By Julie Megler
Central Plateau, HAITI–Today we split into two groups, half of us continued with another round of house visits and half visited one of the local schools. The house visits began with another rally post. We stood in thatched roofed structure with five or six rows of benches facing a 10 by 15 foot stage. Today’s rally post focused on education.
Before Gaby began translating from English to Creole, the group sang an old song and then led a prayer. We then taught the mothers and children about breastfeeding and treating dehydration. Following the rally post we began our walk along the dirt road stopping at houses along the way. The community leader we traveled with had already been through this village recently, so today’s visits were focused on revisiting the households he knew had ill members.
One house that stuck out in particular was set up on top of a hillside overlooking the nearby mountain range and river valley. We were dumbfounded that so much hunger and struggle could occur in such a serene location. A young boy obviously with some form of congenital deformity, was having difficulty gaining weight. His nostrils were flaring as he struggled for breaths, his legs nothing but skin and bone with his belly protruding.
We paid our respects to an 82-year-old man laying in bed, staring off in the distance as he took what would be his remaining breaths. His grandsons were finishing the construction of the family tomb in the front yard. Somehow it was settling to see the whole family surrounding the man, embracing his life cycle, something so unfamiliar to the way we handle death back in the U.S.