Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gordy and I have been holed up for two days this weekend at the staff house writing our needs assessment report and now at 6:45 Sunday night I am finally coming up for air. As is always the case for me in writing reports, grants or proposals, the fight is not about plowing through the job , it's my fight with the computer. I lost 3 hours of work I know I saved on a flash drive, spent two hours trying to recover it, and another two hours re-creating it. Gordy has the same problem with the computer so I am very relieved it's almost done.
Yesterday did have a little break when we went to one of our Haitian partners ngo's to watch them do clown practice. Kids that were walking around aimlessly on the streets were recruited to learn how to be clown actors who go all over doing public service messages about hygeine and psychosocial issues. They go into the camps as well now and we are going to try to do an intergenerational project with kids and older people and the clowns. What would be really great is to train some of the older people to be clowns. They have nothing to do and it would give them a way to contribute.
We present our report to the HelpAge staff tomorrow morning and after that to ngo's. Then it's off to the airport and home through an overnight in Miami. My head was spinning with so many possibilities I couldn't sleep much at all last night, and unfortunately I still am not sleepy. Everyone here that I have run into at the ngo's just works all the time. I think it is too hard not to. You look at all the devastation around you and you just want to help. Another reason is that working a lot helps. It is a distraction in a place that is so unsafe you can't go anywhere without a driver and a translator and they are only available for work. There are some nice restaurants that we have gone to a few nights- our whole team- but is always tinged by a huge camp right next to it and the disparity is pretty hard to swallow. I was hoping to get together with Mike, Marilyn's friend one more time tonight, but no driver for either of us and Mike has clearly instructed his staff that it is absolutely unsafe for anyone to drive alone on the Rue des Freres that is right next to us that allows access anywhere. It has been weird to get absolutely no exercise for this long as it is unsafe to go out on the street even in our gated neighborhood. We have an armed guard right outside the house 24-7, so I feel really safe at the house. This weekend 3 of us have been on the computer the whole time. Lance , the logistics officer is working on his computer at the table as Gordy and I do just working away. Ndaro, our Health director from Tanzania is an Adventist, so he didnt work on Saturday. It was nice to see but I know he misses his wife and young daughters so far away. We talked for quite a while last night. He has great wishes for what he wants to accomplish as a public health doc here in Haiti. I am glad to see that he allows his religion to make him stop one day a week. It would be so easy to run yourself into the ground here. The need is like a sinkhole that takes you with it and the only way to survive the force of it is to fight back with work. Nobody here at the house drinks either, which is good- you could get into trouble if that was your comfort. I think many here are on a spiritual mission which drives us with a level of energy that is quite something. It is strangely not emotional. It will be hard and odd to leave tomorrow, and I am sure I will be back.


  1. Just amazing to live vicariously through your words and descriptions, Stephy. I do want to say how deeply moved I am by your presence and witnessing of it all.

    I have just had an image of a line of colorfully dressed Haitian grandmothers-as-clowns singing a song about trauma, the body, releasing, settling. Clapping, smiling, singing in rhythmic patterns, in their language. Sending love and blessings to you all.


  2. Stephy, Thank you for having the courage to go on this deeply moving journey and for touching our hearts with your experiences.
    Veronica (your new tenant)