Cazale, Haiti: Day 1

The airport in Port-au-Prince was so simple.
We took a bus from the terminal where we landed to a warehouse-type building with the immigration, baggage claim & customs. Everything was basic, but clean and orderly. We rented 2 carts, and the guy standing with them wanted my claim tickets for the bags. I wasn’t sure I should give them to him since Lori had warned me not to, but he was really persisting. Then, as we are walking toward the baggage, we saw the guy with papers with our names on the back (and our pictures on the front) – he said to let the guy find our baggage and he gave me the phone to talk to Mr. Zachary. We found all our bags, and walked right out of Customs without answering any questions – or opening any bags. There were lots of people in plaid shirts, looking kind of official, who tried to help with our carts, but we just walked on past them to the parking lot.
Then Mr Zachary (Zach) had a Haitian man that was with him load all our bags in the back of his truck (which has a tall fence around it) and we climbed in back there, too.

We drove through Port-au-Prince for about 30 mins. It looks kind of poor, but better than I expected. People dress okay, not too much begging when we would be at a stop light, and not much attention paid to us.

Eventually, we got out of the city, and started seeing what looked like mountain-side used for grazing animals – but covered with shelter/tent-things. We were between the coast and mountains, and it was very beautiful. If I looked ahead, past the luggage and thru the windshield, I would be VERY scared because we were going fast and toward other cars… so I just looked out at the scenery and was fine. I really felt peaceful. I think we did this for like 30 mins too.

Then we turned up a road into the mountains. It was a gravel road about 3 lanes wide, and was surprisingly safe and not scary. We wound up for awhile over the first 2 foothills, then wound down toward Cazale.
A riverbed of rocks ran along the road, and the water looks very inviting. The trees are thick around the river and up the hills, mainly with banana-type trees. They even cooled the air down. We passed a cemetary where a tombstone stood right out front with Gretchen Zachary’s grave (Zach’s wife) and then arrived at the Clinic.

The clinic is right across from the river. On the other side of the road, between the river and the clinic, are little forts (roofs on sticks) that people sit under selling stuff – probably like our corner store.

The clinic compound is 2 houses with a courtyard that is fenced with gates.

  • The house on the left has storage downstairs, and we sleep upstairs – it has a bunkroom for boys, a bunkroom for girls, and a bedroom for longterm volunteers, as well as a kitchen, living room, and dining area. It is very nice – it has electricity, a computer, a freezer with ice we can use, a regular stove with oven. Almost too nice to be on a mission trip to Haiti. The downstairs was the Rescue Center prior to the earthquake. After the earthquake, the “nannies” that watch the kids were too scared to be in there, even thought the house as been inspected, so they moved it.
  • The house on the right is the clinic.
    • By the gate, there is a Water Mission purification system with huge tanks that pull water from the river and purify it once. Then there is a UV filter that a guy runs all the drinking water through and puts in in ozark-style jugs (the filter almost looks just like the one we had). There is a window in the gate, and a guy will take villagers’ containers, and fill them with the cleaned river water – and if there bucket is dirty, exchange that, too. There is also a box with about 20 plugs, and people can just hand their phone & charger through the window, and leave it to charge too.
    • Between the water & the building is a sitting area with benches & a tin roof where about 40 people can wait for the clinic.
    • The clinic is just the bottom floor of a house.

      • The front porch is the final waiting area, with a scale to weigh people on. People check in at the window to the front room of the house – where they have file cabinets with all 100,000+ files. They pay about $1 for their visit, then get assigned to a nurse who will do their visit – 2 general nurses, a nurse for wound care, and a nurse for women’s health/prenatal.
      • Each of these nurses has a small room in the house.
      • The file system is really smart. Each person gets a note card with a # the first time they come to the clinic (equivalent to their insurance card) so this number keeps track of how many people have come since 1998. The people keep this card when they leave. In the morning on Tues, Wed, Thurs, people line up outside the gate super early in the morning (there were people there when we arrived on Monday evening). At 6am, Placeholder #‘s are passed out, and File #’s are picked up – so 1st person in line is given “1” and hands over their notecard so their medical record can be pulled (if they have been there before). This way, they know how many people from around Cazale have been treated at the clinic total (104,000+), and how many they see each day (today: 375).
      • The back room of the house is the medication room, where common medicines are put in little baggies with the prescribed amount of pills, and dots to communicate to the mostly non-literate people how many times to take it (3 dots = 3x/day). SO SMART!
    • The top floor of that house (clinic) is Licia, Enoch & their 3 boys 2-bedroom apartment.
  • The Rescue Center is another building 2 buildings away.
    It is a building with:

    a small courtyard/porch for feeding kids,
    a long-skinny room for the babies, and
    a large, open room for the non-babies. In this room, there are 2 bunkbeds, that a few kids were resting on, but most of the kids hang out on 3 areas that have inter-locking squishy squares covered by a sheet probably 10′×12′. It is very basic.
    The routine over there is to feed all 60 kids in the morning, give them a bath, then hang out til lunch, feed them all again,
    bath them all again with diaper changes, hang out til dinner, feed them all again, and sleep.

    We are totally free to play with the kids, take them back to the clinic/house compound, let them eat with us, help feed them there, or whatever.
    When we got there today, within 30 secs, Karen was carrying a kid.
    Then I sat down with one, and was immediately covered with 6 kids. They don’t talk or cry, just reach up, or just climb on your lap.
    Amanda found a little guy pretty quickly who has some sort of tremor on his left side and is pretty sick, and she hasn’t put him down yet. His name is Ojean.
    When we left after this first visit, she took him with her, and Karen and I brought along a 3-year old, Rose Marie.

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One response to “Cazale, Haiti: Day 1

  1. Great work! Can’t wait to hear more. You are truly touching their lives.

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