A Life Less Ordinary : A Call to Prayer:
Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines!
Ding, daing, dong. Ding, daing, dong.The song is traditionally translated into English as:Brother John, Brother John,
Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?
Morning bells are ringing! Morning bells are ringing!
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.I have to say that I was not surprised. Princess, I knew it was you, no longer as a little baby with your knowing grin, but as someone with infinite wisdom in a real good place, and you were assuring me that you were fine. And you were also telling me that you understood that we are humans and forgave us for our very slow and bumbling pace in Haiti trying to save your life. The morning bells are ringing indeed and we need to do better.Princess, you touched many of us while you were here. Don’t forget your mom and dad and grandmas and your three-year-old adopted brother Prince and any other brothers and sisters who decide to come. They and all the rest of us will always need your help.Bye for now.Dr. Johnwww.haitianhearts.org
I am on a quick trip to 'Merica take a (1 of 2) midwifery test and see my big girls and pick up Hope to bring back to Ayiti. I've been here very few hours and have enjoyed two hot water events. I'm nervous and anxious and happy and also a bit sad to be here while the Maternity Center is facing big hurts. (See Chikungunya posts.)
Pretty much the usual amplified feels tortured soul routine. I don't often stray from it.
Six minutes in the USA and I managed to annoy an American.
Why why WHY do those U.S. Customs/Border Patrol people hate everyone so terribly much?
Their training MUST include something about growing an impassioned disdain for the human race. Here is what happened: I went to that automated passport machine, a newish thing, it flags me to go see a live customs person because I have a hyphenated last name and they tell me that anyone with that, or who is a Jr. or a the third will always get stopped because your airline ticket rarely exactly matches your passport name. If the two last names are there with no hyphen you are flagged as a different person than the passport.
I stood in line like any good American can (sometimes) do. The counter in front of me cleared, the person left. It was straight ahead, only a distance of about six feet. The overhead speaker announces what station is open. However, my adept little eyes saw it was open faster than the lady at the speaker was notified and my foot fell across the yellow line right BEFORE the speaker said, "Agent Four is now available". By the time I took three steps and got to agent four, the whole announcement was out.
Agent four said, "You have to wait until the speaker says to come." I don't know what my face did, but it was probably a mixture of confused and witchy. I said, "Yeah, the speaker said it." He said, "You came before it said it." I said, "Are you serious right now? What's your deal?" He waved his hand at me to go back to the line.
I muttered under my breath, "America, the land of the free to be rude..." He didn't hear me. He sat there in his elevated booth in his swivel chair all smug in his victory over me. I realize that in actuality, this phenomenon crosses international borders, so probably their training program has been translated into all languages. Had Troy been with me, he would tell me to simmer and say, "It isn't worth it, Tara." So, I pretended Troy was with me and stepped back to line.
The overhead speaker said, "Agent eight is now available". With absolute gratitude to the speaker voice, I went to line eight where I met a person not as far along in their abhorrence training.
~ ~ ~ ~
The NPR story on the Chikungunya virus in Haiti can be heard here. Emma is interviewed in the story. She is quite pleased to be the voice for Haitian Moms on this report. (Sunday she asked me if the white guy with the microphone put her on the radio yet. At the time it hadn't been published yet.)
Since 8 days ago when I first wrote about this nasty new (to Haiti) virus, we have seen more pregnant women and more babies with the virus. Thinking back on things we believe we saw our first case on May 6th. Since that time many more have come with the exact same symptoms. Each new day has turned up new cases.
For newborn babies it seems much more difficult to tolerate. Emma's baby had it at two weeks of age, but we now have two five day old babies with it. New babies that have not established a solid nursing pattern are at a higher risk. Tonight the Maternity Center transported a baby girl (born early morning last Saturday) to three hospitals. Thankfully, the third hospital was able to take baby Anna. At least three of the Maternity Center staff-members have had it and there is a collective holding of our breath as those of us still doing fine all hope to be the ones that don't get it.
