to pray...

Leogane has been fortunate in all of this, but the north island of Haiti is in utter turmoil. They need your prayers and they need the rain to stop. I have heard that Haiti has been on the television a lot in the states and it has been nice to have updates from everyone because my access, as you all know, to the internet is not frequent. Therefore, most of you guys at home probably know more about the situation then I do.

As for Leogane and what I do know, the city is beginning to dry out and most of the roads are passable. Everyday since yesterday has seemed to gone on as normal. Businesses have been open and people have been strolling the streets as if the worst has past and we all hope that is true!! It has been nice to see the blue skies and to actually be reminded how hot it gets here in the direct sunlight again!! I think I even got a little sun burned today... that is the Haiti I know!!

As far as the programs and our ability to do work...

We have been slowed a little and most of the mothers in our programs have been limited in the transportation methods because of the high levels of water. As we see them subside we have seen more mothers bringing in their children in the past few days. Right now Kara and I are just trying to figure out where we can help. With all of the unclean water running around we are still waiting to see how we can use our resources here to help the people of Leogane. We know that there are many without water and we hope to help them really soon with some of our solution from our water program. So, things have definitely been slow but fortunately I have had to continue to enter the information from the survey we conducted in July to occupy my time. Thanks, as always, for the continued support and I look forward to seeing most of you really soon!! I hope to have more updates soon...

ps. above is a picture of the recent floods in Leogane, if you couldn't tell...haha!!
pss. ok, this is the main road next to the hospital, about 3.5 to 4 feet of water in places...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


To all those that have been praying for us, Thank You...

Gustav was tangled in the mountains before it reached us, therefore, the winds had dwindled to gusts of 40+ mph. On the other hand, the rain has been unrelenting and I can only begin to imagine the damage He has left in his wake. 

Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti...with no waste management or sanitation services you can only imagine what rising water levels must mean!! Please pray for manageable sized epidemics, or better yet, none at all!!

Briefly, on our ride over in the landcruiser I witnessed what you would only imagine seeing in a magazine or the movies. The roads, or what use to be roads, where all rushing rivers!! For those of you that have visited Leogane, all the roads running from the main highway into the city have transformed into funnels for the outpouring of water from the mountains. In some places the water levels exceeded 4 feet!! We have heard from CNP staff in Darbonne that the water levels could be higher and they are experience some difficulties. All in all, the CNP staff, that we know, is safe and sound. But, I have a feeling that the work is just about to begin. 

I didn't have an opportunity on the way over to capture any photos, therefore, I leave you with one of my favorite areas of Leogane (the banks of the Grand Rivye). Thanks again for all your prayers and I will do my best, as always, to keep everyone posted!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Sorry and thanks for your patience...

The Internet situation down here has not gotten any better, in fact, it may be a little worse!! Hopefully some ideas are on the table and they will come to fruition soon!!

As far as what has been going on, there is a a lot!!! I will try to summarize the week with the mobile clinic from Chattanooga and a update of Guerline...

The team arrived two weeks ago from today and let me tell you, it was so good to see some familiar faces and hug the necks of those that have supported me so faithfully!! It wasn't a homemade apple pie, but they brought a little bit of home with them and I sapped it up like a biscuit does with gravy!!

All in all the week was a huge success! The Hospital here is going through some trying times and in order to support them here we began the week hosting a clinic for the city of Leogane right there at St. Croix. The turn out was impressive and actually we had to limit our services to, i believe, 260 patients. The setup was quite comfortable and as always the dental team, Deb Watlington and Alan Crisman, were inspiring!! For those of you that have participated in a mobile clinic you know how hard the dental team always works, and for those of you that haven't I am not doing it justice by briefly describing their efforts. But, let me tell you, at the end of everyday they are the last ones to finish working whether that is because of the lack of lighting, the approaching thunderstorm (which many times they work right through the rain), or because they successfully treated every patient. They are the last ones standing and deserve every bit of recognition for their valiant work!! 

