A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: LiseD

LEAVING HAITI

As I leave Haiti, I have to think of the people that I have met. The first person would be Patrick. Patrick is 21 years of age who was placed in an orphanage before he was 2 years of age. An Aunt came to get him but returned him to the orphanage by the age of 4. From what I understand he was mistreated and suffered a great deal. The orphanage was large however to this day he has made connections with other children that were placed with him. He left the orphanage when he was 19 years of age as some people promised to assist him however they were empty promises. As he told me many people say they will help but they never do – unfortunately one of these people tried to get him to the States but unfortunately there focus was on themselves – how wonderful to say they have an orphan from Haiti - they tried to get him to come by tricking Immigrations - that went all bad and Patrick was sent back to Haiti. His dream is to go to the States one day. He works 6 days a week from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. – he left school after completing grade 10. He speaks French, Creole and English. He wished to return to school so he enrolled in public school – which is known as lottery schools – why? Some days you have teachers other days you do not. So after speaking to Patrick and others I made the decision to cover the cost for him to attend grade 11 in a private school with no strings attached. I told Patrick a friend and I have supported a young man in Nepal to complete a 2 year program for electrical engineer and he is in his last term ( top 10 in his class) so I felt I could assist him. I only wish to have the honour of covering the cost for his grade 12. Patrick is a very talented dancer and works so hard. He feels so all alone - so for me this is the right thing to do.

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Patrick

The other most amazing person I have ever met in all my life is Ninotte. I am totally taken by her – I don’t think I have ever met anyone like her before. She is so totally a classily lady in her late 30s who has a vision and a dream. One day she will play a major role in the direction of Haiti as she has such passion but has the drive to make it happen. She is the first person in Haiti that will have status with the North American mid-wives organization. She has been invited to D.C. to attend conferences as she has certainly impressed other people in the States that have met her. She will be completing her Business Administration degree by March of next year. She has also written a book on Haiti – the history and what are the options for Haiti now. She would like it published in Creole and English – but unfortunately the cost to publish in Haiti is like over 15 thousand dollars – so if anyone knows anything about publishing in Canada please contact me as I think it would be much cheaper than Haiti. She has and is living in poverty – she supports 4 family members and herself on less than $300 a month. I cannot go into all her details of the life that she has had but all I can say this woman will make a difference as she believes in her country and its people.

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Group picture – Ninotte on the right

The other people are Sarah and the small group of staff that work at the clinic. What I love about the Olive Tree Projects is Sarah’s dream of sustainability – she is training local people to run the clinic but she is doing much more. One day soon she will have a school to train woman in Haiti to be mid-wives and run a number of clinics themselves. The staff are the kindest people I have ever met – when you talk about no judgement these staff reflect this like I have never seen before. Haiti has many issues and one of them is all about survival so it is not a monogamist society as it is based on one being able to provide food and shelter – so many families are headed by woman with children trying to provide for their children. STDs including HIV/AIDS are wide spread. The staff do not judge but try to assist to ensure that the mothers and babes are healthy.

The other person is my beloved six year old – she has taught me about survival. Amazing that I learnt from a six year old on how to be strong and how to deal with life the way it was dealt to you. You do the best that you can with what you have and this six year old has shown me that. She will forever hold a special place in my heart even if she gave me a run for my money.

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My beloved child

I certainly can write about all the issues in Haiti and provide my own political point of view but I do not think this is the time or the place to do so. At the end of the day Haiti is in the new classification of 4th world countries - what I have seen and experienced is a depth of poverty like I have never seen before nor will I see again for a long time. However I have to say I have never met people young and old that are so determined to make Haiti a better place.

For me this has been a very difficult trip – it will take me a long time to process the lows and the highs of the last 4 weeks. However it makes me more determined to leave this world a better place. The things I do are a drop in a bucket as the work that needs to be done is endless. However a person told me if I can assist one person and make a difference in their life then I should be grateful for the privilege. And that is the only think I can hope for.

Who knows maybe next time I will take a “normal” vacation or not!!!

Until next time take care.

Posted by LiseD 19:54 Archived in Haiti Comments (0)

LET’S GO ON AN ADVENTURE

I am feeling I have not seen the real Haiti yet – so on Wednesday it was a holiday and the clinic was closed. Yvette and I decided that we would go visit Sherline, one of the midwives from another clinic. She lives in a village called Lavanneau which is not far from the “Bassin Bleu”. So off we went by moto (that is the name for the motorcycle/scooter) up to the river. The river is low at this time of year – everything happens at the river – washing clothes, bathing, swimming, dumping of trash, watering animals and everything else.

