PUBLISHED ON September 16th, 2010
This morning was somewhat a blur…Those of us that flew into Miami last night met in the lobby at our hotel to load up boxes of product and equipment while those that caught red eyes and early morning flights met at the airport. When we landed in Haiti we were bussed to the customs warehouse and baggage claim.
We were then greeted by our host, Terry Boucard, whose family owns Boucard Pest Control…they are the only surviving pest control company in Haiti and now run an operation of over 100 employees with a variety of services including waste management.
The drive to our hotel was eye opening…a culture shock to the many of us that had not seen the lifestyle/poor living conditions of a 3rd world country…as we watched the endless tent communities, and piles of once standing structures now turned to rubble that overwhelm their crowded, filthy streets.
The hotel we’re staying was once a 4 story beautiful resort location that was also a place where many of the privileged locals would come for drinks and live music. It’s located higher up on a mountain with a great view of Port au Prince. The earthquake took all but the employee living quarters for the resort, which is where we are staying…the windows don’t shut here and they don’t have screens. (Thank goodness we’re prepared with Thermacell mosquito repellant!)
Our first day in Haiti was spent at Grace Children’s Hospital that used to serve as the best Tuberculosis hospitals in Haiti. The earthquake ruined their structures and left them without necessary resources…so many died during the earthquake when this hospital collapsed, now patients are treated in tents out in the courtyard. We found storage rooms of food unorganized and unsanitary with obvious signs of rodents, fly, ants, and mosquito activity – Our group of 24 split up into teams to address each of those concerns.
The smell of stagnant water was unbearable, the operating room windows did not have any screens to protect them…as we fanned out to put our expertise to work we could see excited children through the windows curious and happy to know we were their to help protect them from further disease. We also had very curious looks by the Haitian community as we crossed the street between facilities. The hospital is actually in the process of rebuilding and is hoping to have several small structures completed and ready to move patients into soon, and we are building more mosquito netting screens for their windows to install before we leave.
Our other task – to make our visit even more impactful – is to train some of the Boucard Pest Control Technicians in IPM tactics to prepare them for daily maintenance, control, and monitoring to be carried out 5 days a week. There is also no garbage or waste management to aid in keeping the property sanitary, so this facility will be receiving a dumpster.
By the time we got to the bus to head back to the hotel everyone was exhausted, covered in sweat, and wishing we could do more for these hospitals. We made a huge dent today and will be even more effective tomorrow, with half a day’s work under our belt and being somewhat acclimated to the heat and humidity!
After the long day we headed to the hotel, exhausted (smelling not so fresh) and ready for dinner.