there is to teach the people how to help themselves. All of the AFSC staff there is Haitian. The staff acts as coordinators and facilitators for the people. In Dame Marie we met with two women's groups and saw the Pig Center. The pig project is an effort to provide every family in the area with a pig which is the same as a savings account. The three doctors plus Lou Enge went with Dr. Paul Beach to a village in the interior. That trip involved a long and arduous walk up a mountain. After they arrived and had been served refreshments, they met with the local base group to discuss the pressing issues. The issues involved a contaminated water supply, immunization for the children and proper design and placement of latrines.
All that day while we were visiting the groups, the Haitian AFSC staff had been working on preparing a feast and party for us. There were many local delicacies for us to eat, there were sodas and beer to drink, and best of all there was local Haitian music for listening and dancing. Gerald was available to teach anyone who wanted to learn how to dance in the Haitian way to the music.
The next day was the trip to Les Irois and the dedication of the clinic. The first viewing of the clinic was a moving experience. To actually see what we all had been working for brought tears to our eyes. We toured it in the chaos of its being decorated and having the finishing touches put on. We met with more groups and then were fed and entertained for the evening.
The next day was the peak experience of the trip. The dedication ceremony consisted of people from miles around coming to this new white building that rivaled the local church in prestige. People packed into the building in their finest clothes. Children peeked through the tarps protecting the courtyard from the noon day sun. Speeches were given by the Minister of Health from Port-au-Prince, Pastor Richie, Gerald, the Mayor of Les Irois, Dr. Paul Beach, and Eloise Chevrier, AFSC fund raising coordinator from Chicago. There was even a skit depicting the difference between going to a western doctor and Voudun doctor. We all listened as Denise Davis, AFSC Associate Coordinator of the Caribbean Desk, and Dr. Paul Beach translated the Creole into English for us.
This health center will serve 60,000 people, around 80 to 100 people per day. The people were overwhelmingly grateful for this gift of a site to educate and heal the local populace.
As we returned to Dame Marie knowing that the trip was coming to an end, there was a subdued feeling to the group. Each of us wondered in our own way what we could do with the knowledge and experience we had gained in Haiti. I had a thousand pictures and words in me about Haiti and I knew most people would want only a few.
When I walked off the plane in Eugene, my children ran towards me with hesitant looks on their faces. They knew something was different. p