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Washing Clothes by the river -8219

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Bathing in the river – 8222

To cross the river you need to go by moto or walk across which is tricky due to the slippery rocks. Sherline’s brother came to pick us up – so we are 3 on the moto – we meet Sherline and she hops on as well – no problem – it is all good. On the way there we see many people walking towards Jacmel.

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We go up towards her village – it was a fun ride through water and mud but we made it. Just by her village is another river. Again it is full of people. Sherline says excuse me I need to take a shower you can wait here – little did we know that she met she was going to bath in the river. It is always so surprising that people here think nothing of taking their clothes off and jump into the water to bath. It is different that is for sure.

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Boy taking pig for walk – 8252

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Washing – 8255

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Boys in river - 8291

After Sherline takes a bath we walk up to her house. The house is great and it is even greater as Sherline who is not only a midwife but a mason as well built it. After the earthquake a large part of the house came down so she built onto the part that was still standing. In her house are her parents, 2 brothers, sister and nephew. It is not a big house but it is super clean – there is no kitchen as they cook outside for now.

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The house – 8259

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Old and new meet – 8261

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Sherline by the kitchen – 8267

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Neighbor – 8282

After we visit her home we are invited to visit her father’s garden – this garden would be coconut and banana trees. We walked a very long time along the beach in order to get to the garden. During the last hurricane all this debris got blow in onto the beach – it actually looked like a flip-flop store must have lost all its stock. Flip-flops of all sizes and colours – really strange. However the beauty of the water – blue, blue – was beautiful.

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Beach -8303

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Beauty of the beach – 8308

Once we reached the garden, Sherline’s brother climbed up a coconut tree to cut down some coconuts. It was a great time as other’s came over and we had a little coconut drinking and eating time. Sitting amongst the coconut and banana trees was a nice way to end that long walk knowing that we would have to walk back !!!

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Climbing the coconut tree – 8312

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Now you can’t see him – 8313

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The coconut – 8317

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Little girl drinking from the coconut – 8324

So after are walk back to the house the real adventure began. We were going up to Bassin Bleu which is a gorge that has three separate cold water ponds. The water is a really wonderful blue colour. To get up there because the road is so bad they recommend a 4 wheel drive. But why use a 4 wheel drive when you can have 3 people on a moto to go up there. It was a bit nail biting at times especially going down hill on gravel amongst the pot holes. Up and down hills – going through water it would make any experienced driver nervous.
Once we got to Bassin Bleu we had to walk or like I prefer to call it trek in. It wasn’t bad until we had to cross a gorge by crossing the shell of a coconut tree. I have a fear of heights – I really saw myself falling over. I basically ran across it which was not the smartness as you had to put one foot in front of the other – but I made it twice.

I only made it to the second basin – the three basin you had to climb down a rope to get to – it wasn’t bad but by that time I was like done from the heat.

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Bassin Bleu – 8343

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Bassin Bleu – 8344
We trekked out and went back on the moto for the trip back. I think I was scared on the way down as I knew what the ride would be like – but we made it. We went back across the river which was a little shaky as the rocks where very slippery and the moto just about toppled over – but we got to the other side – yes safe on flat land.

Yvette and I decided to walk around Jacmel as she knows a number of people here and wanted to visit friends. It was interesting to see the damage from the earthquake which is pretty visible all around town.

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Jacmel = 8357

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Jacmel = 8358
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Jacmel – 8360
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Jacmel – 8364
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Jacmel – 8366
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Street view – 8368
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Street view – 8371

One of the things that is very clear in walking around – everything happens on the street. When you live in a house, that is basically as large as my living room or smaller, with 6 people and up you need a place to go – so the street becomes like almost this big living room with all of your friends. The poverty is hard to describe – it is right in front of you everywhere. It makes you stop and think – what have I got to complain about – it is like having tennis elbow when someone else is hemorrhaging – that is what it felt like to me and it is the only way I can describe it. It was an adventure a day filled with many highs and lows, I also met some very interesting people which even made this day more special.

My time in Haiti is quickly coming to an end – one more blog enter and that will be it

Until then

Posted by LiseD 19:16 Archived in Haiti Comments (0)

NO HELMENT REQUIRED

]So if you picture this – taxis here are a cross between a scooter and motorcycle. I went to the market and had a very large heavy bag of produce over my left shoulder and I was holding a squash type vegetable as well. I get on the taxi and quickly realize that I tip to the left – it was too late to stop so I had to bend my right leg – move it up and hang onto my knee with my right hand. So I am kind of teetering on this motorcycle thing – not hanging onto anything but at least I am not falling off. We are going down the somewhat paved road that has huge potholes and traffic that uses both sides of the road. When we finally arrived one of the first thought was no helmets are required here why is that? We seem to worry a lot about safety in Canada – is that a good thing?

