Last night, Mom and I were on the night shift. Things were pretty hectic from 4 to 6:30. But after supper, things were pretty calm and we both decided that 8-12 is definitely our favorite shift!
One really encouraging thing was that we had a number of patients make a point to thank us for our help and ask God to bless us for it. But they said something else that bothered us: that no one died last night because we (the foreigners) were there. This statement reflects a big problem (and one that makes us uncomfortable) in Haiti; the people think that foreigners are better than their own providers. In this way, foreigners who come in trying to "help" often unwittingly intimidate and disempower the Haitian people. I, personally, don't want any part in this cycle, and I wholeheartedly admire the Haitian staff for their sacrifice.
Yesterday morning, Dr. Steve encouraged us to make our best efforts to form community with the Haitian staff. Up until now, there has not been a lot of communication between the foreign volunteers and the Haitian staff, largely because of the language barrier. We have been able to relieve their pressure, but mostly each group has done its own thing, working more around each other than with each other.
So after supper, Mom and I took Steve's advice to heart and used our wits and resources to try to build up friendships with the staff--bribery with leftover cookies! Well, people are people everywhere, and who doesn't like a cookie? But the cookies were really just a convenient excuse to introduce ourselves and talk with them. Throughout the rest of the evening, we were able to relieve some of the burden on the Haitian nurses and doctors who have been working around the clock for the last few weeks. But since things were pretty calm, we also got to talk and laugh with them so much! It was the most fun I've had in a while.
The staff especially love my mom. It helps that she knows a decent amount of Kreyol (although you would never know it if you hear her berate her own skills) and also that she has a sense of humor in which she is not afraid to risk making a fool of herself. The staff and patients love her for it! We actually stayed until 1am instead of midnight because we were so busy talking and laughing.
Mom and I also had the chance to talk to Dr. Manno for a good long time--quite an accomplishment because he is extremely busy right now. Manno is the medical director of Ebenezer clinic, so managing the cholera clinic is a whole second job on top of that. At first I was kind of scared of him, but now I appreciate him more and more with every encounter we have. He is hilarious, too, something that always helps. :)
I came away from last night feeling--once again--encouraged, filled with joy, ever-more impressed with the Ebenezer Clinic and staff, and actually looking forward to work tonight!