Today's Blog from Deschapelles is being sent to you all by Ian Rawson’s son, Edward who was working in New Orleans and immediately made plans to travel to Haiti upon receiving news of the Earthquake.
Once the truck was all unloaded I got to sit down with my pops and reflect on the weeks before. It had been hard on him, I could see it in his eyes, and I could tell by how quick he would well up, and how little he wanted to talk about the tragedies he witnessed. I could tell he hadn't been sleeping much and he was becoming very attached to many patients from spending so much time in the halls doing what he could to make them feel better.
Albert Schweitzer Hospital is in the center of the country in the Artibonite Valley, in a town called Deschapelles. It was far enough from the center of the quake that it did not sustain much structural damage which is great news for all those I love here, and great for the hospital my grandparents built in the 50's. It was even better news for the victims 2.5 hours away in Port au Prince. Many of the hospitals in the city had been leveled or were severely damaged by the quake and were not in use immediately after. HAS was the first response in many cases.
Even when I got here two weeks after the big shake, I saw the hospital filled way beyond capacity. I had never in my life seen so many people at this hospital. Many patients were placed in the halls and their loved ones slept under their cots on the ground.
It was a trying first week as many faced surgery, while others got bandages changed and began the healing process. Thankfully there were finally some pain killers here. Even with them, some patients wailed in agony. If I close my eyes I can still picture one man screaming on my first day here as a nurse peeled away blood soaked bandages to reveal exposed muscle on his arm. Across the hall a few feet away a man sat quietly watching with his left leg wretchedly broken in several places and yet the surgeons so overloaded still did not have time to operate yet, so he sat and waited patiently for his turn.
All in all you could see the hope in the eyes of all people here. Every patient seemed relieved they made it this far, and knowing they were in good hands with the doctors and care HAS was providing. They were gonna make it through this and they knew it.
The patients were also relieved to know that regardless of how much care was required, it wouldn't even cost them a penny because HAS is supported by generous donations from all over the world.
Edward Rawson is a mural artist who has been creating public art designed and painted by disadvantaged youth in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Brazil and recently in Haiti. Follow other images and video clips at www.edwardrawson.com .