Haiti: "People Are Genuinely Kind And Generous"
Story From a STOP Team Volunteer in the Field
“The voice from the tropics is back! I'm recuperating from three grueling but very rewarding weeks in the south of Haiti.
I arrived there with a group of four WHO consultants (an Algerian doctor and three Haitian nurses) to find a vaccination campaign that was supposedly finished but had covered only 30% of the target population. We paired up with two local nurses, worked 12 hours a day, six days a week, and I'm proud to say that we were able to reach over 100% of the children! (There has been a serious underestimation of all age groups because there hasn't been a national census here since 1982 and the population growth has greatly surpassed anything any of us imagined.) I spent most of my time evaluating vaccination coverage and planning the revaccination of areas with low coverage. Now, I am back in Port-au-Prince where I am analyzing data, writing reports, and trying to find a wheelchair for the little girl with polio I visited while in Delmas.
The Département du Sud is beautiful; truly another Haiti as compared to Port-au-Prince. It is very green and lush, with rolling hills, rocky roads, numerous rivers and beautiful vistas of the Caribbean Sea. I had the opportunity to perfect my Creole (Kombien timoun gen nan kay la? Tout timou té vacsiné kont maladi polio?) as few people understand French. The level of education is very low and families are large. I could spend ten minutes sitting in someone's yard trying to figure out how many kids lived there. Often, parents (especially dads) couldn't recall the number of children they had or how old they were. But the people were genuinely kind and generous. I left houses with small piles of mangos or avocados under my arm or would slurp down coconut milk from a freshly plucked coconut people would offer (a surprisingly refreshing and rehydrating drink, perfect for this hot and clammy climate). They were extremely curious about me, the blanc with the funny hat and thermos in hand. Often, half a dozen kids would gather round us when we went into homes and followed us around for the next two hours.