13 February 2011

Someone asked me how my week was going and all I could say was "ummm... (long pause)... interesting???"

This week was a week of some really exciting personal accomplishments - and also some of the most difficult professional issues I have ever faced. All while working way too much (a 16 hour day, everyday, anyone?), not eating or sleeping enough, and running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I spent 5 days in the field, and one day in the office (yes that adds up to 6 days...), but even the day I was in the office I was in meetings most of the day. Let's just say that it was a crazy week.

A Mobile Clinic in a camp at the Border

This week, I had planned to go to visit some camps with a few other colleagues. Myself, I was doing it from the cholera perspective - I needed to understand some of the activities that were going on at the camps, because we had some confusions about it, as well as getting the gps coordinates for some of our activities. So Monday, we met to discuss how we would go about it, and ended up leaving around noon. It was an awesome day. I went to camps I had not been to before, some which were particularly beautiful. We got to talk with camp committee members and viewed projects. I went with my housemate, L, who speaks French and English, and a few other colleagues. L was doing a great job translating for the rest of us non-French speakers. Well, something in me - impatience I think - just decided, "I don't want to wait for L to translate for me - I can do it myself." And all of a sudden, I was communicating in French! It was very helpful to have L around because if there were things I did not know, I could ask her for assistance, but just the fact that I was able to communicate, as in have a conversation with the people, is MASSIVE!!! Yay! Accomplishment Number 1! And as it turned out, I was able to go to other camps on Tuesday with just myself and the liaison officer  - My French is definitely not good by any means, but just the fact that I am able to communicate makes me say "Brain, it's about time" haha. But French lessons should still help some. 
Conducting cholera prevention awareness trainings to children.
Later on in the week, I had some meetings scheduled in the evening up one of the mountains here. And when I say mountain, I mean mountain. We hike it occasionally. But this mountain road is not like most mountain roads in the States. I mean, we are in Haiti - roads are bad here. This road is steep, slippery in some parts, not paved in others, and only wide enough for 1 car. I was driving a manual land rover, which is a very powerful, very big car. I am used to driving it now around all the small hills and traffic of Petion-ville, where our office is, but driving up the mountain was a challenge. Particularly, since I was not completely sure where the house was. Well, let me tell you. There were a few instances where the car was not going forward. No, it was going backwards...with cars behind me! I quickly became accustomed to using the hand brake to help me get going - but it was a stressful experience. When I arrived at the house, I wanted to just fall on the ground and breathe. Accomplishment Number 2! Making it up the mountain without dying or killing anyone else or ruining a very expensive vehicle. I think driving in Haiti is going to make me a much better driver than I used to be...

The other days spent in the field included conducting trainings, visiting cholera treatment sites, getting GPS information, and assisting with some trainings on cholera prevention. I went out to our projects at the border, visited some beautiful remote areas of Haiti, went to other camps - one camp I visited twice in one week! Days spent in the field are long, exhausting, but so invigorating at the same time. Being able to discuss with the community about our projects, to find out suggestions they have, and to get their feedback is excellent. Lots of time is spent in vehicles, but its great, and I hope it will help to direct the work we do. 

Rural Haiti. Much different than Port-au-Prince
This week, there were also some very difficult moments professionally. As my job comes to a close (in 3 weeks!), there are issues to be figured out - including what I am doing next - and conversations that need to take place. I do not want to go into details about what happened, but let's just say that it was very stressful, discouraging, and occupied much of my thought process this week. But I think I handled it in the best way that I could - Accomplishment Number 3! - and will hopefully know a bit more about my situation this week. 

There were other accomplishments and challenges this week as well, but these first 3 are the ones that I spent most of the time thinking about. 

This weekend I have been trying to relax as much as possible - but that hasn't happened that much. I am very much starting to feel like I need R&R. But that will come. 

Every week in Haiti is different, I am learning. And the need is great. There is too much work and too little time. Let's see what these last few weeks of my job bring. 

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