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|Hope in the Ruins - Page 3|
Four Days in Papaye
During our four days in Papaye, we stay at the MPP site that includes the Lakay Training Center (where most of our workshops will be held) and a camp for internally displaced persons (an IDP camp). This is the first time in our international projects that we've lived and and worked at an IDP camp. Within the barren cinderblock building where we'll be staying, the accommodations and bathroom facilities are extremely basic. As soon as we arrive, I get busy rigging up my mosquito net. Later I learn that the bathroom shower is a cold, intermittent drizzle—which comes as no surprise. Somehow, living under the same conditions as the people we're working with seems fitting.
All sorts of noises surround us at night, especially howling and barking dogs. During the day, you can see how skinny they are, with their ribs sticking out, and that most are covered with battle scars. At meals, I take to throwing my potatoes under the table to make sure that at least a couple of them will have full tummies when they go out for their night of howling. But it's the lizards that make the loudest, strangest sounds at night—like the metal sheets that old radio shows used for the sound effects of thunder. Last but not least are the mice that are everywhere. One night, a mouse gets into the energy bars I'd left high on a shelf and makes a big racket having a feast. When I finally get up and noisily turn on my lantern, it scurries away over my duffel bag.
Two nights ago, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. to drumming and chanting from the jungle that lasted for hours. It turns out it was a voodoo ceremony accompanying a funeral. Instead of being put out that my sleep was being interrupted, I lay there entranced. I could feel the visceral pull of a culture that's seen so much suffering over the centuries facing this latest catastrophe, not with grim solemnity, but with a let-it-all-hang-out celebration of a communal spirit that transcended the individual loss. I wondered how the earthquake survivors I'd be working with might be able to tap in to that spirit to deal with the suffering that lay ahead.
We're told that there's been no food distribution up here in the mountains since the earthquake. More than 600,000 people have fled an utterly shattered Port-au-Prince for rural areas that, so far, have received little humanitarian aid. Malnutrition, on a scale even greater than before the earthquake, is on the rise. Sadly, we're told that some of the farm families have begun eating their own seeds—which means that when the planting season comes, they'll have nothing to plant.
During our days in Papaye, we conduct a series of introductory TRM-C skills workshops with camp residents and local first responders from various groups affiliated with MPP. We also do a brief orientation for staff at a rural medical clinic and at St. ThŽrse Hospital in the nearby town of Hinche. The hospital psychologist tells us she's the only trained mental health professional serving a population of 600,000, and that she hasn't been paid for more than a year.