It is rainy season, our area is low lying and we frequently have standing water and thicker mosquito population. We don't know what to expect long term, but in the short term we are so sad to see pregnant women and babies suffering from this disease and we feel a lot bit helpless as we watch it spread so quickly.
Today multiple people wrote to ask about bringing their group to Haiti (specifically asked about certain areas of the country) and asked, should they still do that. I am notoriously two weeks behind on email, I want to publish my thoughts about that question here in case I don't get to emails in time.
If you are wondering if you can avoid getting Chikungunya in Haiti this spring/summer, I would answer you the same way I would about Malaria or Dengue Fever or even diarrhea caused by contaminated water or food. Many people will likely come visit and be fine, they will leave Haiti without a rash or fever or pain. Some people are going to get sick. There is no way to avoid it. There are precautions you can take, but I saw some of the most cautious and careful people I know with Chikungunya, so I don't think bug spray and hyper vigilance alone is a guarantee of staying free of the virus.
The only difference between the other things I mentioned and Chikungunya - is that Chikungunya is spreading quickly and many, many people are getting it right now. We are hopeful that it will slow down but right now it is only ramping up.
I don't have a deep well of knowledge to draw from to bust out any statistics for you, but when asked "Do you think I will get sick if I come next month?" I can honestly only say, "possibly, yes/no." It is similar to me asking you to tell me if I will get the flu or a bad cold if I visit you in your state/country during the high season of viral illness in your land. People get sick sometimes - and other times they don't.
Many here live in conditions that are difficult and at times deplorable. As DokteJen struggled with pain last week, she and I both thought about how miserable sparse electricity, no running water, and very few options for pain relief must be.
While we that visit this island or call it our adopted home have reason to be careful and concerned for ourselves, we aren't the ones with the huge challenge of facing this virus without basic conveniences or adequate resources.
One night we were getting ready to pray together. When we do this, Troy has the kids share if there is anything or anyone on their heart to pray for and we chat a bit before we pray. Sometimes it goes really well and other times it is a competition of who cares the most about the most people and can come up with the most random requests. If Noah names six things, Isaac will name name seven and Hope can surely think of at least eight.
Prayer requests as fodder for sibling rivalry, who knew? We openly admit to saying "alright, enough already with the prayer requests - stop!"
On that night, before we prayed we read James Chapter 1. We read the first 18 verses without any commentary from the peanut gallery. Sometimes with the two littlest ones around nobody is really even listening, for that reason we read for just a short time. Normally we would have stopped long before a 19th verse but Isaac had gone to the bathroom with a tummy ache and Noah said "keep going".
At Noah's request we read more.
We read this:
Listening and Doing 19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
After verse 21 Noah raised his hand to stop us and said, "Mama that's me. I get angry quickly. That is for me."
Troy and I looked at one another. Did a stinkin' little kid just recognize his own tendency toward quick anger? Did he just call himself out? Did he just own his issue? Did he just show up two-thirds of the adult population? We high-fived with our eyes across the room. (An "eye five"!?!)
We went on to discuss our anger issues for a few brief minutes, listing recent events wherein we were all "quick to anger" - and then just as quickly as the deep moment of introspection came, someone farted and the moment was gone.
We were grateful for that short conversation with Noah. We know he comes by his tendency toward quick anger quite honestly. (ahem.)
Marc Cohn wrote this in his song "The Things We've Handed Down":
You may not always be so grateful
For the way that you were made
Some feature of your father's
That you'd gladly sell or trade
And one day you may look at us
And say that you were cursed
But over time that line has been
Extremely well rehearsed
By our fathers, and their fathers
In some old and distant town
From places no one here remembers
Come the things we've handed down
I come from a long line of feisty people. Feisty is just a nice way to say "hot-headed". I know the truth about my natural tendencies. I know the truth about Noah's too.
Troy, on the other hand, seems so very calm. But inside he is not as calm as he often appears. That is probably also a 'thing that's been handed down'. Troy has frequently said, "I had no idea I was angry until I got here to Haiti."
