Today’s blog post was written by GHF Wyatt Miller, Class of 2016. Internet access was off and on last night, so this post accounts for yesterday, June 9.
We arrived in Haiti at noon after waking up in the United States at three in the morning to get to the airport. Looking down on the country as our plane landed brought back memories of last year. In 2012, Haiti brought us our first global health experience in the developing world. Last year we toured hospitals in Port-au-Prince, Cange, Mirebalais, and Hinche and visited with organizations based in Port-au-Prince and Hinche, as well. Though we will not be staying in Port-au-Prince this year, we did get the chance to marvel at how much the airport has changed.
The airport used to be more of a giant warehouse with a free-for-all baggage claim; but recent renovations in December have turned it into a much more modern airport. It was entertaining to watch Mr. Doar being “helped” by the airport porters to our van.
The next part of our trip brought us on our three-hour road trip to Hinche where we will remain for the rest of the stay. On the road we first passed by the Mirebalais hospital, which we visited last year. Last year it had not yet begun receiving patients, but now the hospital is beginning to open up all of its services. Our tour of Partner in Health‘s hospital in Mirebalais, led by PIH staff member Annie McDonough, revealed the completed facility and newly equipped rooms, which, when fully opened, will be arguably the best hospital in the Caribbean. We even got to speak with two ER doctors from PIH who have been hard at work preparing the ER for its opening in just a few weeks. Once the hospital is fully operating, it will have 6 operating rooms running, will employ 1000 people (175 of which are community health workers), will have three residency training programs (family medicine, surgery, and ob/gyn) and will be the largest hospital in the world run solely on solar electricity. What an amazing and truly inspirational facility!
After progressing out of Mirebalais and back onto the road, we traveled to the Zanmi Lasante hospital in Cange. In Cange, we toured the oncology ward, which proved interesting especially for Elizabeth since her project centered around cancer in the developing world. After touring the oncology ward, we climbed up a steep hill to a small circle where we had the most amazing view. On top of this hill we met a few Haitian children with whom we attempted to converse in Creole, which was a welcome break from driving in the van. We unfortunately had to leave both the incredible view and the local children so that we could get to Midwives for Haiti, in Hinche. After reconnecting with in-country coordinator Carrie, we ate a delicious dinner and discussed each of our goals for our projects. To finish our long, interesting, first day in Haiti we all shared our highlights for the day.
Highlights of the Day:
Aneesh: Realizing the progress PIH has made by comparing the hospital at Cange with the hospital at Mirebalais.
Wyatt: Hiking up a hill at Zanmi Lasante’s hospital in Cange and taking pictures with Haitian children while attempting to communicate in Creole with them. Communication is one of the hardest things to master, but it is also one of the most rewarding.
Brian: Observing all of Haiti’s improvements since last year including the Mirebalais hospital and the reduction of residence in the tent cities, which shocked me as we drove by.
Bridget: Seeing the difference in the Mirebalais hospital–how far it has come and the impact it will have when it opens fully in a few months.
Stuart: Seeing the hospital in Mirebalais and the progress it has made since last summer. I’m really excited about how much hope it offers Haiti.
Elizabeth: Finally making use of my French with the students at Cange.