The rest of the week was filled with a lot of hope and a lot of heartache, as most clinics are, but as Mitch always reminds everyone "you can only do as much as you can do and you have to let yourself be OK with what hope you gave." If you focus your thoughts and efforts on the negatives, which it is so easy to do in Haiti because you are surrounded by them, it's easy to lose sight of all the help you gave. I think that it is safe to say that most individuals when they leave Haiti after a clinic week feel pretty beat up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The weather and other elements takes its' toll on the body and then the situation of the Haitian people and the images you see seem to ring your heart out dry. But there again, when all is said and done you must dwell on the fact that without your work think of where the Haitian people would be and with strength from above you press on seeking to give HOPE!!

It truly was a great week, and of course, it was filled with what Haiti always offers: salsa dancing (Deb stole the show one night), french fries and beer, roads that never seem to be remotely passable but somehow you do, walks through riverbeds, tropical fruit and a wonderful week of Haitian cuisine, sunsets that will leave you feeling enchanted, and most importantly humbly spending time with your Haitian brothers and sisters in their world and at their level. All these things are truly a blessing!!

Thanks to ALL that participated and I look forward to the next time we can serve together!!

As for my girl, Guerline, her story is truly amazing and the book gets better with each passing page. I know I mentioned to some of you that I was heading back to the mountains if we didn't see her and/or her mother back at the hospital after her supplies of medicine had been depleted. Of course, they didn't come because they have no money and couldn't afford the transportation to the hospital, therefore, myself, Louis, and Guesly took to the mountains to take her more medicine and to check her progression as her body continues to re cooperate from the lack of nutrients that she went for so long without. 

Once again, there are not enough words to describe to everyone the feeling you get when you round the corner to her house and in that instant that she sees you her eyes light up like the brightest stars in the sky. Her smile was larger than I had ever seen and her embrace was worth any 2 hour hike ten times over!! It is amazing to witness a miracle with your own eyes!! I feel blessed beyond imagination and can only hope that everyone grasps, if only a smidgen, these emotions I am attempting to describe...

We spent an hour at her house playing and feeding her and taking necessary measurements for our records to track her continued progression. She sat in my lap, unfortunately I don't have these specific pictures, and I fed her her medicine. The picture above is right before she crawled up into my lap. Although I still don't speak the language great, the gratitude could be seen from miles away on the mother and fathers face!! Honestly, right now, I am at a loss of words and I know I will never completely describe my emotions of this experience. All I know is I am extremely blessed and thank the good Lord for showering my life with experiences such as these...they are truly life changing.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Safe Water

I know that I have mentioned to most of you being involved in CNP's launching of their safe water program, and with the help of CDC and other programs it officially launched a couple of months ago. As of now we are still learning and developing ideas, but currently our Monitrices from the nutritional program are being supplied with special buckets and a diluted chlorine solution called "gadyen dlo" to sell at a subsidized cost to families in their villages. Of course, in order to control quality of the water and to make sure the solution is being used properly we are training our Monitrices first at our monthly meetings, therein, allowing them to host training classes in their respective villages before anyone can purchase the bucket, top, and solution package.

The two full time employees of CNP that are working with the water program are Evans and Albert (who is in the picture above). Just after I arrived in Leogane, Evans took off for vacation so I have spent most of my time working with Albert. We have been going out approximately 2 times a week to supervise these class/meetings the Monitrices host in their villages in order to educate and answer any questions the locals may have. These meetings are a treat for me. Not only do I get to practice hearing/learning Kreyol from the locals during the meetings, I also get to hear personal stories, threw a translator, about how excited/thankful they are about this program and how the water in the past has made them or their children really sick. 

These meetings are sometimes held in churches and before each meeting they like to sing a hymn and pray before they begin. These times are extremely peaceful for me and although I can't understand the words of the hymn I sometimes recognize the tune and hum along. To be in these mountain villages among these mountain people singing/humming hymns and praying is very invigorating!! 

Usually the meetings last about an hour or so and without fail, no matter their living situation, they always offer some sort of "gift" before we begin our descent of the mountain. On this particular day they sent a child of the village up into the coconut trees to knock down several for us to drink. I have never had fresh coconut juice from the fruit before so it was truly a treat for me to have my first experience with my Haitian brothers and sisters!!