Here it is really different as far as safety goes, as we know it, it really doesn’t happen. For example one our power poles got hit by a truck – the guy in the truck gets out and moves the power lines himself. When the power is fixed a few days later not everyone has power. One of the neighbours has had enough and gets a ladder and connects it himself. No big deal.

In going to the market which is person to person selling things in the heat with a little kind of cover over some of the venders it really made me think of where the food comes from that I eat here. The market itself was not the worse market I have been to and the reason as there was very little meat, poultry and fish vendors which certainly speaks to the poverty in Haiti. Without these types of vendors the smell factor is down and you can only smell the rotting garbage – not bad really as opposed to meat products in the sun. You see dogs running through the market and other animals. You see people giving flour, sugar and other grains/beans from little bowls sitting on the ground with dust flying everywhere. But it is all OK as people buy these things and go home and cook with it. So far I have not been sick so I am surviving despite where my food comes from. At home I would run away screaming if this is how our farmers market looked like.

Very few people here have fridges. Even if you do power it is down for 10 to 11 hours a day. On a day like this we have not had power since 3 a.m.(it took 15 hours) for some reason or other so a fridge really has little use. Food sits on the counter or cooking plate for hours with no concern. The other day someone made a pasta type salad with mayonnaise and it stayed out on the table for 6 hours – and it is very hot here. No worries people keep eating it with no concern. I wouldn’t want to try that at home as no one would touch it for fear of getting sick. When I said I didn’t get sick well I did after writing this blog – I had a tablespoon of pasta salad as one of the girls had made it – that was a very big mistake. I am now feeling much better and back to eating rice only which right now is the best bet for me.

However before that happened I was able to have Bar-que which is considered fast food – not really fast according to my standards – 30 mins not bad for here.

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Best Place for Bar-que in Jacmel

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Deep Fried Plantains - 8190

There are no seat belts, baby car sits, motorcycle helmets, traffic lights nor real traffic rules but yet people keep moving and considering the amount of traffic I have not seen one accident or an anger person. The only thing I did see was a person texting while driving a motorcycle – well there are stupid people everywhere I guess.
People in little tiny hovels – in some cases many families all live together. However in saying that most of the places are spotless and so are they. Their clothes are always cleaned and starched. I have seen few people who are not – even people from the camps have pressed clothing. Most of the clothes come from the US or Canada Goodwill and places like that – a little out of style but very nice. People take a great deal of pride in how they look.

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Home

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Home – 8186
They also take pride that they have clean motorcycles. This is a picture of a heavy carwash – it is considered heavy as it uses a hose and that is rare here.

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Heavy duty car wash – 8166

One of the things that people take very seriously here is personal safety. This is especially true of foreigners and people who can afford it. Crime is extremely high and I have heard many stories of what has happened to people – it is all about the money. So security is important – it is dark 12 hours of the day here and no power for 4 of those hours,

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View from my room – 8197

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View from the living area of the main house – 8200

But any type of security is really very basic here. Bars are put across the inside of the door every night for added security. But even with all of that people can figure it out. My room overlooks the clinic and there is a tiny alcove outside – well some sleeps in that alcove – not every night but a lot of nights. First it freaked me out – but now I am alright with it as they are just looking for a safe place to sleep. I think it is Ziggy a 12 year old boy who lives with his father. His father beats him badly when he has been drinking so I think Ziggy just needs a safe place and that is alright. I will keep thinking it is Ziggy that is there so I can sleep at night.
The house next door has about 3 or 4 dogs – that is the beer house so there is always a lot of things going on there – however if any one messes with her the dogs are trained to attack.

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House next door -8195

Being a foreigner does make you a target – not so much when you are walking around in an area with lots of people – it is an issue when you are alone. We went to the isolated beach where they have the Church by the Ocean – Yvette, the 6 year old, the baby and me. Yvette and the 6 year old went for a walk – I was sitting in the shade with the baby when two guys approached asking for American money – when I said I had none – they stood apart so I could not watch both of them – and they started jabbering so I could not understand. I was so worried about the baby and trying to think where could I run. This went on for about 10 mins when I saw Yvette coming back – I called to her and wave. Finally after telling them over and over I did not have money – but I could take their picture which will be sent to Hollywood – universal language – they understood that and where very happy.

