My journey to Haiti was lovely, but also arduous. I flew from Madrid to Miami where I spent the night before flying on to Port-au-Prince on Sunday morning. As agreed, I was picked up punctually and given a warm welcome. The weather was beautifully sunny and warm, but as soon as we had left the airport it was no longer like paradise, you can see straight away that this country is ruled by poverty.
Unfortunately I suffered a slight hitch because my rucksack didn’t arrive. Of course that was very annoying, but it can happen now and again. My biggest problem was making myself understood at the airport, and it looked as if they couldn’t find it. I was very warmly welcomed when I got to Deschapelles, and they helped me right away with the most important hygiene items and clothing. I didn’t get my luggage back until Thursday evening. That was quite some time, but Cornelia was astonished that the local office had managed to get my rucksack back so quickly, because it appears that nobody in Haiti pays much attention to organisation and planning.
At first I was a little surprised because all the patients are so amazingly patient and just sit there and wait until somebody looks after them.
Not like in Germany where everybody thinks of themselves first, and everything has to be done here and now, even if others were there first and have to wait.
Of course, that may be due to the fact that the Haitians don’t have to pay for their medical care.
No matter when the patients arrive, with an appointment or without, with major or minor problems, nobody’s stressed, and nobody causes stress.
Even if they’ve been dealt with long before, they might just sit on the veranda for the rest of the day talking or simply enjoying the shade.
A woman with a lower limb prosthesis came to us and asked us to repair it. It immediately became clear to me that this could never happen in Germany. The high-quality foot with its carbon spring didn’t have a cosmesis or a shoe, and was totally worn down. The patient came to us holding the cosmesis which was worn through and completely wrecked. She must have been walking around like that for a couple of weeks. She was only given a new foot because the rest was OK. She thanked us with a smile on her face and then went home.
The people are very grateful in contrast to their demands, which are very low. Even if the prosthesis wasn’t lovely to look at, you soon noticed that the appearance was only secondary, and she was very happy to have a prosthesis that worked.
My colleagues, the patients, and the other volunteers at Albert Schweitzer Hospital were very friendly, and I was given a warm welcome wherever I went.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank again all my colleagues, the volunteers, and the medi company for making all this possible.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Deschapelles and it was certainly an experience I would never have wanted to miss and would love to repeat at any time.