Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday morning in Haiti

I'm grateful I have a foam mattress.

Yesterday the director of FFP Haiti got a call from one of the hospitals. They are in desperate need of mattresses for patients who have had surgery. They've had so many patients that they have to lie on cardboard on the floor right after surgery. There are no beds. Kareen sent all the hospital beds we had in the warehouse, but it's not enough. She's looking into getting more.

"Can you imagine having surgery and then having to lie on the hard ground after?" she asked me. The thought really bothered her.

It bothers me as well, and I feel slightly guilty about the mattress I have at the office for sleeping. I know it will go right to a hospital when I leave. I'm thinking, "Ok, how can I sleep on a mattress when there is someone in a hospital who needs it more than me?"

Then I go back to being pragmatic, which I've had to be since I arrived here. If I sleep on the floor, I won't sleep and I'll be useless when it comes to doing my job while I'm here. My job is to find out what's going on, get stories of what people need and raise money so that not just one person can have a mattress to sleep on after they've had painful surgery, but everyone can have a mattress.

I'm sleeping at the office mainly because it has internet, and I'm updating the FFP blog as I can, when the internet works. Also since it's our operational center, I'm right here where the action is.

Every night, we drag the two mattresses from their storage place, set them on the floor of two offices, and pull out the blankets and sheets after rearranging the furniture. We use towels for pillows, though I found a pillow an employee uses for back support, and covered it with an FFP tee shirt as a pillowcase. I slept better last night, not any neck problems this a.m. At night the sound of C130's and C5's drone overhead as they make their way into the airport, which is about a couple of miles from the office. I told Ben this morning that I'm so accustomed to the sound of the generator running all night that it will be hard to sleep in the quiet when I get home.

We are supposed to visit a hospital downtown tomorrow. Right now FFP is going to supply free oxgyen to all hospitals in need, and man, there are plenty. One of our employees who had set up water tanks in a few of the tent cities made the rounds at the hospitals to ask about their O2 needs. He told us the hospitals downtown are pretty bad, so that's where we are going. Ben and the guys had already visited one hospital, but we need to see another.

Cite Soleil yesterday was very uplifting for me. Only two of the approximately 250 homes we built were damaged. The rest are all fine. Our school is fine as well. But there is still fear etched on the faces of the people. They are afraid to sleep inside because of the aftershocks. The photo of the tent on the street is one such case.

I must confess I haven't felt any aftershocks, though there were two yesterday. Maybe it's because I was probably in the truck at the time. I don't know. Not that I want to feel any. Ben told me the morning of the biggest one, the nearly 6.0, he and the guys ran out of the offices but Tom, our video guy, opened the wrong door and ran out towards the courtyard.

So Ben made sure to point out to me the exit when I arrived. I feel perfectly safe sleeping here. I have Nessie as well, the dino that Debi, one of our editors, brought me from Scotland. I decided to make her into traveling Nessie. I brought her into Cite Soleil and today I'll photograph her when we visit our orphanages.

Nessie is a big, bad Scottish monster. She's my good mojo. I photographed her at our school in Cite Soleil and one of the Cite Soleil tents.

They are still finding and burying bodies. Not to be crude, but the deal is you pay about $125 per body. The guys doing the recovery retrieve the body from the rubble, then find a crypt and just shove the body inside. It's bargaining, Haitian style, just like everything else. What else can you do when there are an estimated 200,000 dead and not enough crypts?

Last night I dreamt last night of tornadoes, not earthquakes. Go figure. Doesn't make sense, but does anything now in this wrecked, recovering city that is still trying to bury the dead?

1 comment:

Gillian Layne said...

Glad you are able to post, Bonnie. Thank you for the updates. We continue to pray for you and all of them.