Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A typical day in Haiti with the Global Therapy Group

from 12-3-12ish: Each day starts with a 6am wake-up and yoga practice.  Many days I am alone on my mat on the porch of the guesthouse and other mornings I join a small group private session in a lovely garden yard with flowering trees and a lovely landscaped yard.  Such a powerful way to start each day. Breathing and stretching mindfully in the warm early morning Haitian air.  Watching the sun rise over the mountains lifted my heart with the reminder of the fresh hope each new day brings. 

After yoga it's breakfast and a welcome cold shower to move the day into 'work mode'. Abner the driver comes at 8:30am to take us to the physical therapy clinic.  The distance is only 3 or 4 miles and the ride takes 30-60 minutes depending on traffic.  We wend our way through the wobbly, rocky and pothole filled streets through the hills gazing out the windows and into the nooks and crannies of Haitian life on the streets. 

We arrive at the clinic between 9-9:30am with typically 6-10 patients waiting outside.  They are lined up on uneven concrete sitting in the wheelchair seats that form the modified  ‘waiting room’.

By the time we arrive the Haitian PT assistant and clinic manager have gotten the early patients all signed in and taken their blood pressure.  Many patients have had strokes, and each day we see at least one or two people who are dealing with an injury from the 2010 earthquake.  Most often they have an arm or leg that was trapped underneath rubble and now need PT to help them establish better movement and use.

We look through the lists and the patient records and decide who should see which patients.  Each day I worked with 2-3 patients, mostly people who have been coming for a while and have exercises that a PT has already prescribed.

It is immensely rewarding to work with people who are committed to improving their physical well-being.  People willing to stare adversity in the face and give it what they have to make it better.  I mostly did typical PT exercises and added in breathing and yoga type stretches as I can.   I had fun playing with my French and Creole trying to get the patients to do the exercises.  Of course rhe Haitian clinic staff are there to translate as needed luckily! 

By 2:30pm we leave the clinic and make our way home.  Some days the driver picks us up and we often drive to pick up the children of our host family from school.  The ride home can sometimes be two hours, depending on traffic.   Many days we leave the clinic on our own and venture through the streets of Petion-ville seeing what we can see.  We stop and buy fruit from the market ladies and talk with the school kids who say things like, “Blan give me dollar.” We don’t give them money but we do smile and laugh, doing our best to make small talk in Creole. 

We arrive back at the guest house anywhere between 3:30 and 5:00 to a yummy dinner of rice ,beans, a salad and some type of meat.  When we are done eating, we have some quiet time reading, stretching, checking email etc.  When the family members come home they usually stop and say hi and we chat about life and share stories from our day and our lives.

It’s awesome.  I am as happy as  a clam here in Haiti so far. The routine will change next week as I transition from the Phsyical Therapy clinic to the Project Zen Yoga Studio.  I am so excited to work with them next week, teaching 5-8 classes,mentoring some newer teachers, and helping with a marketing and outreach plan.