Monday, May 31, 2010

On having malaria

So, I got malaria. I kind of knew this day would come sooner or later. I've opted not to take the anti-malarial medication that many short-termers take when visiting a country like Haiti. When you get malaria, you just have to take those drugs anyways to treat it.

It started last Sunday morning when I woke up with a severe headache and muscle aches. At first, we thought it was just extreme dehydration, but when I got a fever that evening, Dr. Manno decided it was most likely malaria. He did a blood test for it on Tuesday, however it came back negative as it's only accurate if you take the blood while you have a fever. Anyways, I started taking doxicyclin to treat it and by Wednesday my fever was gone!

So for the past week i've been secluded to my home watching Matlock reruns and a show called Burn Notice (thank goodness the house is hooked up to the clinic generator so we have power during the day). To be honest, I've been going a little nutty. Today is the 2nd time in a week I"ve been out of the house. I tried to come out on Friday, but I got really tired after so decided to wait awhile before I went again.

The Dr has ordered me not to work this week, so sad. But I do need to check on a few things. I'll do my best to rest, I promise!

Friday, May 21, 2010


It feels weird to say it, but it feels like this past week life has been "normal" here. Now, I'm not so sure what normal is supposed to be here, but this last week, I've felt it. Life since the earthquake has made life feel like anything but normal. It was busy and there were always groups here so I didn't feel like I had much routine. But a few things happened this past week that made things normal.

We went to the beach on Sunday and were able to swim and just lay in the sun - normal. The internet in my office was working again - normal. I went into Limbe to the bank one afternoon - normal. We had a nice day in Cap on Tuesday which included going for lunch and eating ice cream afterwards - normal. We spent the evening sitting in the living room, in the dark, talking and laughing together - normal.

All these things combined together made life feel normal here, and it feels good.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

On learning Creole

Before I came to Haiti I was both excited and nervous about learning Creole. In University I took a year of Spanish as I had thought I would end up in a Spanish speaking country - that didn't quite work out. When I first got here, every time I tried to communicate, I started speaking Spanish, because when one goes to a country that speaks a different language it just seems natural to speak the other language that you know, even if it's completely different. (This happened to me when I was on vacation in the DR last week - I kept trying to speak Creole in a Spanish speaking country).

Anyways, language learning can be incredibly frustrating and rewarding at the same time. I hired a private tutor within a couple weeks of getting here to have one hour classes 5 times a week. I seemed to be making acceptable progress during the first month, but then I seemed to hit a wall. It was so frustrating, I just couldn't seem to pick stuff up. One of the reasons for this I think was that so many people in this community speak English, and they always want to practice with native English speakers - works for me! I was not forced to use my Creole, there was always a way to get around it.

When the groups started arriving to work this winter, I found out that I actually knew more than I thought as I had to start acting as an interpreter for them. But I would still have times of great frustration as I didn't have the time to study for my classes.

While I was in the DR, I made a promise to myself to be much more intentional about Creole when I got back. So far, it is working. I've been putting the extra time into my homework each day - my teacher has noticed. I've tried to speak only Creole with people who also speak English. I even find myself sometimes thinking in Creole and the words just seem to flow out of my mouth - so encouraging.

So, I'm having fun with Creole. It means so much to Haitians when you make an effort to speak their language. They know that Creole is not a very useful language to learn - no one else in the world speaks it.  But it is their language and its so much a part of their culture. To understand them, one must understand Creole.

So now when people here ask how my Creole is - I answer, "M'ap vini" (I'm coming) and they smile and agree.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Home again

It’s good to be home in Haiti. We arrived back here late Saturday afternoon after a lovely weekend in Santiago to end off our vacation in the D.R.. We were able to get our haircut, do some shopping, go out to dinner and enjoy all modern conveniences for just a little longer.

By last Friday, I was mentally ready to come back here. I was missing my friends and family here and I was excited to get back to work. I even had a renewed desire to study my Creole just a little harder. Being away was good and needed – it made coming back that much more sweeter. I’ve loved walking down the street greeting people who I see everyday and having them be excited that I’m back. It’s good to know that you are missed.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

April Update... for real this time

Hey everyone!

So I'm on the 6th day of my vacation here in Puerto Plata and I believe that I am officially relaxed! Quite the accomplishment. The past 4 months have been so busy and overwhelming - it's been nice to have some time away and removed from life in Haiti, even if it is only for a week. It's been good to reacquaint myself with life outside of Haiti - even if I'm just on the other side of the island. It's good to remember what a hot shower feels like, get caught up on some world news, walk down paved streets, drink a glass of water with ice in it, etc.

April began with Easter and a work team of 14 arriving from Strathmore, Alberta. Our house was full, but we were able to squeeze everyone in to a bed. This group had quite a few people who had visited Haut Limbe before, so it was very fun to watch them reacquaint themselves with old friends as well as see all the progress that was made on the hospital. Thanks to some organizing queens, we were able to organize the supplies, once again, onto shelves that had been built in the depot. They were also to complete most of the tiling in the hospital.

While they were here, we "admitted" some of our first patients to the hospital. Very exciting and great that we could care for those who would not normally by able to afford a hospital stay, but it also made us realized that there is a lot of work to do before the hospital is ready to function.

After the Strathmore group left, Shauna and I had a visit from our good friend, Rose. It was so nice to spend a couple weeks with her, showing her our life here and just being able to catch up on news and people from Winnipeg.

What's coming up? Well, when we head back to Haiti on Sunday, we will have one visitor coming with us. A woman who actually did some work at the Clinic last year will be with us for three weeks volunteering. Then in June, I will host another group from the States for a couple of weeks. Right after they leave, I'll be heading home to Canada for over 3 weeks! I'm so excited to come home to see my family, friends and take in the Winnipeg Folk Festival! I'll be in Saskatoon, Norquay and Winnipeg, so hopefully I'll be able to connect with a lot of you while I'm there.

Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement.



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

April Update... coming soon!

Hello all!

I'm going to do my April update soon. I promise! This week I'm on vacation in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and I'm enjoying the sun, relaxation, hot showers, electricity, reliable internet, smooth roads, tv, air conditioning, pools, familiar food, etc. This vacation was a gift to Shauna and I, and we are very much appreciating the time away from Haiti to recharge. I'll write more soon. I promise.