Blog Post - HI Trip Day 4 by Sishir Chang, 01/18/17
Like everyday in this trip this day was both challenging and enlightening. For me though this day was perhaps most specific to me where my own background in architecture and first aid was used the most.
After breakfast i went with the coaches to the national stadium. As other days i havent had much to contribute to the soccer skills so mainly stuck to making sure there was enough water and Gatorade to keep everyone hydrated. As always Coaches Across Continents did a great job getting the Hatiians motivated and it was very moving hearing them chanting "OLE OLE OLE".
At about 11 though Jeff, Andy, Tony and myself left to go visit downtown. Downtown Port au Prince was very much a typical third world downtown. Hot, dusty, overcrowded and full of vendors hawking everything from electric guitars to fruit. What was different though was how much damage remained from the earthquake and how haphazard the repairs and replacement structures had been. Haiti like much of the third world largely uses concrete post and beam construction with masonry inflill. Most older buildings are built with brick using keystone arches for openings. Generally neither of these handle earthquakes very well and this was very evident with many structures in complete collapse or partial collapse. Even many of the standing structures showed classic earthquake damage with diagonal or "X" shaped cracks in them. Much of the repairs weren't done very well with new masonry construction on top of floor plates that were still damaged from earthquake. The earthquake was more than six years ago so it was interesting but also very disheartening to see how little progress was made combined with how poor some of the new construction was.
Even with how poor the state of the buildings were the Haitians still pressed on and the downtown was bustling vibrant. Every sidewalk and under every balcony were stalls. Not even a possibly broken water main turning part of downtown into a dirty smelly wetland could depress Haitian entrpenuership.
Before we left downtown we made one last stop at the central church of Port Au Prince. Before the earthquake this had been an impressive cathedral but now all of the glass was gone and the roof had sheared off leaving a picturesque ruin. More heartbreaking than the ruin was seeing a naked little girl run by with a distended belly, one of the main signs of malnutrition. Another reminder that for any progress Haiti has made there is still much much further to go.
In the afternoon went back to the Cite Soleil HI school. There I was going to teach the coordinators basic first aid. Just as i was getting started a child with a head wound came in. This was an opportunity to do hands on teaching and as I patched that child up I explained about pressure to stop the bleeding and washing a wound. They understood most of what i was doing but were more mystified when i took the child through the concussion protocol. Complicating things was my own difficulty communicating to child so i could take him through the protocal. As i finished treating the first child they brought in another child with an abrasion on her arm that she had been picking at. It was good they got to see the hands on training as due to language difficulties I'm not sure how much else they got and we decided to stop halfway because they were having difficulty absorbing all the knowledge.
The day ended with watching a beautiful sunset over Haiti from the deck of the guest house far different from the noise and the hear of the rest of the city.