Haiti earthquake diary: Not as bad as Rwanda?

Time spent with medics of the International Medical Corps offers an inspiring window on those still working hard two weeks after the quake.

By , Correspondent

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    Survivors of Haiti's earthquake wait in line to get rice from Argentinean UN troops at the Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince Thursday.
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Monday, Jan. 25

Men and women in International Medical Corps T-shirts and blue scrubs are all over The Plaza Hotel, where they’re staying – and scattered throughout the sprawling grounds of the University Hospital, a.k.a. HUEH (Hôpital de l'Université d'état d'Haiti)

Dr. Anil Menon, a young emergency and medical wilderness medic from Stanford, Calif., is thrilled to be part of the team. It’s his first time on an international mission, and talking to him I feel his enthusiasm. It’s refreshing. Uplifting.

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“This is why I went into medicine,” he says. “I want to make a difference, and this situation provides me the opportunity.”

The work he’s been doing for the last two weeks has changed. It went from pure overload of trauma cases to organizing the intake of patients. He misses the hands on; now he’s doing almost all logistical and administrative stuff.

Meanwhile, Dr. Brian Crawford is totally hands on. Today, he goes out with a small crew to Bolosse, on the western side of the capital, at the beginning of the road to Carrefour. I haven’t been on this part of the road since I arrived here just after the quake. It’s as awful as ever, full of water, sewage, and garbage.

If the earthquake made it work any better, I can’t see it. Merchants and resident still have to wade through the muck, as do the pigs.

The clinic where Dr. Crawford is working today is the Centre de Formation pour L’Ecole Fondamental – the oldest teaching college in the country. People inside the school courtyard have it a lot nicer than some of the other displaced I’ve seen. Their tents and tarps are scattered among small banana trees and green grass. A slight reprieve from the brutal sun and now proverbial dusty air elsewhere in Port-au-Prince.

The residents have chosen leaders to take on various challenges facing their community: Health, food, water, housing. Impressive.

Crawford saw between 60-70 people yesterday. There is at least twice that many in line now.

Back at HUEH, another doctor says this is not his first overseas mission. He’s been to Somalia, Pakistan, the 2004 tsunami (Banda Aceh, Indonesia), and this is among the worst.

But Lucy, a young dynamic EMC nurse, says Rwanda has it all over Haiti.

If Rwanda has been able to right itself after its civil war and genocide, I have to believe that there’s hope for Haiti, too.

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