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Free counter Dr. Pittendreigh's Mission To Haiti 2004: Final Reflections On Haiti - September 30

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Final Reflections On Haiti - September 30

(If you are reading this "blog" for the first time, the most recent entries are at the top of the page. To read from the beginning, simply scroll down and work your way up).

Haiti is a unique nation. The first impression that most people have of the country is its poverty. It is certainly true that poverty is widespread and intense -- 80% of the country lives in poverty.

My strongest first impression of Haiti, however, was the lack of sanitation. Almost everything is dirty. Trash is everywhere. We're not talking about a little bit of litter -- it's a lot and it's all over the place. We walked on one beach and the shoreline was covered with trash.

Part of the sanitation problem is the absence of an adequate sewage system and public restrooms. Men and women relieve themselves in public, making little or no effort to find any privacy. On rare occasions, churches and schools have outhouses. The hospital in Leogane has its own septic tank system and has effecient toilet system. The Hotel Montana in Port au Prince also has American style bathrooms. But these are rare exceptions.

And yet, while there is trash everywhere, there is also wonderful and colorful artwork everywhere. You see wonderful and creative art in the hotels and in the churches, but even the buses and "taptaps" are painted in creative ways.

I did not write much about the Hopital Sainte Croix in Leogane. One of our team members stayed at the hospital daily, working on electrical systems. The rest of us left the hospital each day in order to set up the mobile clinics. However, each night we stayed in the hospital compound. One of the team members gave me a good tour of the place.

The hospital is a large building, and is very prominent in the small town of Leogane. It is in a walled compound that provides a safe environment. Inside the compound are offices, a chapel or church building, living accomodations for a couple of the staff, the guesthouse, and of course the hospital itself.

The hospital is poorly lit. Compared to American hospitals, it is dark and dirty. When I looked in the pharmacy, I saw shelves that were completely bare. Patients often sleep on plastic covered mattresses without sheets. They depend on family members to be personal caregivers, helping them bath or use the restroom. And yet, the patients who come here speak glowingly of the wonderful care they received. In an impoverished nation lacking adequate health care, Sainte Croix provides what is unavailable to many Haitian communities.

Haiti is a dangerous place. Anyone who comes here should certainly know this before visiting. The State Department has travel warnings for this country. If you get in trouble, don't expect to be able to secure the help of the police. If you become ill or have an accident, there are few hospitals.

However, it is not a frightening place.

I never felt fear -- just an elevated sense of caution and awareness. But I feel that in some parts of Atlanta.

The people we encountered seem genuinely honest and good folk. They have good humor. They love their families and friends.

They are, without doubt, children of God. They are loved by their Creator and they stand in need of our love. The work done by Good Shepherd and other visiting groups gives a great deal to a people who need help.

May God continue to bless the mission efforts of our church, and the people of Haiti.


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5:07 AM  

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