Sunday, August 31, 2014

My week, Chikungunya the new norm, back to school

Greetings from Cap-Haitien - finally

It only happens when you are packed and  anxious to go. The scheduled flight was first delayed, then cancelled then rescheduled 3 times. I did arrive in Providenciales Wednesday then over to Haiti Thursday. Fourth time was the charm. Almost a  week delayed but Mother Nature was calling the shots and setting the schedule.

At the Cap airport, Auguste our director of education,  was allowed into the arrival area because I was in a wheel chair, due to my new friend the mosquito born virus Chikungunya. While in Canada I was an oddity, the only person with this nasty problem. I noticed Auguste having difficulty with my suitcase, probably because I have the same difficulty.

When we got to our vehicle, I noticed the problem he had with the keys to the truck. When questioned, he told me that he too had the virus. As did Joceline, our cook and Lusnot our Cap-Haitien coordinator. At a time when our energies are directed to getting our young people  ready for school and paying registration fees, we have become both clinic and dispensing pharmacy. All of Joceline's 7 children are infected, Auguste's mother and sisters and Lusnot's cousins.

Joceline has difficulty cutting 
vegetables. We now share the chores.

I had been home about 5 minutes when Emania and Norceline arrived. Both were suffering from the effects of the virus and had been infected for about 2 weeks at that time. Emania has 5 neighbours and 3 sisters infected. Norceline has 1 cousin infected. Both girls are orphans.

 Pharmacist - one of the hats I wear, not as fetching as Norceline's hat.

Norceline and Emania slept the afternoon away
in the quarters for our security staff. 

Emania could hardly stand and I have personal acquaintance with the fatigue which is part of the package. We began to document who was ill and what symptoms presented : intense headache, overwhelming fatigue, high fever,  full body rash - sometimes itchy, pain and swelling in the joints making all movement difficult and numbness in the extremities which adds to the clumsiness when trying to walk or use one's hands. In the vernacular, been there, done that. I could empathize with everything everyone said. We put the first 2 up in our security quarters for the day and sent them home in a taxi when we closed. In their tikays (little houses) there are no beds, no potable water, no peace and quiet. Given the number of people infected, we're going to look for sleeping sponges Monday, making more room for people to sleep during the day.

Shortly after they were settled, Claudine came in with the same symptoms. Everyone in her family -mother, younger brother and sister are also ill. We began to prepare Chikungunya kits to distribute to our young people:
  • ibuprofen 
  • vitamin c  (chewable)
  • Allimax 
  • B complex
  • potable water sachets  
  • crackers and cheese to take with the ibuprofen
Nursing students Myriame and Camiose arrived shortly after. Only Myriame was not ill, but the other 11 members of her family are all infected. Camiose, and 7 other people in her family are ill.
Lusnot talks with Myriame about support for her ailing family.
Coordinator Lusnot talks with nursing student Myriame while a pensive Camiose looks on. The pain and fatigue which are part of the package, make it very difficult to follow a conversation, let alone enter into one.

Friday was a repeat of Thursday. By the time Auguste and I left for the bank early afternoon, we were out of Allimax, Vit. C and Ibuprofen. We are only able to distribute to our young people, not their extended families. After sitting in the bank all afternoon to open an account, we headed to Digicel to get a new phone number for me. For some reason - nobody working there could explain - my number had just disappeared. I was told that line no longer existed. Time spent in both places ate away our allotted time, so Monday we will search the pharmacies for more meds and vitamins. Allimax is not available in this country.

Although this virus has gone viral here, we still have school prep. Many of our young people still do not have year end results, but for those we know we have already registered. Our book repair program was healthy in both Sen Rafayel and Cap-Haitien. More than 1500 text books were cleaned and recovered in preparation for the first day of school. School opening is optimistically slated for Sept. 8.
Carline (purple dress) coordinated the book program in Cap.
She just completed Philo and needs a sponsor for university.
Lakay Jasmine, our Sen Rafayel center has the luxury of space.
Coordinator Edeline checks the 3 locations, each looking after a different aspect.

We have to get to Sen Rafayel this week (its payday), but it may be the weekend before we get all supplies together for both locations. Here in Cap we have the added problem of sick dogs. Our 3 puppies have broken out with a skin condition which looks like small boils all over their core. Fur is falling off in clumps . Only faces and paws are spared. I consulted a vet in Orangeville after staff apprised me of the situation and sent photos. Thanks to Dr. Ann Voyame and the staff at Dufferin Veterinary Hospital. I came armed with antibiotics, homeopathic creams and a serum which is applied on the neck every 2 weeks. The fun part (you have to laugh) is  thinking of ingenious ways to disguise the antibiotics because the amount needed (twice a day) depends on body weight. We have already used all the cream - 3 tubes of Calendula gel. Also not available here.
As if the homecoming welcome wasn't enough, the quiet of Sunday morning was broken when 2 gun shots rang out. I was listening to the corner church choir and blissfully composing an email. Another reminder to get busy finding land to build in Cap-Haitien in a setting more conducive to study and blissful composition.

Our well is still dry. Today there has been electricity. However it is so weak that everything in both fridge and freezer have melted. The inverter and solar panels would do a better job but we have had 2 overcast days so the batteries are not charged. 

Despite or because of the seeming chaos, it's good to be home. I was thinking before I left Orangeville how fortunate I am to be 'at home' in two countries. Just lucky I guess.

That was my week. How was yours? Let me know. Life is about sharing stories.



Unknown said...

What a week you had! So sorry to hear about so many being hit with Chikungunya.
My youngest grandsons spent last week with me and left with new shoes and fresh haircuts, so they are ready for school whenever it opens. Teachers and province are locked in a long-standing dispute, so BC schools won't open on time after Labour Day.
Wishing all your students a successful year ahead.

Starthower Founder said...

Thanks for your comments Yvonne. Sorry to hear about the dispute between teachers and province. It isn't easy anywhere.
On the bright side, you had quality time with grandsons. What a gift.


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