My First Week in Haiti: Impressions and Aspirations
Hi! My name is Zoe, and I am the 2013 summer intern for International Child Care. Thanks to ICC and Grace Children’s Hospital, this internship had given me my first opportunity to visit to Haiti or the Caribbean, so every part of this experience is completely new to me. As my first week in Haiti comes to a close, my first impressions are shifting and I am adjusting to a new pace and lifestyle at Wall's Guest House, at work, and in Port-au-Prince.
Some aspects of daily life are already feeling easier. When I first arrived, the unsmiling stares of Haitians as I walked by made me very uncomfortable. But I’ve since realized that what I had taken for animosity is usually just plain curiosity, and a simple “bonjou” or “ça va?” can put those around me at ease with my foreign-ness and allow us to open up with each other. I find that with a little effort and I can now peacefully float through the noise, dust, and heat that at first felt so overwhelming. I’ve had difficulty adjusting to Haitian time, which appears to run on some sort of flexible Dali-esque clock, where ten minutes can mean twenty or a meeting at 3 o’clock can mean a meeting at 4 o’clock. Despite the differences, the overall sense I get from the Haitian lifestyle is one of great humanity; of putting relationships first, and emphasizing happiness and friendship as a priority in daily life. This is something I greatly admire and respect.
At work, things are beginning to fall into place at the hospital and ICC office. I spent the first week working with Robenson Lucceus, the PR Coordinator for ICC Haiti. Throughout the week, Robenson showed me a warm welcome to Haiti. On our first day, he gave me a tour of the hospital and I got the chance to meet the staff and some of the patients. I spent some time wth Stevenson, one of the babies in recovery in Grace's nursery.
In addition to indtroducing me to the staff, Robenson helped introduce me to Port-au Prince at large. Together we visited the downtown, saw historical sites and monuments, went to a small but powerful Church service, and even attended a Haitian wedding! This upcoming week I am looking forward to working with Grace’s sociologist, Dr. Hippolit, and the Maitresse (children’s teacher) Kisla. I have a lot to learn from them about their work with patients, and I can't wait to see more.