Google+ WTN Haiti Partnership: April 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Coming Home

This is my last hello from Haiti. 
I am ready to come home!! Sam and two of his friends came today and we finished up everything except for a few little things that Monty can do on Saturday and Monday. I have finished my job here. The garden is plumbed and the pump is on. I am going to pack tonight and get to bed early so my sunburn and I will be ready to fly home tomorrow. The end of an amazing trip. Thank you for listening!
All my love,

Bricks and Lumber and Clown Noses


Today Sam was unable to come, so we did what we could and will hopefully finish tomorrow when Sam should be there. We built the grow bed that holds the plants and got it set up. We went to get paint. We'll see what happens tomorrow with garden plans. Our hope is to get the barrels and grow bed finished and put water in them. The students will be testing the pH of the water while we are gone--hoping nitirfication happens! On June 10 we will add the fish and plants and go from there. 

We have spent a lot of time having fun with the students and staff here. We believe this is as important as how many nails we drive. We are enjoying ourselves as we build this garden and become part of this community.

Tess is great with a saw and drill. They staff and residents are rather surprised at her carpentry skills. It is not what they expect. The women are applauding and the men are just surprised!!

I am attaching a few pictures to this email that I hope you will enjoy. 
1. I brought clown noses and one of the little girls just had so much fun with hers. Brittany took this picture. 
2. Me and Tess working on the grow bed. Please note she is the one working and I am the one sitting on the board to hold it still!
3. Brittany doing the laundry.
4. The kids lunch, which consists of a large portion of rice and Haitian peas.
5. Me, Brittany, Tess, and Monty in the back of the pick-up truck moving bricks and lumber. 

More tomorrow, which will be my last day at the school.

Much Love

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Building Fences, Washing Clothes


It's Tuesday in the evening. We made a push today and the short picket fence and the gate went up. YEA! Monty, Tess and some of the boys put together the frame for the grow bed. Yea! Yea! Sam will be here tomorrow and we will start the barrels for the fish and begin to set up the grow garden.

I changed my "return home" ticket from this morning until Friday. I'm going to try to finish testing hearing aids and maybe wash some more clothes with the ladies.
Right now I am sitting on the roof of the Guest House with a Prestige listening to the sounds of Haiti. The birds sound like an orchestra tuning up--violins screeching, violas being plucked, wooden flutes playing scales, someone tinkling the high keys on a piano, a kettle drum, lots of triangles, and a sound like someone pinched the soprano and she screamed. It is rainy season and sometime in the middle of the night the rain will come down hard and fast, which is another great sound.

Not much else today. It should be a good day tomorrow. 

Love to you all,

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hammering Nails and Washing Clothes

Bon jou my dear friends,

Still busy and making headway toward the garden. We were off to St. Vincent's at 8 a.m. this Monday morning. This is Brittany's last day here. She flies home to go to work tomorrow. We will really miss her work and her sweet spirit. We are able to make use of a lot of the scrap lumber at St. Vincent's. Monty is a genius at that. The gate and fence (more like a barrier for stray soccer balls) are almost done. We'll pick up pickets on the way to the school tomorrow. Then we begin getting the barrels ready for the fish. 

The younger boys just loved helping Monty hammer and nail the boards. They were fascinated with the level. Monty was so patient and made sure they all got a turn to hammer a nail. Consequently, there are a LOT of nails in this short fence. Tess, too, was a great teacher with the tools. We asked some of the girls who were watching if they wanted to nail, but they didn't. I suspect this is cultural more than anything else, but that's just an opinion. Monty is one of the hardest working and big-hearted people I have ever worked with--so generous. 

Tess, Brittany and I tested about 30 of the middle-school kids hearing aids.
Tess gathered a great deal of information about the food and cooking situation with Brittany as her invaluable interpreter. Tess cooked with the kitchen staff. She and JoJo interviewed Marie Carmel about what the food needs are and what food they get now, what vegetables they want planted in the garden, etc. 

Wonderful and surprising experiences today: 
1. Tess building the gate, sawing pulling nails, driving nails, and helping the young boys hammer and use the level.
2. Tess helping to cook the lunch.
3. Brittany sitting at one of the large metal wash buckets with a ball of soap and scrubbing the kid's clothes. I helped some, but Brittany really gets the gold star for this! The washing ladies are very particular about how this is done. How to rub the soap on the clothes, how to hold the fabric, how to hold your hands when  you scrub, how vigorous you have to scrub, how to squeeze out the water out of the fabric, how to scrub until every spot is out. It's obvious how proud they are of their work. We laughed a lot and I'm sure we slowed them down, but they were so gracious to allow us to help. 
I managed to get a sunburn on my nose and cheeks today. The Haitian sun is not kind to my pale skin!

