I arrived in Cap-Haiten at 6 p.m. yesterday (Sunday) after long day in the Ft Lauderdale (FLL) airport and then a longer than usual flight. Here's what's happening today at Starthrower's center and updates on schools, students, earthquake damage, security and supplies.
Flight to Haiti: Florida FLL via Bahamas to Cap
At FLL, we learned that our plane needed an engine replaced and that there was a medical team ahead of us that had been waiting since Friday.
Then another medical team showed up, complete with meds and machines, also for our flight so chaos ensued. The airline [Florida Coastal Air -- website http://www.lynxairexpress.com] chartered 2 planes and both flights eventually made it to Cap-Haitien after a stop for gas in Exuma, Bahamas. (Googlemap FLL->Exuma->Cap-Haitien map)
We arrived but our luggage did not, and as of noon, it's still not here. There I was, with no meds, no nightgown, no vitamins. And the medical team was unable to continue on to Port-au-Prince this morning as they had to return to the Cap-Haitien airport around noon, in hopes that their lost luggage had found its way to Cap-Haitien.
Lakay Fondasyon Welcome
When I finally got to the Fondasyon, the staff were all waiting to meet me, despite my after-dark arrival. Jack had purchased some ice and drinks (Gatorade, Sprite, Coke), so we had a celebratory drink and then they left me to my own devices. Mirak d'ayiti we had electricity for 2 hours last night. My welcome home present!
Nurses Leogane, Classes Resuming 4th year only
Gaby, one of the student nurses at Leogane, came to our center this morning to study. Gaby had some very graphic tales of the earthquake and aftermath in Leogane about setting up the clinic and tending to the wounded (see this post, link to CNN).
The first year student nurses had completed first aid training complete with certificate, and so they looked after those not so badly injured in the earthquake.
I have never seen a young person so changed as Gaby. The once shy, quiet young man has an energy and a sparkle I could not have imagined. He thinks medicine is the most important career on the planet and cannot wait to resume training. He will have to wait as only those in 4th year nursing will resume studies.
Haiti Schools Closed
All schools are still closed. Deles and Vincent are here in Cap-Haitien; their school, the university in Limbe, is scheduled to open next week but that's all we've heard.
Starthrower Center, Mme Carmene
Kids have been arriving since we opened the center this morning. Carmene (our housekeeper, cook) came to work today. We sat and talked about her son Frandzy's death and the chaos in the rest of her family. (Details)
Carmene now has 10 extra people staying at her house, as her sisters and their children lost everything. Both sisters lost their husbands to undiagnosed illnesses in September and October, respectively. A house filled with grief, and she is the only one with a job.
I told you (this post) that Guilene, our blind student, had made her way from Port-au-Prince to Sen Rafayel.
What I did not know was that she had been buried in the rubble of her school for 6 days .
She ate sand to stay alive. She has infected cuts on her face and her right foot. When she was pulled out of the rubble, all she wanted to do was get to Sen Rafayel.
She finally ended up on one of the buses being used to transport the survivors out of Port-au-Prince. She rode the bus as far as it went then somehow hitchhiked the rest of the way.
Earthquake Damage Center, Water System
Auguste, Jack and I have checked the house and although we have several new cracks, they do not seem to be structural. Our water system has been 'pooched', however. The Bos Plombri (plumber) just left with the bad news: a list of items that need replacing for the toilet and sink. He said parts are scarce and prices seem to change by the hour. We have to make the repairs so we'll pay.
Security Measures at the Center
With so many displaced persons from Port-au-Prince making their way to Cap-Haitien, I have added security around the clock. Fresnel worked last night and today Auguste and I have put a schedule together. It accommodates school time once classes resume, as classes are either morning or afternoon, not full days.
Today we're serving bread and butter, boiled eggs and bananas along with potable water. So far, we've gone through a carton of eggs (30).
We had difficulty finding water to purchase this morning. Jack traveled miles with the wheelbarrow as our usual suppliers had none.
We have set up tables and chairs on the roof and some students are studying up there now. No school still, but they're studying! About 15 students are here now, though they come and go.
Mlle Kayla's box has not arrived here yet because the key to the warehouse was in Port-au-Prince. It is scheduled to arrive in Cap-Haitien today and Auguste will check tomorrow.
Carmene is singing hymns and Rosenie and Auguste are handing out Christmas boxes that came from Pennsylvania. Not all the boxes have arrived but it doesn't make sense to have them sitting here. We are explaining to those who are waiting that more boxes should arrive soon.
The marengwen (mosquitoes) are having their way with me as my insect spray is in my suitcase somewhere between here and Ft Lauderdale. It's warm (about 90F - 32C) with a slight breeze.
And as I write this, it's not even noon yet!
But thank goodness for solar power and wireless internet!