Studenter med Haiti
During our stay in Saint Louis du Sud (SLdS) we quickly learned that there are more than a few organisations in the municipality working hard to change SLdS for the better.
When Edwin was elected mayor, he was given a huge responsibility, many tasks – and no funding. However, the word spread quickly about the enthustiaptic mayor with the big smile. When Edwin organized a workshop in the very beginning of his elected period, he was glad to see all the local and national resourses; both people and organisations that came to put their heads together.
Edwin also tells that many international organisations have contacted him. In Haiti, its not easy to know who to work with, a lot of organisations are restrained to initiate collaboration with the local authorities, and when they do, they often tend to set the conditions, instead of the other way around. In the “republic of NGOs”, many organisations have come and left, often with no lasting sustainable impact.
However, the mayor have already agreed some organisations to work with him. Becauce of this, one of the first days in SLdS we found ourselves among a cheering crowd in of the neighbouring villages, where the german organisation ASB (Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund), had just installed a water pump and tank, thus providing clean water for years to come. During our mobile clinics we would later see many pumps from ASB, realising how crucial their job is in providing healthcare. “I love working with Biram (Ndiaye; the national director of ASB Haiti), because he loves Haiti” Edwin adds with a smile when we asked about their collaboration. A total of 13 waterpumps have been installed in the region, and many more will follow – and this is just a tiny part of ASB operations in the area.
A little later in our stay, Ingvill and Edwin received an e-mail from dr Jesús Alvelo from the puertorican organisation Alianza de Médicos al Rescare (A.M.A.R). This group of medical doctors, nurses, social workers, dentists etc, quickly offered their help after the hurricane Matthew that hit SLdS with devastating force in october 2016. They were now asking for a meeting with the mayor regarding future collaboration. We asked if we could join this exciting meeting, and next thing we were on our way to the capitol.
Driving back to Port-au-Prince felt exiting. We were given an adress to locate a hospital runned by the A.M.A.R group. And at the same time an hour-long demonstration in how a haitian adress works in practice. We were given an exact adress, which in Norway, where we have road and street signs, and houses are numbered, would take us straight to our destination. Edwin explained us the difference between a norwegian and an haitian adress. In Haiti things work differently, you have to ask for someone to direct you; “take right at the gasstation, continue until you see the lottery booth, then make a left..”
Finally we stopped at a gate on a dirt road. The outside could not prepare us for what was hiding behind the wall. A lovely, only two year old pediatric hospital with accompanying guesthouse. We were immediatly met by smiling faces, many cheers and hugs to Ingvill and Edwin from people who had been in SLdS.
Then a tour followed. It was truly inspiring to see how they were working, a small fee for each patient, medicine for retail price. Then we met the man in charge, Dr Alvelo. A smiling man with plenty of energy to go around. “This is not a job, its a hobby”, he laughs. He then talks to Edwin about the future, he says his organisation has been looking for someone to cooperate with in the south of Haiti, “and then we met you!”. We all agreed on how inspiring a puertoricean, norwegian haitian collaboration would be. “Lets make it happen!”. Ingvill and Edwin will be meeting the A.M.A.R group in Puerto Rico this spring.
In the meantime Dr Alvelo will come to visit Tromsø. We wish him a warm welcome, and look forward to the future!
NB! Kristine met with Dr Alvelo and his fellow travellers, Alba, Hector and Jacquelin (who all worked for A.M.A.R. and had all been in Saint Louis du Sud to help out after Hurricane Matthew) in Tromsø for a beautiful afternoon in the winter sun. Tromsø welcomed our colleagues with a magical full sky of Northern Lights later that night – we believe our partnership for Saint Louis du Sud’s health will be just as magical!
Written by Johanna, Kasper and Kristine