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Hammersonhaiti

Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th

Tuesday 14th

This morning we all went to help an English lady called Hannah, who works for the Cap Haitian Health Network. She’d been sent some donated medical and drug supplies and she needed them sorting into order and itemised. We turned up to a not-very-large, airless and dimly lit room, stacked with cardboard boxes, and began the long and painful process of getting the contents into some kind of recognisable order. The next four hours were spent sorting through catheters, syringes and latex gloves, which possibly sounds more fun than the actual reality. It was extremely hot work and seemed to be going nowhere, so that in time patience was wearing a bit thin and we were probably the closest we’d ever been to frayed tempers. Just as we thought we’d all had enough and we were getting nowhere, order seemed to materialise out of the chaos and the job was done.

We then had to wait for our lift back to the village and, when that arrived, we then went searching for our lunch which seemed to be in transit somewhere between our accommodation and the hospital. We finally gave up on non-essentials like eating and got back to the serious business of painting Humpty Dumpty in the paediatric ward. Apparently, there was a lack of enthusiasm from the patients for Stuart’s and Colin’s daily sporting activities (due to hot weather) and so the boys came and joined us and engaged their more ‘artistic’ sides. There were some different techniques on display, but, with luck, you might get a chance to take a look if we ever manage to get our presentation together about Haiti. One to look forward to!

Wednesday 15th

We hadn’t exactly been looking forward to this day, ever since we arrived – we were going to visit Shada, which is one of the worst slums in the area. This was yet another painting project as we were going to decorate a small hut for a Lady called Madame Bwa, who wants to start a vocational training centre for the most deprived teenagers. There is a high level of teenage pregnancy and prostitution amongst the young in the slums and Madame Bwa wants to encourage them to get skills and decent jobs.

We were dropped off by the river, which was the colour of sewage and covered in oily looking slime. It’s banks were covered in discarded rubbish and the whole place smelled awful. We had to make our way down some tiny alleyways between shacks of wood, corrugated iron and crumbling concrete. Whole families live in one room, without electricity or running water and there are open sewers that you have to jump over. Everyone stared, as we obviously made a pretty unusual sight, and shouted Blan (white) after us – just a tiny bit discomforting.

The hut we were working on was dark and there was rubble on the floor, which made things tricky from the start. The paint – like all Haitian paint – was the consistency of water and wall coverage was definitely minimal. Things took more of a downturn when we spotted a large spider lurking in one corner. Then Emma managed to disturb a nest of spiders that she said were spotted orange and poisonous – only they were orange because she’d managed to cover them in paint. Then one of the locals had to take over as nobody fancied taking on that particular corner of the room anymore. We then had a massive cockroach climbing up the wall and decided this was more wildlife than any of us really needed.

We finally ran out of paint and had to call it quits, so we made our way back to the riverside to wait for our lift back. Once again, we found ourselves in Haitian time and had to wait for half an hour for the car to arrive. While we hung around, we found ourselves surrounded by the local children and getting more calls of ‘Blan’.

Everyone was looking forward to having a shower when we got back to the village, only on our return there was no water and our lunch had gone missing for the second day running. The rest of the afternoon was spent painting or doing sports and so ended another day’s work.

We went back to the village for dinner, rum and trapping large spiders (still no shower, though).

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