HERE IN HAITI by Caryn Wooster

16 of us met at DC's Reagan National Airport at 4:00  a.m. on Thursday and began our journey to Haiti via Miami where we met up with our 2 docs from Portland, Oregon. It's really hard to believe that in just a few hours, we would find ourselves in another country and a completely different world.  The small group that came in March said that things were much less chaotic and crowded at the airort than when they were here just 2 months earlier, as many of the relief workers and military presence have headed home. We were on the road from the Port-au-Prince airport headed north-west to Montrouis before noon, as we looked out the window of the big yellow school bus in wonder at our surroundings. We caught little glimpses of the devastation of the earthquake, but did not pass through the areas which were really hit hard. They also noticed that many of the temporary tents had moved out into different areas where before, many tents were right along the main road.  There are still tents cities set up all over the place, and as we melted in the heat on the bus, we wondered how hot the temps got inside of those tents with little ventilation. It is HOT here.

The countryside was scattered with skinny cows and horses looking for something to nibble on in what used to be a lush landscape years ago, but is now barren and desert-like. Life here exists outside - people are in the streets selling anything and everything, bathing in a bucket out front of their stick-homes, talking with their neighbors, kids playing with sticks and broken-down bicycles if they are lucky.

Eden Garden Orphanage, our host, is located in Montrouis which is about 50 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince, but it took more like 2 1/2 - 3 hours it seemed, to reach our destination. When we arrived, we were greeted by the children with a welcome song, and then they spread out into the crowd for hugs and handshakes, looking for the right person that would be their friend this week. Some people, like Pastor Ann (the EGO rock star) had several kids hanging on to her, hugging her, playing with her hair. Everyone chose someone, and it wasn't long before babies were asleep on shoulders and friends were made.

Then we started going through all the luggage of medicines that needed to be sorted and separated for out medical clinic that would begin on Friday, and then decided to head to the hotel to get a shower and a meal. Oh, did that shower and an air-conditioned room feel good after hours in the sweltering heat.  Supper was rice, goat meat, coleslaw, beet salad. We had a little talk about the day's events and got to hear from the first-timers what their impressions were of Haiti. They agreed that nothing could prepare them for what they saw. Some planning was done for Friday, medicines were dosed and bagged for the medical clinic and we called it a night.