By Maureen Collins, MPH
Happy St. Josef’s Day! Today we were able to tune down what our typical day has looked like thus far. The town celebrated its 80th anniversary of St. Josef, the main church here in Thomonde. The group split up and either got dressed up to attend mass at St. Josef — or to stay at the Project Medishare compound and take a breather from activities. Those who went to mass said that it was packed with enthusiastic people from Thomonde. There was standing room only and very little room to breathe, but a great experience nonetheless! The laggards (myself included) stayed here and took the extra hours given to us to take a nap, re-hydrate, do homework, or read. After yesterday’s rainfall, one would think that our night’s sleep would have been restful….but thanks to the commencement ceremony last night for the holiday, many of us didn’t get to sleep until 2 a.m., resting our eyes while listening to boisterous Haitian music from the town centre. At one point in time, my roommate, Camille, said she heard two DJs battling out on the microphone.
Many of us went into town to look at and purchase crafts from some of the local artists. The scenes depicted ranged from neutral blue tones along the waterfront – to bright and tropical colors of women gathering together to dance. The prices that were paid for the artwork also ranged quite widely! Hopefully if you’re a relative of someone on the trip and reading this, you’ll benefit from the fruits of our labor today. After gathering back at the Project Medishare homestead, we got into three SUVs to accompany one of two community supervisors who go out and do home visits to families in the outskirts of Marmont, a town located next to Thomonde.
Again we split into two different groups, but it sounds like both experienced the same amount of sadness and happiness with their encounters. The homes that my group saw were skeletal and most sat on a family compound which housed one large nuclear family. For the most part, the older members of the family were left taking care of the youngest children, and many grandparents played babysitter to many of the local children. We visited over a dozen homes, some by foot and some by car, shadowing the community health supervisor as he made sure that each family’s children had their vaccinations and annual vitamin supplements. One man we visited was sitting on a chair reading the Bible, and took off his glasses and exclaimed “God Bless you!” and threw his hands up and around us. His children, like many of the other children here, swarmed around our group, first shy and then curious. Some of us took note of one family’s water sanitation in that the two older children who were looking after their younger family members were letting birds play in their main source of drinking water. I told the group that I had a new hypothesis of the origin for the Avian Bird Flu. It started to rain again and the drivers suggested we leave immediately as to avoid running into mudslides. We agreed, and piled back into the cars to leave the families. On our way back, we were able to stop at the Project Medishare Clinic of Marmont and Project Medishare of Thomonde to look at their facilities. We were impressed by how clean and organized each of the clinics were. At Project Medishare in Thomonde, we were able to stop in and visit our 20-year old patient from yesterday who we rushed to the hospital when we realized the condition of her congenital heart failure. It was amazing to see that she had lost almost 15 pounds of fluid from her legs and that her three month old baby was being cared for already by the staff at Project Medishare in Thomonde. Although the outlook for her condition is teetering on death or life, she was pleased to see that we were thinking of her, and we said our goodbyes with big smiles and wishes for her future. It’s time to join the rest of the group to play cards and enjoy a beer as we toast to Donnois’ birthday. Good night!