I have learned many new things this week — patient evaluation protocols, Haitian creole phrases, the (very, very high) value of air conditioning, and even the disregard that chickens have for time. I’ve laid awake in bed multiple times this week wondering what chicken could possibly think the sun rises at 4 a.m. (and wondering why it chose to “bwak” directly under my window), but I’ve also used that time to reflect on the astounding things I have been able to experience in the short amount of time I have been in Haiti.
There was no manual or handbook that could have prepared me for what I have been experiencing in my days since landing in Port-au-Prince and traveling to Jacmel. No WKU student has ever completed their EXS 496 internship in Haiti, so there were no “past experiences” to rely on. It was necessary to go into this experience with an open mind, because I had no other choice. That didn’t stop me from worrying, stressing, and questioning my sanity (multiple times) on the day I hopped on a plane to Haiti by myself for 5 weeks. My worries have proven to be unnecessary, though, as I have been welcomed by CCH staff with open arms and have felt the love of Jesus with me every step of the way.
A typical day in my Haitian adventure goes like this:
- I wake up (usually twice – once by the chickens at 4:00 and once by my 7:15 alarm). I brush my teeth using my water bottle and put on a little deodorant to cover up any sleep sweat that might have (definitely) occurred.
- I head downstairs for breakfast at 7:30. CCH has full-time staff members that cook every meal for me. I’m spoiled!
- One of CCH’s drivers or security guards takes me to the clinic every morning around 8:20. In the 7 minute car ride I can usually manage to ask 5 – 10 questions about anything and everything — I’m sure they’re happy when I get out of the truck at the clinic.
- By 8:30 I am already soaked in sweat. My body is slowly growing accustomed to the heat, but I am always AMAZED when patients come into the clinic dressed in jeans and long sleeves and are perfectly dry and content.
- The clinic opens at 9:00, but many patients arrive early and wait for us to open.
- From 9:00 – 12:15 I am usually very busy observing the physical therapist, Juberson, or the PT aides, Babo and Baker. They normally talk with me as they are going through procedures with the patients, and try to throw in some creole words that I can remember.
- At 12:15 a CCH staff member arrives with my lunch. As I walk to the break room I say a small prayer that the food doesn’t contain tomatoes or goat meat, but I sit down and eat it anyways.
- The afternoons are usually pretty slow because most patients arrive in the early morning, but I use this time to practice more creole, discuss my homework assignments with Juberson (yes, he gives me A&P topics to research every night), and try not to show how much I am sweating.
- At around 3 the clinic closes and a CCH staff member comes to pick me up.
- We arrive back to the guest house around 3:15. I instantly change out of my scrubs and sit in front of a fan for at least 30 minutes.
- Apart from dinner at 6:00, I spend the rest of the night reading, working on homework, talking with CCH staff, and catching up with family until I decide I’m too tired to stay up any longer (this normally happens at around 9:30).
- I take an amazing, cold shower to wash off my sweaty body, brush my teeth with my water bottle, apply a little more deodorant, and head off to bed!
There have obviously been some minute variations with this schedule, but I am already becoming familiarized with a daily and weekly routine. I have spent the past week working in the clinic, and this weekend i trekked through one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, got to walk around the beach La Co New York, and got to have pizza (!!!) for dinner. This coming week I will work in the clinic again, and next weekend there will (hopefully) be another adventure. There have been some setbacks in my regimen — I don’t always like the food, it’s sometimes hard to see the conditions patients are in, the language barrier is frustrating, I get lonely, it’s really REALLY hot (have I mentioned that before?) — but it’s all a part of the learning experience. Every night, I go to bed a different person than I was when I woke up. This is in part due to the amount of water I lose out of my pores during the day, but also because of the things I am seeing. And let me tell you — I have witnessed some really beautiful things. I have talked to impactful people, seen beautiful sights, learned valuable lessons, and have easily realized how blessed I am!