The entire staff was on strike at the Port Au Prince Hospital today. It was an empty shell with crumbling walls and a few patients here and there. It felt like a haunted house, like I was walking on dead bodies and gawking at what should still be. Most of the sick people we interacted with, had come to be seen, if only every once in awhile, by a random Doctor, before dying. It was sobering, and awful.
I’m lying here with Carlos on a cot that I attempted to share last night. He’s much smaller than last night’s bed buddy, so we’re just chilling out before someone makes him jump in bed. I’ll be out in my hammock under the stars. These babies are the heart and soul of this country, they are in the care of an incredible man whom believes in them; Go-Haiti knows these boys and girls can overcome a culture where ten people are rumored to die every two seconds.
I learned a lot of random Creole today, most of which I will probably forget by the weekend. Poule, Gode, Lo…It is so revitalizing to serve without a prerogative; working in the kitchen, watching a hard piece of rocky soil be transformed into a breeding ground for a sufficient and nutritious garden, playing and losing a hard fought soccer game in penalty kicks—I had the honor of cleaning the feet of a 79 year old Haitian man suffering from a pickax injury he sustained right before the earthquake. He will be back tomorrow—I love him.
The picture above is where I lost it, and it’s the only real one that I took while we walked around the hospital. On the day of the earthquake, 400 nurses perished at Port Au Prince hospital. These relief tents now stand in the place of what was once the nursing school. All of the nurses were there, finishing up the school day when the building collapsed. My soul is heavy because this is real. I walked through a living grave today; and today, I had nothing more to give than my prayers.
Carlos is breathing deep belly breaths; he’s a total cheeseball, working the system with his brother Gaye-Paye, smiling big and inhaling candy all day. Now he’s sleeping and in a moment of juxtapose, I see how he’s a sweet little boy with soft brown skin, with a strong, tenacious soul. He knows he is loved, he does not have to be a statistic.
We drove around today and I couldn’t stop from repeating, I’m sorry…I’m so damn sorry, in my head. It’s pitiful, my response, so small and insignificant and my reach too tiny to make a dent. But it’s something, and I’m sorry that until now I don’t think it has registered that I have to give all I am to relieve the suffering. There is so much joy in the solitude of an interaction with a human being, especially one whom has been habitually accustomed to conditions that are not only unacceptable, but conditions that lack dignity and pay no respect to basic human rights. If the patients in a near vacant hospital, still have enough hope to hand over 7 month old x-rays to a visiting doctors, surely, we can join them.
The great Dokte sang How Great though Art, in French, alone, in front of our visiting group, before bed last night. In that moment, as tears streamed down my dirty face, still sticky with dust from the day, I was reminded of a brief conversation we had while organizing the pharmacy one afternoon…”You know, I didn’t choose this life, Sarah,” he said, and I thanked him for being brave enough to say yes.