By Jamie Sodikoff
After giving out hygiene packs of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap to the charming and gracious kids of the Thomonde public school, we packed into the van and headed to Marmont. Although somewhat acclimated, at this point, to riding on the rough, stone-laden roads of rural Haiti, I couldn’t help but hold my breath as we approached a slippery, muddy patch of road that smelled of trouble (and manure). Franc, our skilled driver, jammed on the gas, hoping the momentum would get us past the ditch. His skilled maneuvering, however, was to no avail, and we were stuck. Determined not to be a collective stick in the mud, our group banded together and used our combined strength and wit to push the car out and continue on.
We arrived mid-morning in Marmont and began visiting homes to get an idea of the day-to-day lives of the people we will be seeing in clinic, to talk to families about what obstacles they face (health and otherwise), and to see their living environments. We met one family who had taken into their home two small boys who were recently orphaned when their mother died during childbirth. This same family relayed to us that they had lost two of their own children at infancy to asthma. Asthma, such a treatable illness and so heartbreaking to hear that it had cost two young lives.
Many of the homes we visited housed one mattress for the whole family, causing us to wonder how everyone could fit. The answer was that they didn’t; many slept on the floor. Each family welcomed us with open arms and generously responded to our many inquiries. It was a great day and a great learning experience overall to gain a window into the lives of the people who live here. I’m so grateful to be here and excited to start clinics tomorrow!
Jamie Sodikoff is a medical intern student at Emory University School of Medicine