The preparation of the coconut fruit is quite a talent and I was mesmerized by the hatchet skills of the elder of the village who prepared the coconuts to drink. From an outsiders perspective it looked as though he swung aimlessly at these nuts sending the shell, like shrapnel, flying left and right, sometimes catching you in the face!! But it never failed, when he set his hatchet aside and rose to hand you the coconut there was a perfect size drinking whole ready for you to turn it up...and turn it up we did!!

As always I am humbled by the generous spirit of the Haitian people... 

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


For those of you that didn't know, the Internet at the hospital has been out for over a week and I do apologize for the delay. With that said so much has happened that once again it is going to be impossible to catch everyone up on everything.

I have told some of you through email and maybe a phone conversation or two about the little girl I found in the mountains. It was in the middle of the survey and because of strict protocol in selecting houses it was a miracle that we stumbled upon sweet little Guerline. All the guys from the team were exhausted and were reluctant to stick to the protocol because of the distances you tend to travel in the mountains between houses. We climbed up and down the hillsides and threw the river beds until we reached this structure, Guerline's home, that looked as if one swift wind could send it to the ocean.

Guerline was inside the house and we didn't actually get a look at her until the mother had begun the survey answering basic questions about their location and home. I wondered over to the door of the house and peered in to find little Guerline there lifeless on a piece of cloth as her bed. It had to have been close to 90 degrees inside the house and she looked as if her lips hadn't felt the cool touch of water in days. She was lifeless and struggled to even maneuver her eyes to see who this stranger was in her house!! Of course, I immediately knew that we would be taking her with us to the hospital in the morning to begin protocol to hopefully bring her back to life.

When we found Guerline she was a little over a year and a half old but weighed less than some newborn babies in the states. At a little over 8 pounds there was hardly anything to her but skin and bones. Needless to say, it broke my heart!! The mother of Guerline new that she was sick but didn't have the money or means to seek help. Like I said before, it was a miracle that we found sweet little Guerline that day.

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of her state when she was first brought into the hospital, but, honestly, I would want to spare most of you guys the heartache!! Thankfully the best thing about my story is the ending. 

The following morning after we had discussed logistics with the mother and father that we would pay for transportation, treatment, and etc. They pack their belongings put on their nicest clothes and carried Guerline 3 hours over three mountains to rendezvous with our driver where we hand another hour and a half drive back to the hospital. 

We just sent Guerline and her mother back home last week because she has made so much progress!! The mother is suppose to return to the hospital tomorrow to pick up more food, but if we see nothing of her by Friday I am headed back up to take supplies!! I think it is safe to say the Guerline stole my heart and I already told Kara, the program manager, that if her parents don't live through the time I spend here I am bringing here home...haha!!

The more she ate the more her personality began to reveal itself!! Everyday for about 10 days we would check on her progress multiple times a day and saw with our own eyes her growth and what was basically a "rebirth" of a beautiful Haitian girl full of personality and life!! The last day she held my fingers in the palms of here little hands and wanted to walk all over the hospital room laughing and smiling from ear to ear!! It was incredible...there is really no other way to describe it!!

Thanks for the prayers and be encouraged...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Burn So Good

With the survey coming to an end and Evan, one of the interns for the survey, leaving on Tuesday of this week a group of friends decided to celebrate by taking a day trip to Jacmel. For those of you that don't know, Jacmel is only 40 kilometers away from Leogane but you have to cross some of the highest mountains in Haiti. The road is quite curvy and reminds me of that piece of spaghetti that gets tangled around your fork!! On top of that, because of Haiti's enormous deforestation problem landslides are a constant problem, and the roads in the mountains are usually the first to go. Fortunately, rain has been absent this past week and there wasn't a whole lot of eroding road obstacles, but the back of a landcruiser is not the most desired place to be while traveling this highway!! 

Thankfully the anticipation of a day at the beach kept every one's bad attitudes aside while Jean Claude, our driver, gracefully maneuvered the landcruiser twisting and turning sometimes snapping our necks side to side like a rag doll. We knew that once we were on the beach and sipping a cold glass of Haitian punch "every little thing was gonna be alright", you know, like Bob Marley!! And it was...

