Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas, Culture shock, Cold and Cholera!!

After being at the clinic for too many hours everyday and night working with our patients who have cholera I hadn't even thought about Christmas. However on Thursday Hannah, Matt, Stacey and I had to go to the Dominican to renew our visas. We have to leave Haiti every three months and unfortunately for us the quickest and cheapest place to go is the Dominican Republic. Hannah and I were more than ready to go on Thursday afternoon when Matt and Stacey came to get us as we were both in need of some rest.

We got through the border no problems even though Hannah and I had been working with cholera patients just a few hours beforehand. As we were driving through the DR it started to get dark and then I saw the first Christmas tree. After that every time any of us saw one it was like look at that one, look at those was like we were kids again and amazed at everything. We had the Christmas music on looking at the Christmas trees, then we arrived at the ridiculously cheap all inclusive hotel. As we pulled up we saw this huge Christmas tree, straight away we had to get out and look and take photos of the tree.
of course then as soon as we got back home we put our Christmas tree up in the house. Its so hard to even think about Christmas in Haiti especially with people suffering so much. The other reason is because it is hot and sunny and it really only feels Christmas at dark time when the Christmas lights go on.

Our christmas tree

Back to the hotel, while we were waiting for our rooms to be ready the guy at the desk told us to go and eat.  We went into the huge dining room and all 4 of us just wondered around for a while (Im sure we had our mouths open) before we even knew what to do. There was so much food, we didn't know where to start so we started with the drinks. Hannah was the best, she went over to get some coke, it was like the drinks machines you see at Mcdonalds. Hannah filled one glass up, drunk it and continued to do the same thing over and over was hilarious!!Finally we chose something to eat, thing we could not get in Haiti.....Pizza, pickles, fries, cucumber. and strawberry ice cream.

Talk about culture shock. On paper the Dominican is a third world country yet I felt like I was in the States. The roads were all paved, all the houses had electricity (with christmas tress!!), there was road signs, traffic lights,  the shop was about the size of Tesco's and you can find everything you need. It was just overwhelming to go from working in our cholera clinic and just that morning seeing a little girl arrive with cholera who was already dead in her dad's arms. To a place where we could eat whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted and lie by the pool, go to the shop and find what we needed or just what we wanted (granny smith apples!!). It actually made me wonder how the human mind copes with that sort of change in just a few hours. I felt so far away from Haiti........yet it was just a 5 hour drive away.

One of the things I find hard being in Haiti is being a 'blanc' and all the things that come with that. No matter how long I live in Haiti if I speak Creole perfectly, carry things on my head, hand wash my clothes do everything Haitian I will always stand out just by being white. Being in a resort full of 'blancs' it was so nice not to stand out. Saying that we were the only people wearing jeans and hoodies in the evenings when everyone else was out in their summer dresses!!! The next day it was cloudy and overcast, still crazy british people were out by the pool in their swimming stuff and then us, the missionaries from Haiti feeling cold!!Jeans and hooides again for everyone.We were sitting by the pool with Lily (Matt and Stacey's daughter who is just 22 months), there was a lady beside us reading a book and Lily went over and said 'is that your bible?' It was too cute and she was very dissapointed to find out it wasn't, the lady actually apologised because Lily looked so sad. Maybe we didn't blend in as much as we thought!!!

The trip was mainly to renew our visas but we also got a time of rest, we had lots of fun together especially as we dont see Matt, Stacey and Lily much because they live in Sakenvil at the seminary. We were also able to buy lots of supplies for the clinic thanks to a very generous donation to some people from home. There are so many supplies which we need in the clinic which are so difficult to find in Haiti and if we do find them they are very expensive. We were able to buy lots of baby formula, nappies, baby bottles, baby wipes and sheets all of which we desperately needed.

We are back to work in our chlolera clinic which still has a steady flow of patients. In the past 2 weeks we have treated over 60 patients and all of them have got better and been sent home. Thankfully this week we hae two doctors and two nurses here on a team which is great. We are thankful for the rest, for the supplies we were able to get for the clinic and that we had no problems getting there or coming back.


  1. Hi Julie, Im glad you all had a wee break and Christmas has arrived in haiti! It has'nt arrived at home yet-far too early for me (as you know)! Everyone at church thinking and praying for you constantly! Speak to you soon,
    Love mum. xx

  2. it really only feels LIKE Christmas at dark time...common, Julie



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