I arrived Tues. 20th about 3:30 pm. Auguste was there to meet me with a taxi and we were home in 20 minutes. This was the first time the house has been left open for staff. Shortly before leaving, I finally had the locks changed on the 3 front doors. This provided 3 keys for each lock. The antique lock we inherited had only one key and could not be duplicated.
So Mme Carmene worked 2 days a week and Mme Joceline 1 day a week keeping things clean. What a treat not spending the first 3 or 4 days trying to get rid of layers of dust, new families of mice. Unfortunately the ravets (cockroaches) felt the need to stay and greet me. Instead of layers of dust, I was greeted to sparkling windows, clean screens, fresh curtains and beds made and ready not only for me but for visitors as well.
Then 24 hours of straight rain. It is the rainy season and I didn't really need the reminder as the previous 3 weeks of steady rain plus cyclone Noel had left high water marks on the security wall and mold and mildew covering every surface. Then followed two days of glorious sun (about 85) - currently rain out of nowhere after a sunny morning in which Dieugrand, Rosenie and I worked on the grass and in the garden. They are now preparing sacks of rice and beans, small bottles of oil which will be distributed tomorrow (Sunday).
We have been so busy each day we have not had time to eat lunch, go into town to the bank, visit the nutrition centre and say hi. We have a steady stream of kids with illnesses. 5 with eye infections and there are no eye drops to be found. There are apparently so many infections after the storm that meds in stock are depleted.. We try to make them comfortable, but drops would really help. Eyes are very swollen, red, streaming and sometimes burning, sometimes hurt to touch.
We also have had 8 cases of malaria however 4 were diagnosed without blood tests. That is another problem when there is a shortage of doctors and only a nurse practitioner. Although they are very ill, I am sending them to a second clinic for blood work as Malaria meds are so hard on the body. Also if used and Malaria is not present you have a problem when it does appear.
3 more cases of typhoid. Jak's daughter did not respond to the Malaria meds so he took her back to the clinic. No malaria this time but symptoms still presenting. She is only 5 and has lost so much weight she looks like a little skeleton. I had brought some Rice Protein Powder for personal use, and that seems to be giving her an appetite.
Sherline arrived Thurs am at 7 as she had a rendevous at the clinic to check on her Malaria. I asked if she had finished the meds and she said no she wasn't able to because the nurse told her to take them with food . When I asked how often she ate she said once a week - the sack she picks up from us on Sunday. She told me there were 5 in the house and they each depended on that little sack for their weekly meal. Auguste and I conferred and we are going to provide her with a weekly stipend which she will pick up on Sunday with her food sack. She will be able to purchase a sandwich, juice and water and take her meds. This is a temporary solution for one person.
As I talked with everyone who came over the last 3 days ( and the weekend staff today) I realized that for most our sack is the only food they have in a week. If staff did not have work here, no daily meal. Enough for a day or 2 (if others are not eating from it.) Staff and I agree that we need to double food distributed and begin distributing charcoal for cooking. It is $100. H a bag in good weather and goes up to $500. bag in the rainy season (now) This means we will need more donations .
On a another note, our university students are enjoying the experience although Vincent is ill. He has blood in his sputum, so tests are being done. Thank goodness there is an infirmary on campus. One of the computers (ordinateur) donated by Seton Hall has gone to Limbe with the guys as they were paying to use the schools computers. This gives them one to share. Thank you again Seton Hall.
We set up one of the printers which arrived courtesy of Steve in New Jersey and it works like a charm. The staff all stood around watching as it printed test pictures and letters. We have set up the gallery table and bench inside the front door so that only those with permission may enter and have access to the "cybercafe".
On that note I will close. We have visitors arriving the first week of December. The men will help us install the solar panels they donated and the women will spend some time getting to know our students and programs and hopefully make some home visits with us.
Alal pwochen - (until the next time)
Kenbe pa lage (hang in there)
It is 1 pm Sunday. We have already had 30 in for food sacks, keeping Erzilia and Dieugrand very busy. Of those 30, 10 needed medical referrals (meaning we need another staff member to work Sunday ) Of those 30, only 2 ate on a daily basis (brother and sister. However, he has malaria) Hopefully Rosenie will be able to work Sunday instead of Saturday and we will replace her Saturday.
This leads me to send a request for items we need:
Protein bars - good quality with high protein percentage
Vitamin C (Esther C if possible - easier on stomach)
Multi vitamins (chewable if possible)
Herbal teas for colds, sore throat etc. (Traditional Medicinals< makes a very effective line.
Money to purchase mosquito nets and beds - could be a single campaign.
I'm sure something else will come to mind but this is a good start.