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Hollywood Stars
I do not feel comfortable here and it in large due to the fact that I have not been able to explore the area in daylight hours. People who have been here before or for a long time seem to be able to go out at night with caution but have learnt not to live in fear. I have heard that a lot – you cannot live in fear.

I don’t know about that – I am a little fearful and I don’t think that will change before I leave.

I just want to end with an interesting fact – you cannot bring guns into Haiti however you can bring ammunition – people do it all the time so they can give it to the local police. Most police officers here have only 2 bullets. Not such a good thing.

Until next time.

Posted by LiseD 12:04 Archived in Haiti Comments (0)

IT TAKES A WHOLE VILLAGE TO HELP ME

IT TAKES A WHOLE VILLAGE TO HELP ME

A delay in my blog as happened due to power shortages, internet being down and me being sick for a couple of days.
I am very thankful for all the people who have helped me care for the two children – it is not over yet but it soon will be. While looking after a 15 yr and 6 yr sounds easy it certainly has not. I moved from my little room into the main house while I was caring for the baby. The main house is small and I shared a room with the children and the baby. The bed I slept in was interesting as if you rolled over you would fall out of bed – not just fall out of bed but the whole bed would flip over. I had the baby sleeping a box beside me – this was good as the ants could not get to the baby and I had a little bug net over the box.

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Baby in a box – 8151

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My new digs – 8152
The problem I had with sleeping in the house was the number of bugs. They do not have screens on all the windows. I had mosquito, ant and spider bites all over my legs, back, hands, arms and neck. Some of the spider and ant bites were not pretty. I also was not using any repellant because of the baby. I moved back to my little room, started applying repellant and soak my legs in the ocean and they have just about all cleared up – yeah !!!

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A the beach - 8154
Every day the girls get up at 6 - I sing to them every day to get them up – You Are My Sunshine” – I am not a great singer but they like it (or so I think) and then it is off to school before 7:30 a.m. With the other little boy that comes over every day.

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Off to School – 8160

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The other child – 8158

To help was supposed to be a cook – well that did not happen. So the lady that doesn’t do much of anything had to cook – she was not happy at all – I nicked name her P.I.T.A. as she was always not happy about something.

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P.I.T.A. 8162

However she wanted to be my friend – she turned out to be really nice and even made me one of the recycled paper bracelet and earrings.
Then I have my helpers – Paulo and Ageny – Paulo goes to school so is here in the afternoon – did I mention that school is only half a day. Ageny does not attend school. These two boys have been wonderful even if they eat all the food. I have run into things like no drinking water which they buy from the water bottle people. Here they use the same plastic water containers over and over – I really don’t know how clean it is but it alright. I also ran out of non- drinking water – this comes in a tanker truck and they fill up the well so to speak. I also had a propane leak – thanks to the boys I did not blow the house up.

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Ageny – 8163

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Paulo helping with homework – 8145

Paulo is currently in grade 10 and wants to become a doctor – he gets so excited when he talks about going to medical school. He is a very smart boy and is very nice. I hope his dream will come true one day.

And of course the 15 yr old who really can cook well. Behaviour wise not so good as she keeps picking on the 6 yr old – like all the time. However her cooking is good – she takes coconut and shreds it all and puts in a big pot of boiling water – she boils it for about 30 mins and then removes all the coconut pulp out of the water. After that is complete she puts the rice into the water – it is the best coconut rice ever. So I really can’t be mad at her for too long or I would starve on Sunday.

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Cleaning rice - 8148

I also have this one certain 19 or 20 yr pregnant young lady named Linda. She doesn’t do much but eat and as the food is limited she had to go back home. She would hang out all day long and would often be in the clinic touching things. She no longer hangs around here.

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Linda – 8149

And the biggest help has been Yvette. She has been just so wonderful in assisting me and if nothing else she gets me a bottle of beer every night. I really don’t even like beer but I am loving it more.

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Yvette with babe – 8146

And the most difficult part of all of this is the children don’t speak English – they speak French or Cajun or both together. My French is coming along alright and I am able to communicate in a limited way. However sometimes they just look at me and sometimes they laugh. No big deal at least I am trying.

