We started today by visiting a school filled with Taylor’s “kids” that she has been able to build relationships with during the past month in Haiti. After each kid’s name, age, and temperature were written down, Mandy and I were in charge of giving the worming medication. This was a challenge because the pills have to be chewed and do not have a pleasant taste whatsoever. Chad made us try one and I would have to agree—these pills taste like an extremely stale Flintstones vitamin. To help guide the kids through chewing the medicine, Mandy and I learned how to said “chew and swallow” in Creole. This helped some kids to not feel so lost in how we were helping them, but sometimes they just giggled at us because we totally have American accents when we try to speak Creole.
While Mandy continued helping Dr. Bosworth in giving the worming medicines and checking for other health symptoms, Chad and I hopped in the tap-tap and drove to another pharmacy to pick up more Albendazole (the worm medication) and a pregnancy test. This time, Chad made sure that I got to experience a “lower-status” pharmacy. As we pulled up to the building, I began having a completely different perspective on the pharmacy that was before my eyes. Compared to the one I saw yesterday—which had cool air flow, a radio playing, and everything typical drug store necessity—this pharmacy was barely the size of my dorm room back at Augie and we did our transaction on the outside porch rather than inside the building. As we waited for the pharmacist to tell us how much he had and the pricing, I started thinking about the “business” side of Haitian pharmacies. Back in the U.S., virtually all pharmacies have a computer-based system that has every single patient’s information on file such as their birthday, contact information, insurance provider, and previous prescriptions. Here in Haiti, while over-the-counter medicines are fairly easy to come by (provided that the particular pharmacy has what you are looking for in stock), I wonder how doctor prescriptions are handled or if there is a form of filing system to keep track of individuals.
When Chad and I arrived back at the school, Dr. Bosworth and Mandy were still hard at work in seeing each teacher and staff member. I used this opportunity to explore the classrooms a little more. I was told one of the teachers, Simon, that I was from Minnesota and he jokingly asked me if I was a fan of Kobe Bryant. Another teacher taught Taylor and me possessive pronouns in Creole—and I thought that learning Spanish verb conjugations were hard. To expand my Creole vocabulary even further, I learned that the word “belle” means beautiful because the teachers thought my hair was “very nice” looking. Then they asked if I was Japanese, which was funny because yesterday, one of Dr. Bosworth’s sons asked if my nationality was the same as the “Oppan Gangnam Style” guy. Just to clarify, I am not Japanese, but I am Korean—just like Psi who sings Gangnam Style.
Before we started packing up from the school, I got my cardio workout in for the day. The kids got me wrapped in a serious game of “Duck, Duck, Goose” but instead of chasing the kids around the circle, it was an all-out sprint for me around the school yard. It wipes me out quickly because I have not sprinted like that since high school cross country workouts.
Once we left the school, we visited our tap-tap driver’s community and treated kids. This was one of the poorest places I have seen in the past couple days. There was garbage and goat poop everywhere and bed sheets were used as walls. We also visited another orphanage/school that was just as heartbreaking to be around. At both places, children would walk around with no shoes or pants and would have open sores all over their legs and feet.
Play time is always fun
It was hard to be in these poorer communities, but it was even harder to treat some of the younger kids because they do not realize that the medicine we are giving them is going to make them better. These kids would cry, scream, and try to wriggle away from us and their mothers when we would try to give the crushed up version of the worming medication. In addition to communication barriers at the pharmacy, this is another crucial example of how we feel at a loss for words because we do not know how to communicate effectively with these people when giving treatments. We want to be able to explain how fighting the parasites will help decrease the severity of other symptoms, but do not always have the right words to provide this information efficiently. I think that is one of the greatest challenges of this trip so far—finding the right words to explain our story.