The day was great!! We enjoyed a leisurely Haitian lunch, and I mean leisurely. The Haitians don't move at the speed of light let me tell you, but fortunately the rhum was a little quicker than the food. We ate a little of everything from conch (lambi in creole) to polenta and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!! But rushed from lunch quickly to the beach...

We drove a little further east to find a cozy little beach that Kara had visited once and before Jean Claude had a chance to park the car everyone had plunged into the cool Caribbean sea tackling the waves like kids, well at least I did!! It was awesome. We threw the football, laid around a little bit, had a round of prestige and did it all over again for the rest of the afternoon. I am not going to lie, I had been dreaming about my body being submerged in water from the moment I stepped off the plane and the heat smacked me upside my head. Once again, it was awesome!!

Of course, the sun took it out of everyone and as the day came to an end the realization of the ride back home was looming. Thankfully the sun wore me out so much that I slept the second half of the hour and a half ride home! You would think that a day like this would end there from exhaustion, but Saturday night is salsa night!! 

So we showered and headed out... 

Friday, July 18, 2008

More Rice Please

After 2 hours in the car, trekking across some rather rugged terrain in the mountains just to the south of Leogane, we set foot on the trail to Bouca Lion. We set out at 9am where we had to hike 3 hours through several communities to reach the children for the day. The hike was beautiful!! In the ride leading up to the hike we had climbed ridge after ridge until we were at what had to be close to the highest point in Haiti. Therefore, needless to say, our journey began by descending rather steeply into a valley filled with corn fields and farmers tilling their land. It was wonderful break from the life of the city. The air was cleaner the people seemed to be a little friendlier and best of all the temperature was below triple digits!! 

Up and down, up and down we climbed ridge after ridge, and it was then and there I realized how appropriate the Haitian saying and famous book title "beyond the mountains, there are more mountains" or "mountains beyond mountains!" 

We arrived at Bouca Lion and went directly to our resting place for that evening. We rested in the shade of avocado and mango trees while picking kernels from the grilled corn ("Haitian Style") attempting to refuel from our journey. It would have been easy to drift to sleep in the shade. It felt sooo good to take a load off and relish in that cool breeze sweeping from atop the mountains gently brushing our cheeks. Unfortunately, we knew if we didn't get to work it meant more work for us tomorrow.

We embarked on our search for children, which, as I explained in a previous post this search is completely random and beyond our control. Therefore, sometimes this process can be completed rather quickly while other times drag like that last day of school. Fortunately for us God smiled upon us and granted a rather easy day. We found all children rather quickly and didn't have to venture to far from our home base, but we did make our way to the riverbed where we found children playing in the water, women washing clothes, others bathing, and a few men digging irrigation trenches with handcrafted hoes and pick axes. It was quite the sight!! At that moment it made me think about the rest of the world and what everybody else was doing? I find it amazing how experiences trigger thoughts...and how sometimes the thoughts aren't that relative to the experience...

I thought of all the women and children around the world that were washing clothes in a river and the farmers and how hard they work to was surreal.

We finished the survey around 4 o'clock and climbed out of the riverbed where the women of the house we were staying for the night had prepared a feast! In the time that I shed my pack and took a seat in the hand woven chair there was a plate in my lap with fried plantains, grilled chicken leg, avocado slices, tomatoes, and peklis (my favorite!!). Peklis (not sure how to spell it) is a spicy vinegar based "coleslaw" that blends so well with all other Haitian flavors. I don't think I have had a meal yet where peklis wasn't served along side. 

After dinner, oh yeah I forgot, of course we had rice and beans too, we played Haitian card games and sat around attempting to communicate and listening to the sounds of the mountains. I ventured off by myself to go to the bathroom and stood in the light of the moon gazing in amazement of the number of stars!! It was beautiful. The nights in Haiti end rather early, the sun sets around 6:30 and most people are in bed by 8 or 9 at the latest, especially in the mountains. There is no real entertainment other than what you provide yourself and plus most people are farmers and are up with the sun at 5am. Therefore, we decided to hit it around 9ish cause we knew the hike we had if front of us and plus we hoped to beat the unforgiving heat of the midday sun.  

