After ten years of hearing that it was going to be fixed, we were thrilled a few months ago to see the beginning of construction on the road up to our clinic in Gatineau. Parts of it are being paved, and the rest is being graded with drainage ditches being built to handle the heavy run-off from rains that normally ruin roads up in the mountains. Or so they said! As is often the case here in Haiti, after about a quarter of the work was finished, word had it that the money had been used up and everything came to a standstill. We’ll leave it up to you to figure out where the money went! We’re still hoping that work will resume and that one of these days, the 15 mile trip up the mountain will take only 30 minutes, instead of more than an hour. Stay tuned!
One of the side benefits of the road construction is that we were able to get the heavy equipment operators to make a new entry onto our site, widening the entry road so that we can eventually put up an entry gate and retaining walls along the road. Here are some photos of the work in progress:
Road grader making new entry road onto our clinic site
New entry road on the right with previous road on the left. The roads not meet and go down the bridge.
Large area where both entry roads meet, looking back towards the main road. This is where the new entry gate will be built eventually.
BEWARE THE LIST!
I don’t know how other physicians feel, but whenever I see a patient sit in front of me with a list of their complaints, I groan inside. It means that we’re going to be talking for a while and I need to make sure I respond to every one of the issues they present. The patient has obviously taken time and effort to compile this list and wants to be sure that every one of their concerns is addressed. It’s all very understandable but seeing the list automatically evokes negative emotions in me. I think it’s because the list takes away the spontaneity of our conversation and, rather than being able to control the conversation, I’m controlled by the list! I have to say that it is one of the refreshing things about working in Haiti; most of our patients are illiterate, so there are no lists! Or, so I thought. You can imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when one of my patients held in his hand a LIST! Only, this wasn’t any ordinary list. The patient is a tailor and repairs upholstery on chairs and motorcycle seats. So, his list was actually written on a piece of plastic upholstery material! I had to laugh and, of course, I took a photo of him and his list. It was especially funny to me because he’s a long-term patient who we know very well. I guess this time, he had so many things wrong, he wanted to be sure he didn’t miss telling me about them all!
Patient holding his list, written on upholstery material
MAKING SOMETHING POSITIVE COME FROM A DISASTER
We are privileged to have a partnership, of sorts, with Christian Aid Ministries (CAM), which is a mission organization located just north of Port-au-Prince. CAM supplies us with medications and other medical supplies that help us greatly in our medical ministry. After the hurricane, they distributed various relief materials and have been helping to rebuild houses in several communities outside Jérémie. They also sent two large gas-powered long saws to help communities cut up logs that were downed by the hurricane. We heard they were in a community near our clinic and convinced them to bring their saw to our site and cut up logs for us and for people in the communities around the clinic. Well, come they did and they have been busy the past week cutting up over 30 logs each day for people who are able to bring them to the site. The wood includes mahogany, veritab (breadfruit), mango and other wood commonly used for making doors and furniture. Some of the logs are so heavy, it’s taken up to 15 men to carry them from their community to our clinic. Some of the logs are being rolled down mountain slopes to get to us. And, once they are cut, the planks are carried on their heads back home again.
Our staff helped the CAM team set up their saw on a flat area of land near where our clinic was located. A tarp keeps the sun and rain away.
The CAM crew arranges the log on the saw to prepare it for cutting
CAM short-term worker Josiah runs the saw all day, cutting the logs into planks
Pile of planks after being taken off the saw. The owner of the log is responsible for taking them home.
Young boy helps carry a plank back home
Ever the supervisor, Cherlie looks on as the saw team does its work.
It takes a team to bring one of our logs to be sawed into planks
Logs remaining to be cut at the end of the day
We’re grateful to CAM for this wonderful service to our communities. To give a little perspective on the enormity of their contribution, here is a photo of local men cutting a log into planks by hand, using a long saw:
Cutting a log into planks by hand
It usually takes several days to cut one log into planks and the quality of the work is dependent on the skill of the worker. This is one case where we’re willing to put some people out of jobs in order to benefit the greater population! Thank you, CAM!