In Haiti, wreckage, emotional and structural | News
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Friday, March 19, 2010

In Haiti, wreckage, emotional and structural

Posted by on Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 9:16 AM

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This post is written by Lora after working at L’Hopital Community Haitienne on Thursday, March 18.

Besides all the physical damage around us, the psychological damage to the people of Haiti is astronomical. I’ve heard it referred to as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on many occasions, and with my very casual knowledge of psychology, I won’t deny the presence of PTSD here. Today I learned a little bit more about what it means to live in the wake of a devastating earthquake.

• We arrived at L’Hopital Communaute Hatienne today and were led into the main waiting area by our Haitian driver. He seems confident enough, but as soon as we entered the space, he walked into the center area that is open to the sky and some tarps rigged across the opening. Standing under a roof is still a frightening prospect.

• While sitting amidst a pile of suction machines in the hallway at the hospital, we were joined by a curious 16 year old boy. Demitri turned out to be a great help with removing and replacing screws, practicing his English as we did some troubleshooting together on a somewhat hopeless piece of equipment. We learned how to salvage tubing off an abandoned suction unit and learned how to use a continuity tester to verify the integrity of a power cord. While sitting together on the floor at the end of a productive few hours, he started to tell me about the earthquake. Demitri had been at home at the time – changing the channel on the TV. Though his house remained standing, he faced a near death experience in one of the aftershocks while respecting his mother’s request to stay home. Fortunately the eager student is still around to hope his school continues soon. I’d like to think that someday he’ll be working in an engineering or technical field making a difference for someone else. (Perhaps I should just be considering teaching??)

• On the way home, from the hospital, we dropped off another Haitian driver for the night. As we drove along his street, he pointed out his house, his grandfather sitting on the steps, and his tent. Despite the fact that his home survived the earthquake, he remains sleeping in a tent. I’m hoping the massive down pour tonight didn’t wash out everyone’s tents.

• Our team member, Jean, got a call from his sister this week, saying that she was back in Haiti. After watching her house fall down in front of her just as she came home from work, Jean’s sister went to stay with family in Miami. Finally, they’ve returned to the country they love, living with family here whose home survived the earthquake. Like Justin mentioned earlier, the quake is no respecter of persons.

This post is part of a week-long series from Engineering World Health, a non-profit headquartered in Durham. A team of three biomedical engineers and technicians from EWH will be in Haiti from March 14 to 21 to assess and repair medical equipment at five clinics in the Port-au-Prince area. These posts will be written by two of the EWH team members, Lora Perry and Justin Cooper, and will include daily news, photos, and insights from Haiti regarding the state of health care two months after the earthquake. For a brief overview of this project, please see our release on the EWH website. The Indy staff is our neighbor at our downtown Durham office, and I would be remiss if I did not thank them for graciously sharing both this space for us to blog. Thanks for following our story this week! -Justin

For more info about EWH, please visit www.ewh.org or email info@ewh.org

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