In the picture above you see the house and all those that are shown, plus me, slept here!! For those that can't count, all 10 of us slept in what couldn't have been more than 250 square feet!! I can't say that I got a whole lot of sleep but I will never forget the experience. You know you always read stories or hear stories about living situation such as these but most never get the chance to experience it. I will say it again, "it is mind boggling how these people live!!!" They honestly know no other way...truly amazing!! 

I was humbled by the whole experience and the generosity shared! Sorry this post got a bit wordy but I hope that you can take a little bit away from my experience. I prayed that night while lying restlessly in bed that the good Lord would never let me forget this, and that it would change me forever!! There are so many "simple" things I take for granted and I never want to complain about them again. I will always remember my Haitian brothers and sisters in the mountains...

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Hey guys, the Haitian government decided to grace us with a little power this Sunday afternoon and I thought that I would pass around my phone number here in Haiti for those of you that have a little time on your hands and have nothing else to do.


Dial it as is and it should work just fine!! If you don't have international calling you can get calling cards online that make it pretty cheap. I know this is a little work but I would love to talk to you guys if you have the time. There will be more to come soon about my stay in the mountains this past week!!

Stay Tuned!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


As far as work and what fills my days...

We are in the middle of our first health survey of Leogane and it's surrounding villages. Our main focus is the nutritional condition of the children between ages 6 months to 3 years and their mother's accessibility to health care and clean water. We hope from this survey we can see what progress the hearth program has made over the past years and what areas we can improve. Moreover, we hope to find other arenas where we can continue to help the families of Leogane.

We have a staff of 9 Haitian translators that we spent 3 days training on how to select random houses and to follow the protocol of a "cluster" survey. I am not very experienced or better yet have very little knowledge of epidemiology, but during the training I grasped enough knowledge to understand the importance of following a strict protocol. In order to survey a smaller quantity of children but obtain an accurate representation of the entire city there must be special attention given to the "randomness" of the houses/children we choose. We also spent time training on how to weigh, measure, and accurately determine the health of the children we survey. At the end of the training the Haitians were divided into 3 groups and 1 American was placed with each group making 3 groups of four.

We randomly selected 33 communities/villages that each day a different team will go to implement the survey until all are complete. If everything goes according to plan we will complete the entire survey in two weeks spending only one night sleeping in the mountains per team.

Today we completed the fourth day of the survey with the long hike and the overnight stay in the mountains on the horizon, that being tomorrow!! I am looking forward to heading up to my village because it is very close to a village that I visited in January and the hike up the riverbed was breathtaking. I hope to take pictures and look forward to reporting back on all the intricate details from the eating to sleeping to sharing times around the fire with the locals.

All in all the survey is going extremely well and with each day that passes teams are getting equally efficient at completing the daily tasks. Although the sun is hot and sometimes the breeze is insufficient we continue to climb up and down the mountains with a great attitude knowing that we are playing a big part in the future for the families of Leogane. Thank you for your prayers!!

One side note, I took my first mototaxi to the beach the other day with a friend of mine I met here, Brittany, to spend Sunday afternoon. We had hoped to read and relax but as always in Haiti as soon as a "blan" is spotted you can't hide!! You know the feeling you get when you feel like you are being watched...well, we were laying on our towels talking and reading and even attempting to polish up on what little Creole we know when I mentioned this feeling. At that moment I arose to see the most beautiful children in the world standing, some with their hands crossed behind their back as if they were patiently waiting their turn to ask us a question. Of course we failed miserably at what attempts we made to communicate, but we spent the rest of the afternoon teaching the children how to throw the Frisbee and of course they had a soccer ball to kick around as well. It was a great afternoon!! The children actually waded a short ways out into the surf to bring back some clams to give to us. I am still unsure what they wanted us to do with them but they insisted that we have them. Although we were looking for a relaxing afternoon these kinds of memories are everything and more than you could possibly want to take away!! I am falling more in love with these children each passing day...

