A view from a roof in Port au Prince


Happy Hour

The title of this blog is "happy hour." Here I sit in Haiti, on a Saturday night in my room alone with candle lights flickering, Coldplay streaming from my MP3 and although I may be missing out on happy hour at my favorite restaurants in the states, I find myself sitting in the happiest of hours. It feels like a pretty big accomplishment to be sincerely happy with my life. I waited for a long time to come to Haiti. It had been pressing on my heart and calling me here since my very first trip in March of 2008. In the last year or so, I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me that I could not find contentment with the life I was living outside of Haiti. I worked day in and day out, the same schedule just watching the days go by and crossing them out on my calendar. Actually, for the past couple of years crossing out the days on my calendar has become a bit of an obsession for me. Most of the time I was counting down until my next visit to Haiti. 

A view in Milot. Making the trek in the mountains to the Citadel. 

I can't believe I waited so long to come to Haiti full time. I look back and can't believe what I put myself through emotionally by not being here. I see the value in the last year that I spent in Minnesota, because I can't imagine coming here fresh out of school, with minimal nursing skills. With all of that being said, I'm so glad I didn't wait longer to come.

I moved into my new place in Milot, Haiti on Jan 2. I have been here for two weeks now and the time has absolutely flown by.  My role here has become defined more clearly to me over this time. I am the nurse leader. I am responsible for greeting and orienting every team of volunteers that walk onto campus. Today over 30 people arrived. I also work alongside the Haitian charge nurse in making sure that the hospital is staffed appropriately with nurses. A typical day would look like this: Wake up at 6:30ish, breakfast at 7am, walk through each ward in the hospital to have a general census of the number of patients, meet the charge nurse at 8am and go over shift assignments for my volunteers, orient my volunteers to their ward and the nurses they will be working with and ensure each volunteer has a translator. By this time it is about 9am. I have a 3 year old in the peds ward and a few infants in the NICU that I check on several times a day so at this point in the day you will find me here. 10am I make rounds throughout the entire hospital again. By this time the volunteers may be having conflicts with the Haitian nurses or worse may have been left alone in the unit while the Haitian nurse leaves without saying anything, my nurses may be missing medical supplies they need for their nursing, may wish to move to a different unit and anything else that might happen. The next couple of hours I run around trying to fix these problems.  By this time it is usually close to 12pm and once again I go through the hospital again and do the same thing. 1pm is lunch and between 2 and 3 I go to the hospital again to make rounds. The shift ends for the volunteers around 5. I have a short break from about 5pm-7pm. 7pm is dinner, 8pm is a nightly meeting I lead with all of the doctors, nurses, and nonmedical teams that are here, and by 9pm I am getting ready for bed, showering, and getting ready for the next day.  I am very  busy with my new job. It feels like I work around the clock. Part of this is my own fault- there is so much going on with the guests and at the hospital and I don't want to miss a beat.

I have a room of my own most of the time. I will have someone moving in with me for a few days tomorrow. I live in a complex that has 6 rooms and a large men's and women's dorm. There is a nice breeze that comes in through my windows and I have a fan over my bed. I have decorated with candles, a calendar, some Haitian art a friend bought for me and my personal linens. Next to come are new curtains, flowers, and hopefully a rug! Milot is a very quiet town. The hospital is the busiest place the town has to offer and it is about a block away from me. Sometimes I go for a walk with some of the docs and go to a hole-in-the-wall store to buy crackers, cookies, or canned milk. I discovered a blender here and have been making smoothies almost daily- thus the canned milk to compliment the fruit and ice. I took my first run at 5:30 am two days ago. It felt so good to be active, but I had so many weird looks. People don't exercise for leisure like that in Haiti. I smiled and said "Bonjour" to everyone I saw. I think next time I'll wait until I have someone to run with me for some company.  A couple days ago I was on a walk around noon and the kids were let out of school to go home for lunch. Suddenly I was flooded by little school girls in their uniforms and braided hair. They grabbed my hands and showed me how to get to the market where I could buy fruit. I can't wait until I know their names. 

                                                               Below is a picture of my room

I love the people I am working with. It's a lot of fun that we all live together. We all work together to make sure all the needs of the hospital are met. 

I'm happy to report that tomorrow I am taking my first day "off!" I am going with some of a volunteer surgical team to a beach called Cormier Plage. It is supposed to be pristine. I can't wait to get away, sit with a book in the sun, and be away from my responsibilities for a few hours! Bon nuit a tut moun.