After many months and years, Haiti has a way of bringing out whatever ugliness exists in our lives.
If pride is your issue, in this not to be controlled place, called Haiti, you become prideful times ten. If you had a small anger problem before you got here - your anger problem is now amplified under bright light. If you struggled with judgment, dishonesty, fear, control, or any number of normal-human-things, you can try to fool yourself but you'll never fool anyone watching. It will be on display as you face it in the frying pan or in the fire.
This is a hard place.
It has a way of exposing things.
So much of our struggle working here has been to keep from becoming permanently angry. (Or getting stuck in whatever might be hiding beneath the anger.) The simplest things such as driving, buying groceries, or helping a friend with a medical need at a local hospital will test every ounce of your patience. The real and perceived lack of change, lack of progress, lack of truth, lack of trust, lack of convenience, lack of compliance, lack of integrity, lack of justice ... It all tries and tests.
Things happen every day that bring your heart rate up and cause you shoulders to meet your earlobes. Much of that anger can feel quite justified and even righteous ... and a lot of it probably is ... but walking around angry doesn't really change anything.
We found out while talking with Noah that we all desire to work harder and to successfully be- "quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." As we read from James we had to say to our son: "Buddy, that is us. That is for us too."
Perhaps it's for you as well?
Photo of a quick Maternity Center visit to meet new babies.
This post was edited and republished - Originally posted June 2011
Grateful to report they are all doing well, as are their Mommies.
Left to Right: Abigail - Anna - Marvens
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Today's Events at HMC-
Baby girl, Abigail, born to Brunette this morning. 7lbs9ounces 21" long
Brunette and Abigail
- Two women currently in early-ish labor.
- One baby acting not normal, not eating well. Had Chikungunya this week but had gotten better, now acting lethargic. Baby Fritzlene needs to get well.
- One Momma (also on staff at HM) who has lost multiple pregnancies being put on bed-rest in hopes her baby will wait another three or four weeks before coming and she will not go pre-eclamptic. Prayers for Guerda, please.
- Dokte Jen is saying the worst is over and is doing a bit better this evening. NPR hasn't published the story yet, but we will let you know when/if they do.
Jean Rony Philippe, a 44-year-old businessman and political activist from Haiti’s southeastern city of Jacmel, was driving home from Port-au-Prince on Apr. 3, 2014 when he was ambushed, robbed, shot, and left for dead by a eight heavily armed men. The crime, he believes, was ordered by former Sen. Joseph Lambert, who is today one of President Michel Martelly’s closest advisors. “My family and I have become a problem for [Joseph ] Lambert,” Mr. Philippe said in a long interview with Haïti Liberté, in which he detailed the ambush and his long history of “political rivalry” with Mr. Lambert. “We are preventing him from controlling the [Southeast] department in its entirety, and I have been working hard to keep him from reigning as lord and master there. That is his problem with me.”
