.The shocker was arriving in Bellville where the Helpage staff house and office are located. It is like a wealthy development that didn't get touched by the earthquake. The houses are stucco and have white tile floors. They are not fancy and are still very hot, but compared to all else here are totally palatial. We are right next to Petionville where Sean Penn works with a tented city of 55,000 people sitting on an old golf course. There are 2 Haitian ladies here at the staff house that make lunch for the staff during the week. Everyone is on their own for food the rest of the time. The lunch was good- some kind of mushroom ragu rice and homemade pizza.The staff is friendly- a finance woman from France, a program coordinator from Germany and the health coordinator who we are working with, Ndaro is from Tanzania. Ndaro has just been here a month and is awesome. We met with him and Steve, the new Haitian psychosocial coordinator hired last week, and our 2 drivers/translators, Herby and Fabius. Everyone is so respectful and commited to empowering local nationals to help themselves. We spent hours talking philosophy about empowerment of people who are dealing with poverty and disaster. We reviewed our plan of the week which is to visit as many as 6 of the tented cities, or camps, that Helpage is working in to listen to the experiences of camp mangement, health care providers and older person beneficiaries and begin to put together a training plan. So it all really begins tomorrow. I have my DEET, mosquito netting , local cell phone and wonderful Helpage staff companions here really commited to making this experience safe and hopefully productive. Just feel like I have to put my head down ask for blessing and forge ahead!
Monday, August 9, 2010
Arrived in Port au Prince without a glitch this morning flying in with Gordy Dodge, the veteran disaster psychologist that I am doing the needs assessment with . The Port au Prince airport is barely put together in a torn apart hangar with incomplete outer walls. It is hot- a very humid 100 degrees with of course no air conditioning. The HelpAge driver Fabius drove us through PAP on one (the only one) very pot-holed road, teeming with people on either side slightly trying to sell rotton looking street food and paintings done on cloth, little kids coming up to the car asking for money, many others hanging out looking very lethargic. It was pretty grim. We drove for about an hour in a ton of traffic passing lots of rubble interspersed with three or four new building sites and the rest tiny small store shanties, most of which were not open for business.