Sunday, March 21, 2010
So what else is new?
Louverture Cleary people are doing some really amazing things out there right now, while the rest of us are holding down the fort with the kids at school.
Patrick Moynihan and Corey (one of the precocious 22 year olds around here) have been working with Catholic Relief Services and a few other agencies to open an 80 bed rehab clinic for earthquake related surgical patients. In the first days after the earthquake, there were so many amputations and some pretty incredible surgeries that happened at so many different facilities, with so many different visiting medical teams. But then those patients all went home, or to tent cities, and now the calf muscle brilliantly grafted to some other part of the leg is atrophying, and the incision sites are getting infected. So, this rehab clinic will coordinate the post surgical medical care, as well as social welfare (including helping to secure housing.) It’s an amazing project that many LCS graduates will have important roles in – as doctors, translators, drivers, and social workers. Corey and Patrick have been running all over town for weeks to make this happen, and the first post surgery patient transfers happened this week. The clinic should serve more than 500 patients in the next six months.
People have donated so much money to our relief fund, and the work of helping our staff and neighbors rebuild is in full swing. LCS staff have fixed pieces of several houses,, making them inhabitable again, and are almost done with a completely new home construction for a neighbor whose mud house was totally destroyed. Meghan, another volunteer, is the finance manager for these relief funds, and has taken responsibility for keeping track of spending, and paying our team of laborers from the neighborhood every week. In the meantime, she’s learning how to build houses, which is also pretty cool since she’s planning to study architecture in the near future.
And since the earthquake, we’ve stepped up our work with some of the neighborhood children in desperate need of supervision and care during the day. In the fall, we had our afternoon lunch and play time for 40 – 50 kids, but we realized that this wasn’t nearly enough for some. A few weeks after the earthquake, we realized that a few kids were missing. Sadly, two parents in the neighborhood had decided that they simply couldn’t care for their children anymore and had given them away to an “orphanage.” Imagine the desperation that prompts a parent to do that … It took several days of asking questions and searching to find the children, and as we feared, they were in a totally unregulated and unsanitary situation. It seems that people were basically collecting children, then soliciting money from foreigners to help renovate their “orphanage.” One can only imagine what they planned on doing with the children they had collected. In this whole ordeal, I met the absolute shadiest human being I have ever met, a man who would not tell us where the kids were, and refused to let anyone – even their mother – go to see them. Scary. Anyway, after a few days Christina Moynihan and a few of the drivers and security guys managed to literally rescue 5 children from this so-called orphanage. Unfortunately, their parents were still unwilling / unable to fully care for them, so we basically started a full day childcare program at school. Now Kristen, the volunteer with the elementary ed background, and three of the Haitian staff are teaching and caring for about 10 of the youngest neighborhood kids most in need of care during the day. Then they go home and stay with their families at night. It’s been amazing to see the transformation in some of these kids. They were sick and scared and only wanted to be held a few weeks ago, now they’re running around throwing balls at mango trees with the older kids trying to score a juicy snack.
We’re still not “officially” having school, though we never really stopped having school either. With almost three hundred kids and most of the teachers back, this place is starting to feel more and more normal, which is of course, a good thing for everyone. But for me a weird consequence of all that routine, is that I’m getting kind of bored. I’m back to teaching Spanish, and still overseeing – though not continually retooling – the academic schedule, and supervising cleanup and study, and teaching some kids Italian, and playing with the little neighborhood kids … all the things I was doing last fall. I found myself getting bored this week, and to be honest, a little jealous of the people who are out there working on the more exciting things. I knew that the adrenaline of the earthquake and its immediate aftermath would die off sooner or later as the work became less heroic and more routine, and that then the real work would begin. Well, here we are. I just keep telling myself that it’s my role now, to just help keep things running smoothly here so that other people can get out there and rebuild Haiti.