Friday, February 19, 2010

Reminders of Senegal...

I have been reading more about the needs of the hospital I am going to work at in Hinche. What I am learning sounds so familiar, like the clinics in Senegal--electricity is intermittent, running water scares and unsanitary. The staff has to work by flashlight once the sun goes down. The photos I have found look similar too--cracked walls, dirty walls (I remember thinking that the curtains in Senegal hadn't been cleaned in years and years and that touching them would be very unwise). I wonder if there is an autoclave to sterilize the rusty instruments (I heard there are few instruments anyways, and that the ones there are rusted) and if it is even used. The autoclave in Senegal was used for storage and not because it didn't work. It worked perfectly fine, but it took too much time--by the time it would have finished sterilizing the limited number of instruments too many women would have been in and out of the clinic.

There are now problems occurring with sanitation and the access to clean water is diminishing. I am uncertain how this is all impacting the hospital in Hinche and the St. Joseph's community. The board members of Midwives for Haiti are traveling there in March, so hopefully they will have more to report. This morning I read the statement "the stench of decomposing bodies [has been] replaced by that of excrement." The rain that has been falling on the Haiti is causing further problems. I wonder what the sanitation will be like when I arrive--at the peak of rainy season and malarial outbreaks. Already there are concerns about the rise of diarrheal related illnesses like typhoid and an expectation for cholera outbreaks.

I have been asked several times in the last 24 hours what it is that I am going to eat and where the food will come from. Right now the report is that we have access to rice and beans, provided by the monks who will be hosting us--but where are they getting the rice and beans? And if the market is open and we can purchase food--what will even be available and at what cost? I may be able to afford to buy a chicken from some local farmer (and apparently there are chickens to buy), but how will it feel to know that I am one of a few with the means to buy food. When I was in Senegal food wasn't an issue, there was plenty of fish (more fish than I care to remember) and plenty of millet, powdered yogurt, hard boiled eggs, and bitter root vegetables. If we were hungry in the middle of a shift it was easy for one of us to walk to the market and buy a watermelon--the perfect sweet, refreshing snack for the hot environment. It was a fun snack to share with the medical staff and they purchased plenty that they shared with us. The people in the small, poor village of M'boro for the most part seemed well fed. Granted there was malnutrition, but I know it will be nothing in comparison to the conditions of Haiti. I am not sure I am or can be prepared for that reality.

1 comment:

Aunty Cathy said...

I am holding you in high watch and will continue to read your blog with great interest. We love you!
Aunty Cathy