Monday, June 4, 2012

Day Three- Cement and Spines

Another busy day, part group effort part divide and conquer. Scott and the medical team had a long spinal surgery planned today so Leah, Andrew and I went out with Jonathan and our Haitian helpers to get some work done at Mary Lou's orphanage. The group stayed at it all day and but I had to come back to recovery the spine surgery patient around lunch. We woke up at 6 am and were on the road by 7. First stop was buying some supplies at the roadside stands. We let our Haitian friend Gregory out and they negotiated a Haitian price for two bunk beds, $50 each. They guys we bought it from were a little bummed to see four white guys load them into the truck, they could have charged us the white man price. But in the end the orphans won and we saved more money for food and other projects. Current the kids are sleeping on two dirty mattresses on the floor, now they will have two bunk beds to share. After the beds we were on to buy some tin for building a roof over an outdoor kitchen we plan to build on the current roof of the orphanage. Gregory and Jean Marie were off again to find us a good price, ten sheets of tin for $50. We had some room in the truck so we stopped to pick up some cement for building the wall, $6.25 per 94 pound bad, we got 10 bags.

Just a simple ride was was all that stood between us and Mary Lou's orphanage. We managed to paved portion without issue. Then we arrived at a very steep hill, unpaved, and uneven potted with holes and ruts. We got halfway up and the car broke down. Just went dead. So Jonathan attempted to pop the clutch while going in reverse down a steep, dirt road with curves, other cars and people. We lived through the experience but the car was still dead. We had a Haitian guy help us fix the car, well it started as one Haitian and turned into about 8 by the time we finished. We got the truck started and made our way to Mary Lou's.

When we got there we had to hire a team of men to carry our supplies up into the mountains (Andrew, Jonathan and I each huffed a 100 pound bag of cement up the hill and all nearly died from the effort. The Haitians ran load after load up, I'm pretty weaksauce compared to these guys. The hill is quite tough and uneven terrain with a very steep incline that rises about 1,000 feet up the mountain. When we got the beds up to the building they would not fit in the front door. We ended up taking off doors, taking apart furniture, and working for about an hour to fit them into the small hillside house.

After we delivered this load Mary Lou made us a nice lunch of beans and rice, very tasty, as good as Summer makes at home. In between hauling cement, tin and beds up the hill we all spent a lot of time having little spider monkey orphans jump off beds and chairs and grab on to us. They would jump one after another until there were 4 or five kids hanging off every limb. We returned the favor by body slamming them into the bed and tickling them. There may be no better sound than a little Haitian laugh uncontrollably. An experience none of us will ever forget.

After lunch I had to get back to the hospital to recover our spine surgery patient. The guys dropped me off and headed out for more materials. They ended up spending about 12 hours buying, haggling and hauling the materials to build the wall, build an outdoor kitchen and improve the building. Leah, Andrew and Jonathan were off to pick up 200 cement blocks to build a partial second story onto the orphanage. They made one trip and then halfway into our second the clutch went out on the truck (second time it died today, how many lives does a Haitian TapTap have?) and stranded them on the side of the road. After unloading all of the block they tried to fix the truck but is wasn’t going to happen. They had to hire a taxi to carry the rest of the blocks, then walk to town to look for more materials. Randy from the hospital came to help and they made another trip with 12 foot wooden beams for the roof. All day two different teams of men carried our 1,000 pounds of cement, 120 gallons of water, 200 block, 2 bunk beds, 5 twelve-foot beams, and 150 pounds of food up the side of the mountain to 15 hungry kids. It was a long, hot, tiring day but it was awesome! The crew also bought a 100 pound bag of rice, 25 pounds of dried beans, a huge bag of veggies and some cooking oil for the orphanage. What a spectacular day.

While they were off doing that I changed into scrubs and went into the OR. Scott, Jeff and Alan were working on a 13 year old girl. In August of last year she had a wall fall on here and break her spine. She is paralyzed from the waist down. Additionally her spine fused in a Z pattern that does not allow her to sit up straight, she is very hunched over witha prominent outcropping of her spine. The guys spent 5 hours putting 12 screws and 2 rods along her spine, after her spine was in proper alignment. While she will always be paralyzed at least she can be comfortable and have a little better quality of life.

After Leah and I recovered that case we had a quick dinner and headed up to roof to watch the sunset. I called Summer and wished her a happy birthday, she was at work but I got to talk to her for a few minutes. I am really missing her, especially today on her birthday. Love you babe.

We were about to relaxing into a quite evening when a patient arrived in the ER at about 7:30pm. He has in a car accident and broke his left tibia and fibula. He had about 6 lacerations all over his body that needed sutures. The team took him to the OR to wash out his leg and place a SIGN Nail in the tibia. It was a fairly proximal (close to the knee) break so it took a few hours to get the Nail in with good alignment. Leah and I recovered him until about 1:30, it's now 2 and I have been up for 20 hours. Wake up call tomorrow is 6 am. I'm gonna need a vacation after this vacation.

We were off at 7 am, the local markets were already humming. The big bags are filled with charcoal

Local fruit market, you can buy pretty much anything on the side of the street. Every road is lined with different stands and vendors selling something
Some de-forestation in action. They use these long wooden poles during construction of their homes.
Our first stop was to buy some bunk beds, Jean Marie was one of the Haitians helping us today. He wasn't letting anyone take out beds
Tight Fit but we made it
Some locals washing clothes along the road
Next task was to carry these 100 pound bags of cement up about 500 feet into the hillside up steep, rocky terrain. 20 bags that is, and later 200 cinder blocks, then 150 gallons of water, one gallon at a time, then two bunk beds, then 100 pounds of rice. You see where this is going, Haitians are hard workers. This guys is showing off, carrying two 100 pound bags.

The Haitians carried the blocks three at a time
We tried to get the bunks in the front door, they fit in the door but couldn't make the turn inside
So we went in the back door
And then had to take apart her entire house to fit the beds in.
This will be the first night they don't sleep on the floor, I think they are dreaming of it already

Lunch time. Mary Lou made us a very nice lunch of rice and beans.
The kids joined in too

Jeff has his hands wrapped around her spine here

Scott and Jeff placing a pin into this girls spine.
Her spine is now in proper alignment

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