Steven and Koral. I must find Winsky (sp?) and Johnny Lu!!!

Love to everyone!!! 

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Falling Mangos

I had plan to have more time for this post than I currently have, therefore, I apologize in advance if I don't go into all the details of my first week. First of all, thanks to all for comments and encouragement and for those of you that continue to want to know more of my involvement and my "on goings" in Haiti. I am very fortunate to have such great friends to support me and my journey here.
The smells of the burning trash quickly swept into and around the grounds of the hospital instantly bringing back those nostalgic thoughts when I arrived. We are fortunate at the hospital to have one rather large mango tree that drops it's fruit, without warning, like rain from the sky. The fruit is great for the employees of the hospital and a day doesn't past when someone is slurping the fruit from the skin while resting in the shade. The problem for us "blan" (literally means white, but is how Haitians refer to foreigners) is that we, or at least I, haven't acquired an ear for the snapping of the mango before gravity brings it quickly to the ground landing in a splat/thud. Therefore, the problem lies in the fact that one of these days I am gonna be knocked out from a falling mango if I don't learn quickly to hear the "sound". I have been fortunate thus far that the closes case of a falling mango has only been arms length and not on my head, and for those of you that aren't familiar with the fruit, a ripe mango can way 2 to 3 pounds and most of the time will fall from distances in the upwards of 40 feet!! Believe me, you don't want to get hit.
Life outside the hospital, unfortunately, is much the same as I remember it. Most days begin when the sun rises at approximately 5 am and continues, for those of us at the compound, until the bar closes across the street from the hospital. Island music fills the air every night and the streets are crowded with few cars, several motorcycles, and lots of people. Those that can afford it are sipping rhum and beer while others just seem to be catching up on the events of each others day. Some Haitians work the evening hours roaming the streets selling anything they can get their hands on. From bags of water to belts they hover the streets intruding on conversations and socialization trying to earn some money, which I am sure they need to feed their families and themselves. 
I ran into two particular ladies whom which you see in the picture above that were selling grilled corn. They were the sweetest ladies and it was then in that moment that I wished I knew their language more fluently, but I mustered enough Creole to ask them if I could take a picture and they kindly suggested it would be fine. Afterwards I showed them the picture and they laughed hysterically and found themselves almost hypnotized as they took the camera from my hands and stared for a few minutes. My thoughts quickly ventured to what their living situation must be like and how, if no one buys any corn that day what would they do for money? This roaming of the mind is a frequent occurrence for me as I wonder the streets of Leogane: 
I can't believe people really live like this? What are they eating? What is that smell? I can't believe the amounts of trash everywhere? 
It stems from there and roams wildly into more detailed thoughts of their life, just like our lives, and what they consist of daily. The obstacles they face daily that are as simple as clean water from which to take a drink or wash their face. It will send your thoughts spiraling into a corner of your mind that you don't frequent and you find yourself hurting for them. It is hard for me, but for the people here it is all they know. They are strong and somehow they keep hope close by. It is truly amazing!!
Of course, I want to include more personal experiences but they tend to get a bit wordy and with my novice writing skills I tend to not stay on track. I appreciate the patience's and I hope to have more soon.

Na we toutale m' fanmi ak bon zanmi!!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hit The Ground

This post is mainly to get the ball rolling and make sure I know what I am doing? For those of you that don't know I arrived this past wednesday and safely made the voyage from Port Au Prince to Leogane. I want to thank all of you that have been praying and supporting me during my decision making process. Now that I have hit the ground I will need your continued prayers. Once I stepped foot off the plane, and especially from the ride through the streets of Port Au Prince, all the emotions came roaring back. One image in particular stands in front of my memory, there was a man with one leg in the middle of a busy street with his crutches upside down. He was using pieces of wire and scrap metal to fix them as cars honk their horns and came within inches of taking his other leg. This is the calloused nature of the Haitian people, to stand in the middle of a highway with no concern for their life. I wish I could have snapped a picture of the man's face. He was completely uninterested in preserving his own life. Unfortunately, it is their reality. Please pray for the Haitian people to have HOPE. Be looking for a post real soon updating my first week here. Thanks again!!