Haiti Day Two: Class of 2017

Today’s blog post was written by Helen Shaves (the first half)

and Ryan Fulmer (the second half).

Our day started off with a trip to Clory, a small village located 30 minutes outside of Hinche. The streets running through Hinche are mostly all dirt and are quite muddy during the rainy season. We ended up having to drive through two (small) rivers to arrive at the hill leading up to Clory. We hiked up the rest of the way, about a 20-minute climb that offered us a great glimpse into life in the countryside.

Hiking up to Clory.

Hiking up to Clory.

Once we finally reached the school of Clory, Theard, one of the two men who started the school, showed us around. The school had been built only a little over a year ago, making things much more convenient for the girls and boys who previously had to walk upwards of two hours to attend school. The main building contained four classrooms, each with 8 benches and its own chalkboard. The school also included an office and a storage room where the ceramics that the students had created earlier that year were being kept. It was pretty impressive as buildings go in Haiti – it looked well built and was large enough to hold plenty of classes for local students.

Stuart's women's empowerment curriculum in action in Clory.

Stuart’s women’s empowerment curriculum in action in Clory.

We waited awhile for all of the girls to show up for one of the lessons in Stuart’s (GHF ’16) women’s empowerment curriculum – a lesson on character-building and exhibiting good behavior and habits. It was very interesting to see Stuart’s lessons in action and to realize the dramatically positive effects that it could have on children’s lives, in this community and beyond.

The two women who led the lesson were students from Midwives for Haiti’s midwifery class who are fulfilling their community outreach requirements. Today they discussed both good and bad behavior, had the girls interact by providing examples of each, and finished off the lesson with a skit in which three of the girls demonstrated good and bad behavior towards someone in need. Gladias translated for us. I was extremely impressed just by the pure idea and commitment that went into creating such an improvement in the local children’s lives, both educationally and physically (in terms of walking distance).

Listening to Stuart's women's empowerment lesson in Clory.

Listening to Stuart’s women’s empowerment lesson in Clory.

Outside the school in Clory with the girls who attended the women's empowerment workshop.

Outside the school in Clory with the girls who attended the women’s empowerment workshop.

After finishing off with a prayer sung by the beautiful voices of the Haitian women and girls and some group pictures, we continued our hike farther up the hill to a gorgeous 360˚ view of the area.

Ryan Fulmer and Graham Barbour in Clory.

Ryan Fulmer and Graham Barbour in Clory.

(The following was written by Ryan Fulmer.)

After our visit to Clory, we arrived back to the MFH house to find many of the midwifery students congregated outside. We headed inside for a few minutes, grabbed a quick snack, and then all of the midwifery students headed inside for case study.  We were lucky enough to get to sit in on the discussion, and even more lucky to have translators to tell us what was going on.

Listening to the student midwives' case study.

Listening to the student midwives’ case study.

The main case of the day was about a baby that was only 29 weeks old when it was delivered, and there was a low likelihood it would survive.  The midwives analyzed the case and luckily, both the mother and baby survived.

After that, we had a hearty vegetable soup for lunch, and then departed for the government hospital down the road, called St. Therese, for a tour by Brittany Tusing, the In-country Coordinator for Midwives for Haiti, and Emily Dally, the Curriculum and Training Specialist for Partners in Health. I have to admit, the hospital definitely didn’t live up to its counterparts in Cange and Mirebalais, and that reality is mostly due to the lack of funding and capacity the government has to run the hospital.

The wards were cramped, and there were multiple mothers who had just gotten out of C-sections all laying in the same small, hot room. There were even chickens wandering around the outdoor hallways. With no personal space in the rooms and nonexistent privacy, this hospital was far from anything one could see in the US. A very different sight!

The saddest part of the tour was the fact that so many people die in this hospital because of easily preventable reasons. Because of low access to simple things like oxygen or pumps, an incredible number of babies die every year. In this hospital alone, at least one baby dies every week. Much of this reality stems from lack of resources.

Touring St. Therese hospital in Hinche.

Touring St. Therese hospital in Hinche.

Although I was somewhat disappointed in the quality of the care in the hospital, it made me feel better to know that programs like Midwives for Haiti exist. In the program, there would be better training for midwives, which will hopefully one day lead to less and less infant and maternal mortality over time.

Creole lesson with Kelby.

Creole lesson with Kelby.

Once we got back to the house after the tour, we had a very fun Creole lesson. Although we aren’t quite Creole masters yet, we did learn a lot of phrases that will quickly come into use as we travel to different places. We learned phrases like “kijan ou ye”, which means “how are you” or “kiko ou sóte”, which means “where are you from.”  I was glad to have the opportunity to learn some Creole because I can now have some degree of communication with the Haitians.

Although the day was exhausting, we went straight to playing soccer in the courtyard at the house. It was exciting because not only did the Haitians at the house enjoy watching us, but two of them ended up joining us for a small 3 on 3 game.

Soccer time at the MFH house.

Soccer time at the MFH house.

An hour and a half of soccer later, we finally came in the house to rest and have dinner. We talked about all of the fun and memorable experiences of the day, and as I ate I continued to think about how much better the medical care here could be. I was shocked after seeing the hospital, and hopefully everyone else in the group is just as inspired as I am to truly make a difference here one day. There is always something that can be done here, and anywhere, to improve and better the community around us. 

 We had quite a jam-packed day, however the group is more excited than ever to continue our experience and see what the global health world is all about. Tomorrow will be another exciting day!


Highlights of the Day:

Graham Barbour: Visiting St. Therese hospital in Hinche.

Nathalie Danso: Hiking to the school in Clory.

Ryan Fulmer: Playing soccer with the Haitians before dinner.

Justine Kaskel: Hiking up the hill to the school in Clory, despite the mud, grime, and sweat, the view was amazing.

Helen Shaves: Listening to Gladias’ translations of the midwives’ case study we attended.

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