Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tu as un boun-boun?

It's hard to believe I’ve been here for 9 days already.   The first week here I enjoyed a  good digital break. The wifi wasn’t consistent so I took advantage and hardly used the computer at all.  This week I've reconnected and am ready to share the trip with you.

So much and so little has happened.

Everyday is an adventure and everyday is mundane. It feels like many of the stories can get lost in translation.  How do you share a country and a people with words on a computer screen?

I guess through stories, so here is one:

The other day we were on our way home in a tap-tap, a pick-up truck converted into colorful and packed public transportation, and one of the volunteers decided to give her Creole a try.

She asked a little boy who was eating candy: "Tu as un boun-boun?" The little boy didn't answer.  She immediately looked at me and said, "I think I just used the wrong word for candy."

She took out her Creole dictionary and pointed to the definition boun-boun = vagina.  She just asked the little boy. "Do you have a vagina?"  Luckily he didn't understand anyway- but oh my did we have a good laugh.

The days are filled with funny culture-gone-awry and experiences such as that.  But they are also filled with the reality of the tough life in Haiti.

Two days ago at the Global Therapy Clinic we saw a little girl named Evaline who had just had her first birthday.

She was in very bad shape, incoherent, no grasp reflex, no eye contact and real sense of awareness of her surroundings. The PT's did an assessment of function, she was clearly disabled. But we were trying to understand to what extent and what we might be able to do to help.

As they did their assessment and asked more questions it became clear there was something more going on with the little girl. She was sick, very sick.

We told the father he needed to take her to a hospital right away. One of the PT's wrote a referral form to the free hospital nearby. They left and we hoped with all of our hearts they would take her.  We called the next day and they had gone to the hospital and Evaline had Cholera.  Please send her your prayers and love.

Today, Louise the PT from Sweden, worked with a little boy named Andy who was stuck under a building for hours in the 2010 earthquake. He suffered brain damage and damage to his left arm and leg.  He smiles and plays and is an amazing testament to the strength and will of the Haitian people.  He had been in last week and Madge made him a brace to help his arm, and today Louise confirmed that it is helping and created clever games to help him improve his strength and coordination.  You can donate to Global Therapy Group here to facilitate more great work like this.

This is the Haiti I am experiencing. A gorgeous vibrant country filled with amazing and resilient people. And little girls who are close to dying of a totally preventable disease and little boys who are doing the best they can.

I am honored and happy to be here on purpose.

Tommorrow is my last day at the Physical Therapy Clinic.  Next week I am teaching classes at the Project Zen Yoga Studio and helping them with teacher mentoring and marketing and outreach planning. So excited!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

setting off on a journey of exploration

This trip to Haiti is so much different than the last one, and it is so much the same.
...last time I went for 6 days, this time I am going for 3 weeks.  
...last time the country had recently been shaken up by a catastrophic earthquake, this time they have recently been doused by the edges of a hurricane. 
...last time cholera had just broken into an epidemic, and the first elections were being held.  This time cholera is somewhat under control and the current government has been in rule for 2 years. 
...last time I went to simply bear witness, and this time bearing witness is only one part of my plan. I have a longer time and more opportunity to explore. 
Over the next three weeks I plan to explore Haiti, her people, and her story.  I also plan to explore myself and my own journey.  I plan to be in Haiti On Purpose.

On Purpose to me means starting everyday with the Ashtanga primary series and a morning mindfulness meditation.  On Purpose means that I will honor the beauty of each moment and each individual I encounter. Doing my best to experience each moment and individual for what it is and who they are, rather than what I think it or they should be. I'll be volunteering with Global Therapy Project, Haiti-Communitiere and Off the Mat Into the World.

I look forward to sharing my reflections of this journey with you.