More tomorrow,
Much love to you all,

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Progress with finding a site for the new Gardens

Bon jou!
I'm the first one awake again--pigs are back to greet me! Saturday was a most interesting day. We walked 3 times to the garden site and back to the school. For safety we always travel in groups and with a Haitian escort. The walk (a mere 2 blocks) is a journey. The streets are so crowded. There is lots of trash and garbage, parked cars, traffic, noise, people asking for food and money, people selling food. I usually run into one or two deaf people who recognize me from the school and we have a quick conversation if we can. Such a short distance can be a little overwhelming. 
As with most things that last, initial planning is critical. In our effort to stay fluid and make the best decisions possible, our plans have changed. Sam (whom I call Samwise) is also from 100gardens and working in Monaihaim. He came Saturday to consult with Monty. By the end of the day we decided to move the site of the garden! Thanks to Tess and Brittainy's ideas, we found a place to put it on the campus where the children currently live and have classes. 
This is great. It means the students don't have to walk to the other site daily to take care of it, which Pere Sadoni, the head of the school, does not feel is safe.  The kids can watch the garden grow, they can help take care of it, the kitchen staff has easy access. Sadoni has approved--everyone is happy.  This has been a REMARKABLE day!

Team in Haiti building aquaponics gardens

 It's Friday morning and I woke up before anyone in the house. I'm sitting on a second story balcony overlooking the creek at the back of the house which has these small black Haitian pigs rooting around in it. There is a bougainvillea vine growing wild in this tree and has reached about 40 feet high--hot pinks and some oranges--unbelievably beautiful. I'm looking for spider monkeys but have only found a ghekko staring at my toe like he may be considering breakfast. 
Today I leave behind my American notions of getting this garden started:
Day 1--gather and inventory materials
Day 2--begin to build on the perfect spot
Day 3--add water, plant the seeds
Day 4--stock with fish
Day 5--observe fish swimming and kale growing!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Agape Love

Thursday, April 16
One of the paradoxes of the 4th and final day doing clinic is - a sense of accomplishment that we are almost done and the sadness that we are almost done and will be leaving. As a team of 10 we have done the work of twice as many, seeing 268 people, a half-dozen more that I did not make cards on, and those that were repeats. The repeats were an issue of who “saw them”. It turns our that if the one of the nurses took their blood pressure, they wanted to have me, Dr. Sue retake their blood pressure. Apparently my blood pressure cuff must be more precise... flattering but not necessary. I explained to the team this is culturally based as well as it comes after 4 years of Dr.Nelson and I establishing a relationship with the people St. V; they know we love and care for their well being.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Life prevails

It is my granddaughter Emily’s 9th birthday. I called her at 6:30 her time to wish her the best of day. My wish carried over to the Haiti team. We had a good day; hot but good day. Prior to addressing our totals and patient issues, let me that the long way around to share the observations of the day and other events.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chicago was built by Haitians-what?

Today was a good day, not so much about the children, the adults and the experience of and at St. V. It was a day of personal growth. We took the HHH van via the ummmm scenic route through the hills to the school; thus, some in the back of the van discovered they could not tolerate the hills and the diesel fumes. UGH nausea is not a pleasant experience. Happy to report, most had a good recovery. 

What? No Air Conditioning?!

Hello All - going well. I would turn on the AC, if there was any!!
Monday, April 13th
We were up early to leave at 730... the plan was to see the flag rising at St. V. Note the plan; however the bus driver called to say he would be 30 minutes late. Many of us did not sleep well and UGH was the sound heard. Oh well - we will get there eventually.
The driver came in a SUV with Mr. Jonas also in an SUV; our bags in one and Tiffany and Matthew stuffed in the back end of the other. Good sports award for the day to both of them.

CBU Nursing team in Haiti

Dr Sue Trzynka has a team of nurses working at St Vincents this week.  She sends me daily reports of their experience.  Read below for her first few days in Haiti:

Hello All
Saturday: April 11th
We have arrived in Haiti. A few of the airport missteps, like packing the insect spray in the carry-on bag, a student bringing her own supply of food for the week (we won’t talk about the excessive bag fee here), and no name tags on bags but hey what was that information sheet for anyway.