Here we go again.
Friday, January 27, 2011
The trip, the planning, and the ball in the pit of my stomach have all returned. It’s almost surreal that this trip is actually getting started. In fact, I don’t think that I’ve convinced myself that this trip will get completed, as so much seems to be getting in the way.
You know the history- my trip was cancelled because of civil unrest due to the election. We decided to book this trip just when things seemed to calm down. Of course, that’s when the unexpected happened. Baby Doc returned to Haiti- uninvited and unexpected.
Baby Doc was a Haiti dictator before he was exiled 25 years ago. Under his rule, an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Haitians were starved, tortured and killed. Hundreds of millions of dollars went missing from the Haitian gov’t- presumably into Baby Doc’s personal bank accounts.
While there are many theories circulating about why he came back, no one is certain. Baby Doc claims that he just wants to help the Haitian people, but I find that hard to believe. Why, after years of torture, would he chose to help now? Anyways, we watched the news for a few days and surprisingly, all seemed to be ok on the safety front.
Then the last exiled dictator, Aristade, started saying he wanted to come back to Haiti too. AUGH! Luckily, he has yet to actually enter Haiti, so we should be good. As I sit at the gate for my Miami leg, everything is calm and there is no word of rioting, roadblocks or anything crazy. Not to say it couldn’t start in the next week…
Don’t worry though. We will be safe. If the roads get dangerous, we stay put. Plain and simple. If it means we don’t get to the airport for a week, so be it. The roads are the most dangerous place during civil unrest and we will avoid them at all cost, if need be.
Wednesday night, we dodged another curveball. We received word from Cecily (our trauma surgeon and medical leader for the trip) that the original organization we were going to stay at wasn’t sure there was enough work for us to do for the week and suggested we looked into a new place to stay, where our abilities would be best utilized. It’s actually a very good thing. The experienced doctors and nurses have done such a great job educating the Haitian doctors and nurses, that they are now running the show with minimal support from outsiders! What more could we ask for! Teach a man to fish...
I was working an exceptionally crazy shift when I found out, so kind of panicked. I should have known that NRI was a group of extraordinary people and we soon found a new place to stay. And it only gets better-our new accommodations include a real bed, running water, wi-fi and even air conditioning! So our new plan is to spend a few days in the original location, then move to HERnow for the remainder of our trip.
Of course, this means our work is going to change a little bit too. After we move from the tent city, we will start traveling and setting up mobile clinics.
So after all this planning and re-planning, I think I’m hesitant to let myself believe this trip is gonna happen. But I think after hauling my super-stuffed oversized backpack through a few airports, flying a red-eye to MIA then attempting to sleep at the gate during my 7 hour layover, reality should smack me in the face soon!
So barring any flight delays, I’m signing off for a bit. With any luck, my next entry will come to you from Haiti!