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09:30 pm: Preparations

Okay, so the trip is real. Tickets have been purchased. I’m totally confident that I can work the clutch and the brakes on this machine until about noon on Saturday. That’s a good 36 hours about which I have confidence. Better than usual.

On Friday we take a plane from Boston to Santo Domingo in the DR. We’re staying at a Quality Inn near the airport overnight – meeting the rest of the team there. 15 of us. 5 physicians, 2 nurses, and the rest of us. Most have been to Haiti before. In the morning, we’re hiring a driver (or two …) to get us from Santo Domingo to the Jimani (pronounced “Jimminy”) border crossing.

That that point we hit one of the truly major make or break points on the trip: We expect that the Family Health Ministries van will meet us at the border crossing. They’re also bringing a truck for the supplies – as well as guards. Okay, they’re probably just bringing guys we know. That’s better than nothing.

I fully expect that we’ll get to sit and stare at the border crossing for a couple of hours, hoping that our transport shows up. It’s gonna be an awesome period during which I learn a lot about the moral constitution of my teammates.

Nervous? Me? Nah.

Assuming that the truck shows, we’re planning to arrive in Blanchard (AKA Terre Noir), just North West of the Port Au Prince airport on Saturday evening. We’ll go to church on Sunday. Yes yes, I know. I’m an atheist. However, perhaps (in the words of the New York Times) “a God who never answers is better than nothing.” Also, the faith of the people I’ve met in Haiti is real, applied, and useful to them. Better than most anything I saw growing up in the suburbs.

Either Sunday afternoon or Monday morning we’ll start seeing patients. At that point, things go totally off the map. I received a forwarded email (via my dad) from a man who was in country last week. Here’s a representative chunk:

spent the bulk of last week working in an orphanage that we turned into a hospital down the road from the real hospital where the surgeons did non stop surgery. lots of ortho trauma, neuro and spine trauma, open wounds, burns, blunt and open trauma to chest, abdomen, pelvis and extremities, crush injuries to just about every part of the body,despair of families split apart searching among the wounded for each other etc…..we put in 12-14 hr days and shifts. teams from all over the world converged at our clinic and hospital which was right on the border of haiti and the dom rep.

He continues, after a bit more detail:

these beautiful people are truly amazing despite the devastation of their country and have a silent dignity that i can not do justice to by trying to describe with mere words. the survivors were mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters, etc and from all walks of life from carpenters and ship captains to lawyers, doctors, poets, authors, masons, bussiness owners all left with nothing at home but complete devastation.

He was at the border. We’re headed for the core. On the other hand, we’re a week later. We may well be able to run an ambulatory care clinic and refer off to the hospital ship. Who knows? I just really hope to not have to do amputations with no sedation. Hell, I would really like to maintain my lifetime record of “zero” instances where I had to take a knife to human flesh.

Nervous? Me? Nah.

What I do know is that we’re packing food for a week, clothing for 90 degree weather, and all the supplies we can fit into our two x fifty pound checked luggages. I’m treating this as a BYO medical practice. It’s gonna be awesome. In addition to bandages, splints, pain meds, and so on – I’m adding things like knives, basic sets of tools, tarps, and so on.

We’ll work as long as we can, through Friday, and then make our way back to the part that I’m actually the most nervous about: Getting from the border back to Santo Domingo.

I’m looking for a Satellite Internet connection. Seems to be a mere matter of about $100 bucks to rent the gear for two weeks, and then something like $8 per MB. Yikes. Still, I would very much like to be able to post while I’m out there.

I’m also looking for ideas. If you have ideas on topics ranging from personal security, to useful tools to bring, to how to best help these people: I would love to hear them.

Originally published at chris.dwan.org. You can comment here or there.



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