A friend of mine is a pilot for Mission Aviation Fellowship down in Haiti. He sent this out to his e-mail list yesterday. I’m reposting it here because it is well said and deserves a lot of thought. Thank you, Michael Broyles, for the work that you do and for the way that you see it.
As I wait…
“There’s no rest for the weary.” Whoever said that nailed it!
I was looking forward to my day off. Last week was busy, and today…I finally get to rest. Or so I thought.
Karen let me know that I would be watching Elijah for the day as our house helper was sick. That sounded great. I had some errands I needed to complete and he loves running around with me and helping. We could even be back in time to pick up Kaydence from school.
As it turns out, our house help was pretty sick. As in she needed to go to the hospital for some severe pain / makes you cry, hard to breathe kind of sick. I quickly dressed Elijah and tried to cram some breakfast in him. I blended my coffee and out the door we went.
I took Yvertha to what is considered to be the best hospital in Port au Prince. As we drove up, the guards armed with 12 ga shotguns were hesitant to open the gate for us. I persisted and they caved and let me in. After jamming our car into something resembling a parking spot, we made our way through a sea of people – all there waiting. Waiting (many with their children) to see a doctor or for news of a loved one. Just waiting. Hundreds of them. And then we waited too. Outside, in the heat, with passing cars churning up dust and exhaust, alongside about 300 other people, sitting on concrete benches (if you are lucky enough to find a seat)… in such proximity to your fellow humans that you feel more like cattle, merchants trying to sell food and drinks through the razor-wire topped fence (no food or drinks available otherwise). Did I mention that we waited?
So here’s the basic procedure…as best as I could figure it out:
1) Go to the security guard and tell him your problem. He will then give you a sticker designating which doctor he believes you should see (no medical training involved).
2) Sit and wait with your sticker. After about 30 min, go find the guard and ask him for further directions. He will put you in line to be processed.
3) Wait in line and then present your ID card. (roughly 2 hrs)
4) Take your file and stand in line to be weighed and have your blood pressure, temp, and weight checked.
5) Take your file and move to the line to pay for the consult. (roughly 1 hr)
6) Wait to see the consulting person (2-3 hrs)
7) After the consult, you will be told if you need to see a doctor or not. If so, go pay in advance for that. If not, you will be given a list of meds you need to purchase.
8) Back in line to Pay for the meds, then proceed to the pharmacy to pick them up (another line).
9) Wait for the doctor. Oh, and they close at 4pm…so we were sent home and told to come back early tomorrow to see the doctor.
Basically, she spent a total of about 6 hrs at the hospital, and never saw a physician.
I needed to run errands close by and figured that if I was going to wait on the doctor, I may as well make it a productive wait. So off I went… to wait on a lady to finish a meeting so she could move her car and I could leave the hospital. Then to the electrical store… to wait. Their computers were down. I tried to make the best of it. I found a shaded spot to park, moved my car, and paced my time between talking with the workers, checking the IT guy’s progress, and trying to nap in the 95º car. I concluded I needed breakfast (around 2pm now), so I found some cookies and a new energy drink with 56g of sugar and 160 mg of caffeine. Close enough to calm my hunger and dull my headache. Finally after another 3 1/2 hrs the computers were up. I picked out my supplies and took my invoice to the next building over to pay. And you guessed it… I waited. The bank here has recently decided it does not like my US credit cards… and I’ve made a habit of not carrying cash. So after swiping, calling, swiping a different card, calling, and waiting some more… I could not complete the transaction and had wasted more than 4 hrs trying! Yvertha was ready to be picked up, so I went back to the hospital, loaded her up, and headed home. She never got to see the doctor. It’s more of the same tomorrow, only I do not have the day off and will try and juggle this with my flight schedule and other obligations. More waiting.
I expressed my frustration to Karen, “my entire day was wasted.” But was it? It’s way too easy to complain about life here, to blame things on Haiti being, well, Haiti. As we say in Kreyol, things here are “Tét Anba” – upside down sometimes. Today was rough. I had plans to install a lightning rod and associated wiring to the tower on my roof and hang out with my kids and maybe even relax a bit. Those plans were blown apart. I needed to take a friend to the hospital and wait. And in that waiting, in that frustration, I needed to slow down and look around me to see people.
Others, just like me were waiting too. Waiting for computers to be fixed, nurses to process their chart, doctors to say it’s too late to see them today and send them home in pain. And in the waiting, I had the opportunity to express love to a dear friend, an opportunity to make new friends. I took the opportunity to laugh and joke with others, to learn more about life and culture here. Together we waited. Together, we experienced life. Maybe my day wasn’t wasted after all. Maybe this wait was ordained.