Despite much talk, especially in the Southeast department, that he was behind the attempted assassination, Mr. Lambert has offered no comment on the attack, nor have his political allies, Sen. Edwin “Edo” Zenny and Sen. Wenceslas Lambert, his brother. Mr. Philippe’s charges come as restauranteur Woodly “Sonson Lafamilia” Ethéard, another close Martelly associate, turned himself into the Haitian police on May 8 on charges of involvement in a kidnapping ring known as the “Galil Gang.” Mr. Ethéard, who was on the run and in headlines for the past two months, is currently being held in a Croix-de-Bouquets jail alongside Clifford Brandt, another close Martelly associate who was arrested two years ago for heading another kidnapping ring but who has never been brought to trial. Trained in Haitian universities as an agronomist, Mr. Philippe owns a supermarket and an electronics store in Jacmel and is the assistant treasurer of the Southeast department’s Chamber of Commerce. He is also a political activist in the grassroots Organization of 22 (OG-22), which is close to the Lavalas Family party, and was the vice president of the Southeast’s Departmental Election Office (BED) for the 2009 Senate elections and the first round of the 2010 Presidential elections. Well-regarded in Jacmel, Mr. Philippe is local success story, having been born a peasant in nearby Belle Anse, where his family is still influential. As he drove home from the capital on the day of the attack, Mr. Philippe noticed a grey Toyota Rav4 SUV following him. Just before he reached the Port-au-Prince suburb of Mariani, the Rav4 blocked him. Almost immediately his car was surrounded “by eight men, all armed with brand-new 9mm guns.” After shooting him once, the assailants took 40,000 gourdes (US$886), his phone, two rings, and a bracelet, but he was still negotiating for his life. “At last I realized that they wanted to kill me no matter what,” Mr. Philippe said. “Still very calmly, I told them, ‘if you want other things, just ask me. But let me live! Here is the key to my car. Take it with everything in it.’” The men mocked him and shot him again. “I was hit by many bullets and finally, I fell down on the car seat, pretending to be dead,” the victim said. After the men fled the scene, Mr. Philippe, bleeding profusely, drove himself to a nearby Haitian police station, and the police took him to the nearby hospital of Doctors Without Borders. He was transferred to and operated on at the Canapé Vert hospital. He then traveled to Brooklyn, NY where he underwent more surgery at Kings County Hospital. He is now recuperating in New York City. Joseph Lambert has long been accused and suspected of involvement in drug trafficking and other criminal activities in the Jacmel region. In a May 12, 2006 secret diplomatic cable provided to Haïti Liberté by WikiLeaks in 2011, then U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Janet Sanderson wrote that Mr. Lambert was reported to be one “of the best-known narco-traffickers in [Jacmel], distributing money for favors and engaging in vote buying... SIMO [U.S. Army’s Systems Integration and Management Office] and DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency] Port-au-Prince report that information on file reflects that he is suspected of association with known drug traffickers in Jacmel.” In another secret Aug. 2, 2006 cable, Ms. Sanderson reported that Edmund Mulet, then the head of the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), complained that “drug trafficking has become an increasingly alarming problem, which is difficult to combat, in part because of the drug ties within the Haitian Government. In this connection, he mentioned Senate leader Joseph Lambert and Security Commission Chair Youri Latortue,” another former senator who is today another close Martelly advisor. In 2013, a young Jacmel man, Sherlson Sanon, claimed to have worked for Mr. Lambert as a hired gunman for over 10 years and to have been instructed by him to kill Deputies Sorel Jacinthe and Levaillant Louis-Jeune. In his confession to police, Mr. Sanon claimed to have engaged in drug trafficking and murder for Mr. Lambert as well as Sen. Zenny. Asked by Haïti Liberté what he knew about Mr. Sanon’s charges, Mr. Philippe replied that he had “no elements to verify” the accusations but said that “one day the Haitian judicial system has to free itself from the claws of Joseph Lambert and of the government he belongs to if we want to shed light on certain cases in which he is implicated.” This may be difficult because, according to Mr. Philippe, “in Jacmel, for example, Lambert named the state prosecutor, the justice of the peace (juge de paix), and the investigating judge also. The local chief justice (doyen) is under his control. If Lambert controls the justice system to this extent, who is going to arrest him, even if he is accused or found guilty of whatever? He will be declared not guilty, and that’s it.” Mr. Philippe explained he had once reluctantly visited Mr. Lambert, on his invitation, because his brother had been falsely arrested. One phone call from Mr. Lambert to the local judge resulted in his brother’s immediate release from jail, he said.
“We need another governance, another Haiti,” Mr. Philippe concluded. “We need men and women who choose to go to universities to learn and to create jobs in the country, not choose to become criminals, kidnappers, or drug traffickers.”
Emma's interview with NPR
Dr. Jen interview with NPR
If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times. There is no predicting tomorrow on this half of this island in this part of the Caribbean.
One day you are stitching up wounds and placing IUDs and taking care of very sick babies and being interviewed by NPR while celebrating your birthday and the next day you are in pain, in bed, a victim to the newest mosquito borne illness.
