Thursday, October 28, 2010

Li Gou

Today I am happy to finally say that after months of waiting the xray system has finally been installed and calibrated. Three staff are being inserviced on its use right now. We are up and running! Thank you Bill Wright and Connie Pennock-Root for coming down for the install and inservice. Thanks too to Radiology Imaging Solutions and Spectrum Butterworth Radiology Department for their kind and generous donations of (expensive!) equipment and xray film. I love seeing collaborations like these come together.

Today my team went to a place locals call “the poor house." Here reside fifteen of this world’s most down-and-out creatures. The reason they are there, though, is that in addition to being poor, they have no one. No family who they can live with. No one. When I heard someone mention it several months ago, I walked down through the village and found them: “the least of these.”

Their cinderblock “home” consists of a couple of long-ish buildings, each with three rooms. Thankfully there is a latrine. They cook over small charcoal fires built on the ground. Their rooms have rocky, lumpy dirt floors. There are no beds at all. Everyone (not hyperbole here... EVERYONE) sleeps either on the dirt bedroom floors or on the uneven concrete porch or in the yard. The inside walls have never been painted and are so dirty black that when you step into the rooms it is like walking in to a cave. It is so dark you cannot see. And since there is no electricity you can only imagine the blackness that night brings around there.

The outside walls were once that characteristic bright green so popular in Haiti. But dirt and grime now cover those walls; they are anything but bright.

The concrete cistern that catches rainwater off their roof has cracks in it, so it leaks.

The people here are older folks, for the most part, although there are a few children. It is a pretty quiet place, where you’ll not find a whole lot of hope or happiness.

Today we painted rooms a light yellow and put smooth concrete on the floors of their rooms. We installed a small solar panel on the roof, which provides electricity for four LED lights. Tomorrow we’ll deliver 15 really nice beds that several of the guys built. And we’ll put mattresses and sheets on each one. And we’ll patch the cistern, so they don’t lose perfectly-good water.

My role for this particular trip down here has been that of overseer/coordinator so I’ve done a lot of troubleshooting and walkie-talkie-type stuff. When I rounded on the poor house this afternoon, I took with me one of those big orange coolers full of ice-cold lemon aid. After admiring the work being done, then, I filled these little plastic cups and just passed them out for these parched, dusty, beautiful people to drink. One old man was blind, and I had to crouch down and press in close in order to press the glass to his lips so he could have cold lemonaid. Between his swallows and as I lifted the cup back and forth to his lips I could hear his weak voice repeating over and over... "Li gou, Li gou" "It is good. It is good." One of the more poignant moments of my life.

Thanks, Freddy, for grabbing a camera and capturing this moment. I owe you one.

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