Obviously, we haven't had the time to post much lately. In addition to resuming our pre-stress-leave workloads, one of Ben's brothers returned to Haiti with us for two weeks. Caleb is an ER nurse and has been volunteering days at CDTI, a hospital downtown. We also have friends, F and J, living with us who have returned to Haiti after losing everything they own in the earthquake.
Since the earthquake, we've often wished we had more practical skills to offer Haiti in this time. What I wouldn't have given to have medical training on the night of the 12th and following days! Although I recognize the long-term importance of what both Ben and I are able to do here, having Caleb come home from the hospital everyday makes my 10 hour day of working on policy recommendations feel awfully unproductive. Nevertheless, here we are typing away (me) and taking pictures (Ben)...
We've both noticed that upon returning to Haiti, all of that healthy grief we were processing has been shoved back under the rug (or in perhaps in this case, the tres kokoyè). Not only do we not have the time or energy to sit down and have good, long cries these days, but as soon as we stepped off the plane we reverted to our pre-stress-leave coping mechanisms for dealing with what's happening in Haiti.
Speaking of our stress leave, we spent some of our time in Akron reading letters that accompanied individual donations to the Haiti Earthquake Response and were impressed by how much our organization's constituents trust us to use their money wisely. This filled us with a heavy sense of responsibility. It's humbling and healthy to be reminded of where our money comes from and of the expectations (as well as the personal prayers and encouragement) that accompany it. It made me glad - possibly for the first time? - that I don't earn a salary that will come out of that money and it made me feel guilty because I'm pretty sure that when Sammy in Alaska donated $2.50 "so that Haitians can have beds and other stuff", he didn't intend for it to be put towards the new solar panel on our house. This kind of debate is something we're constantly confronted with. Eating a meal in a restaurant across the street from an IDP camp. Buying a bouquet of flowers in front of a street kid. How to balance our spending and lifestyle so that it's healthy and sustainable for us and at the same time doesn't distance us too much from our Haitian brothers and sisters... this will never be easy.
We think Luna the 5-month old kitten might be pregnant. We returned to Haiti to find her going through what we can only assume was her first heat cycle. Awesome.
Local yogurt is available in the grocery stores again and mango season is in full swing.
With a combination of the aforementioned solar panel and irregular state electricity, we've had pretty consistent power since we returned, which also means pretty consistent running water.
There were two sizable aftershocks the day before yesterday and WE DIDN'T FEEL THEM. This seems like somewhat of an accomplishment after more than a month of jumping at the slightest vibration. Also, we are sleeping inside and sleeping just fine.
This weekend, pending the arrival of 20,000 MCC relief kits that Ben will need to photograph, we hope to take Caleb backpacking in the mountains.
A final note:
It has rained almost daily since we returned. Rainy season always presents a challenge for the urban poor in Haiti and, post-earthquake, those challenges are even more pronounced.