After spending time at Fr. Glenn's mission we trekked back to Port-au-Prince. The bumpy, twisting mountain roads out of Hinche took us past disparate scenes. Beautiful vistas of large lakes, forests and distant mountains were contrasted with dusty desert, precarious shacks, and the polluted haze of distant Port-au-Prince.
Our first stop along the way was at Imagine Mission, an orphanage run by a woman named Melissa. She is currently serving year six of her one year residency. Yes, she's dedicated. We set up our clinic in a building made of breeze-block, which protected us from a very windy, dusty and bright sunny environment. The kids were beautiful and energetic. They were so excited to get some attention from new people.
A group of boys came to the clinic right after school let out. They were bouncing around, poking each other, goofing off...being 10 year olds. So, Gary and I decided it was time for a dance party.
One of the things that most impressed me about Imagine is that Melissa is intent on raising educational standards for her kids. The national standard is a score of 5 out of 10 on exams. She insists on students aiming for a 7, and many of them surpassed that on their latest scorecards. She also feeds them very well and goes against a common approach of "keeping orphans skinny and dirty so that people will pity them and donate money."
From Imagine we journeyed on into Port-au-Prince to set up a two-day clinic at Grace Children's Hospital. Over the two days we were able to examine over 1,000 people. The doctors recommended surgery for many people, others were fit with glasses and sunglasses, many received eye drops and antibiotics, and others were given a clean bill of health. Some of the elements that are most harmful to people's eyes in Haiti are the ever-present dust, strong sunlight, and lack of clean water.
After two great days at Grace Children's Hospital we visited HIS House for Children, an orphanage that serves children suffering from hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. Several young men and women from HIS House were interpreters for us when we worked at Grace. HIS House has also taken in women that were abused in the post-earthquake temporary villages. We spent a long time playing with the kids.
Driving through Port-au-Prince, usually in the back of a truck, was a stark reminder of the daily struggle people here live. At the same time, everywhere you look there are reminders of the beauty and resiliency of this amazing place.