Dokte Jen went from all of that activity to having a fever and pain in a matter of hours. Not a very nice post birthday hangover at all.
Jen comes in an out of Haiti, as all long time readers know. Some years we get her for five months, others for three. No matter what, we have learned that when she is here, she will deal with some big things that we are not necessarily totally equipped to deal with on our own. (Although, Jen will take issue with this and say that we are doing great and have come a long way in our skills and nursing care and that we don't need her. She lies like that.)
The only emergency C-Section ever done at Heartline, Jen was here. When Phoebe decides to have asthmatic crashes, Jen is here (or Jen is on the phone with us all day). The only time my kid had bacterial meningitis, with a seizure, in a hospital without doctors, Jen was here. The only time Chikungunya was hitting our staff and clients like a storm, Jen was (is) here. I could carry this list on ad infinitum; suffice it to say, when big #%*# goes down, she seems to be here. I am over the top about appreciating her because she is one of my very best friends and because she saved the life of my kid one day in 2008. If it seems like too much fanfare, let me say, it's not.
In the next day or two you can watch the NPR feed for a story on Chikungunya in Haiti, you will likely hear Emma (first photo) speaking about her case and her baby, Fritzlene. You will also very likely hear Jen's concerns about the virus that now has her lying in bed in a lot of pain.
Suturing ClassI want to share one other thing with you. Emma is a rock star Momma. Life has dealt her an insanely unfair hand. I so want her voice on NPR and I want people to know she is an incredibly smart woman with more moxie than most of us dream of having. This 25 year old is tougher than tough. Right now she is pulling herself up and out of her unfair circumstances. She knew Fritzlene was sick before a single symptom showed. She is a Mom in every sense of the word. We sometimes hear that poor folks shouldn't have babies and people make comments that are disrespectful and hurtful. I know for many that sounds absurd. I wish I was exaggerating. There are some that think forced sterilization of the poor makes perfect sense. There are some that believe material poverty equals stupidity or no right to a free life. We watch materially poor women provide for and love their babies well every day. Like us, they are not perfect mothers, but they are doing the very best they can with what they have and that in and of itself earns my respect and props.
It is safe to say we are all nervous about this virus. Thankfully it is not fatal. Unfortunately it cannot be treated (Malaria can be treated) and only supportive care can be done to try and make patients more comfortable. We don't have time to be sick and we hate seeing the mommas and babies that already have so much on their plate forced to add yet another thing to overcome.
~ ~ ~
Yesterday a friend was in a moto accident and Dr. Jen taught the midwives of Heartline some advanced fancy suturing techniques while we fixed him up. I don't know if this was annoying or funny to him, but we compared this poor guy's knee and heel to female anatomy multiple times.
Today is a new day, who knows what it will bring?!? We always ask that when Haiti comes to mind, that you please toss up prayers for this wonderful little island nation. Today, please add Chikungunya and Dr. Jen and the ladies we work with and serve to your prayer list.
carelp posted a photo:
A droite du couple présidentiel, l'artiste Rodrigue Milien et le Père Antoine Occide Jean (Père Sicot). A gauche, le musicien Raoul Guillaume, la Ministre de la Culture, Mme Josette Darguste, et le Dr Didier Armand, représentant de Mimi Barthélémy.
carelp posted a photo:
Vue partielle de l'assistance à la cérémonie de remise de décoratiion au Palais National
carelp posted a photo:
Le Père Antoine Occide Jean (Père Sicot), Sociologue et Ethnologue, est décoré de l'Ordre National Honneur et Mérite au Grade de Grand Officier pour sa contribution au développement communautaire
carelp posted a photo:
Photo souvenir entre le récipiendaire et le Chef de l'Etat
carelp posted a photo:
M. Raoul Guillaume, premier compositeur de chants de Noël et grand Mapou de la musique haïtienne, est décoré de l'Ordre National Honneur et Mérite au Grade de Chevalier pour sa constance dans le milieu musical.
carelp posted a photo:
Photo souvenir entre le Président de la République et le Maestro Raoul Guillaume