Our final full day here was filled with moments that offer us hope for the future of Haiti. We headed across the Guayamouc River to the village of Fort Resolu, a large settlement of 6,000 individuals, several who arrived in the aftermath of the earthquake to live with their extended families. At the top of a hill overlooking the expansive village stands a church, a school, and an administrative office for the village leaders. The primary school is merely a series of three open-air “rooms” protected from the elements by a flat tin roof and simple tarps as walls. 7 volunteer teachers instruct 150 students in that space.
In one of the “classrooms,” we joined a matron (traditional birth attendant) workshop organized by the village president, Mr. Joseph Ewins, and directed by very knowledgeable Midwives for Haiti’s instructor Jeannette. About 25 women and men from surrounding villages convene every Saturday morning for this series of comprehensive maternal and child health workshops. Today’s topic focused on family planning, and it was fascinating to hear some of the misconceptions held by some of the matrons. In a remote village, a matron is many times the only “skilled” birth attendant available during the common at-home birth. It was highly encouraging to witness accurate information being disseminated to these volunteer community health workers, and the power of education as intricately tied to quality healthcare delivery was as evident as ever.
Following the matron workshop, we were introduced to members of the Fort Resolu community who had been deemed recipients of the Lifesaver water filters we brought down with us. Unfortunately, a large shipment of the jerry cans has been stuck in customs for the past two months so we were unable to distribute all that we had planned. Once they clear customs, about 40 more filters will make their way to this community through a group from EVMS.
After a cold drink in the administrative office, we headed out into the village to see the water filters previously donated by EVMS in action. Each home we visited, while humble in size and material belongings, was immaculately clean and well kept. The Lifesaver jerry cans stood prominently in their homes, and they were more than willing to answer our questions regarding the water filters: How often did they use them? Had anyone in their family been sick since they started using the filter? What, if any, problems had they encountered with the filter? How many people were using the filter? When we heard that 6 individuals in this community had died from cholera within the last six months, the significance of these filters really hit home. While a more permanent system is definitely necessary to alleviate the water security issues this (and so many other) villages in Haiti face, these water filters are the perfect temporary solution in the interim as they provide immediate, point-of-source filtration.
After lunch, we headed back to Maison Fortuné to spend some more time with our new friends. Competitive games of soccer and basketball filled the afternoon before gathering for a final cross-cultural chat. Brother Mike and three of the oldest boys of the orphanage sat down to talk with us about growing up at the orphanage, their schooling experiences, and their hopes and dreams for their own futures and the future of Haiti.
Tomorrow morning, we’re planning to rise early and watch our last sunrise in Haiti together as a group. We will help out with the community English class at Maison Fortuné and then head to the airport in Port-au-Prince for our afternoon flight back to the States. Mesi anpil (“thank you very much”) for following along on our journey with us this week. The real work now begins!
Brian’s Highlight of the Day: Saying our final goodbyes to the kids at the orphanage who have become our friends.
Bridget’s Highlight of the Day: Seeing the happiness on Mr. Joseph’s face when we brought all the donations for Fort Resolu.
Elizabeth’s Highlight of the Day: Distributing Lifesaver jerry cans at Fort Resolu.
Stuart’s Highlight of the Day: 1) Epic soccer game. 2) Seeing the school at Fort Resolu and learning we might be able to redesign it. 3). Getting the girls to play soccer with the boys at Maison Fortune.
Wyatt’s Highlight of the Day: Having a discussion with three Haitian kids about their school experience and comparing the differences and similarities to my own.