Until next time

Posted by LiseD 05:30 Archived in Haiti Comments (0)

I HAVE SEEN THE MOST AMAZING HAPPENING 3 TIMES

I had the most amazing experiences – I was able to see 3 babies being born. The first birth was a woman who came from one of the camps. Her husband, 2 children and her were moved from Port au Prince to Jacmel after the earthquake. Some well-meaning but misguided rich guy moved a number of people to Jacmel and put them in these little plastic huts as opposed to the tents. He put these little huts in the path way of a flood zone – so whenever it rains they get flooded. They do not work as he is building a hotel that he wants them to work in which is not even close to being done. He provides for them which means housing and beans/rice for food. The woman needed to get a note saying she required fresh vegetables. It was a little sad. Her husband came to the clinic with her to support her. And so did one of the camp “bosses” who was quickly sent away – he said he wanted to make sure everyone was alright. This birth had a few risk to the baby as the mother had been treated for syphilis and was supposedly clear but people were still unsure of the risk. Also the RH factor was also a risk however having to successful births in the past it was felt this one should go well.

It was amazing to watch as she had delivered two babies on her own before so she knew what she was doing. Birthing is different here – the women sing through their contractions – no yelling or screaming. At the last moment they start saying, “Mes amis, mes amis”, (my friends, my friends) – they say this as they call out for strength from family, friends, saints. This woman was so in tuned with her body – she went into a deep squat and with no assistance had her baby. The mid-wife caught the baby and that was it. It appeared so effortless. Her water had not broken prior to birth so this provided a cushion for the baby’s head which was prefect. The baby appeared to be healthy however the next day it would need to go to the hospital to get tested for syphilis. I am happy to say all is well with the baby.

The second birth was a woman who came in with her sister and mother – Nicely dressed for someone who was in labour. She came in and within 20 mins had her baby. However the baby was born sunny side up which causes a few problems – I will spare you the gory detail. When the baby was born it was not crying however the colour was good and he was moving. It was that he swallowed a lot of fluid so it just needed to cleared out. A little bit of a panic however it was all good. She left the next day in another wonderful dress and looked like had just gone out for tea as opposed to having a baby. As she had come in at 11:30 p.m. she stayed until noon the next day. Her family slept on the floor of the clinic – this happens all the time. Some who have been here before are well prepared with blankets, water and food.

The next one had started before the lady in the nice dress. She had come in around 10:30 p.m. and had her baby at 7:30 a.m. She was interesting as she came in with a group of people including the local birthing lady who asked her to start pushing as soon as she came in – a little discussion occurred – her belief is that if you start pushing early the baby will move faster. The mother was interesting – a little dramatic as opposed to the other 2 however she does sing well. All the relatives were all there hovering as the labour according to them was taking so long. All along her contractions were very weak and short. One of the ways to simulate the labour is to rub the woman’s nipples. One of the relatives that was there was asked to do this – she looked at me and said you do – I have to say I do not – I am not going to rub some strange woman’s nipples while she is in labour. I assisted in other ways and have the bruises on my arms to proof it – I passed on that one. I also wasgetting things that were required – a small help but I felt like part of it. Near the end things did get a little rough – the baby’s head had crowned but couldn’t be pushed out and tearing was occurring from the outside instead of the inside – anyway to spare you the details it is enough to say they had to assist her in order to get the baby out. Now I am not one for body fluids but I surprised myself as I was able to watch and hand towels as required through this all.

After the birth I rested for a couple of hours and went to visit baby, mom and all the relatives. For some odd reason they thought I was a mid-wife even though I told them several times I was not – it still didn’t stop them from asking me questions that I could not answer.
These 3 births all happened within 2 days and it was an experience that I am so overjoyed to have had – it is really an amazing thing. I have learnt a lot about the birthing process and the different stages of labour. I am not sure what I will do with all this information but all I know it was the best 2 days ever !!!

The interesting thing about Haiti is that they do use a combination of medical doctors, mid-wives and voodoo doctors. So it is all so interesting – so if something is wrong one of the three will fix it.

All I have to say is giving birth by using a midwife is so totally different then the hospital experience. So much gentler and kinder.

To change the topic – I guess I can do that as this is my blog. The children learn English by repeating what you say – it is a little odd but it works. So if you tell them something to do they will repeat it and repeat it and repeat it – so endearing – not really. The children around the neighborhood now know the word “gross” – seems to be a word I use a lot and they now understand what it means. It has become a great source of enjoyment and fun to gross me out – such cute little gaffers !!!

Just an update on the mother in jail – she is out and is staying with one of the church ladies. We also returned the baby to her on Wednesday. And none too soon – I decided I am so over 3 week old babies while very cute they are very demanding day and night. She is very docile and I do not believe she will run any time soon with her baby. Sarah returns next week and she can make the decision to take her back or not. I am pretty sure she will. Tough lesson go to jail for 3 days – no charges nothing. Interesting system. They still have no proof of her age so they will continue to treat her as a 15 year old.

Until next time.

Posted by LiseD 13:53 Archived in Haiti Comments (1)

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