Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti - when the dust settles

Day 3. Evidently that is the day that the dust settles and the feelings hit. Panic. Distress. Worry. Fear. Grief. Disbelief. Questioning. It's not an obvious thing. People go about their day. They get up, they get dressed, they do their job, they eat their food.

The clinic is open. People come for their various ills. A man has had a gaping wound on his leg for 3 years, oozing puss. He comes in today to get it seen with the American doctor. A child has a fever, and infant has worms.

But also, you ask how people are doing. Sad. A friend in university is dead. A relative has no home. No one can call. No one can go. The phones are down. The roads are not passable. The planes are not flying. Slowly images of devastation trickle in.

In our camp, the Americans who came down to help are not really doing that. They are scared. They talk to loved ones in the States who see awful things on the news, and fear for us who are here. They don't understand that we are safe. We have food. We have shelter. We have people to look after us and help us. But the fear has settled in, and there's no dislodging it now. "We must get out, we must get out. How can we go? When can we go?" Low grade fear, beneath every thought and every action.

Well, can I blame them? They haven't been here before. They don't know that the wheels here turn slowly. Things get done, but not like in the States. It doesn't always look like progress is getting made. One person talks to the next. The news travels. We know where to go and who to talk to in order to get the best news. The right news. Someone we know is back from the Dominican border, so he gives a report. It's someone we trust. So we know what is happening. But the Americans. They don't understand. Do they need more fanfare? Or does it just need to show up on CNN in order for it to be true?

I am safe and I am fine. Ugh. It was better before the feelings settled in.

No comments: