Tuesday afternoon we welcomed Janneke and Janelle from the Strathroy Providence United Reformed Church here at Coram Deo. On Wednesday morning we headed up Goat Mountain to drive to Mirebalais to the new University Hospital of Mirebalais. It is a joint mission/government hospital. I thought it would be a nice drive for the visitors to experience Haiti. It turned out to be full of action We knew something was wrong when we saw smoldering tire remnants and a water truck that had just put out a tire fire. Here is the story according to the pictures below.
Mirebalais is an old town and was founded in 1702. After we passed the smoldering tires a police checkpoint stopped us. They told us to turn around because if we continued we would be attacked by flying rocks. I told the policeman that we needed to get to the hospital because we were trying to find help for Junel. The haitian policeman told us to wait and to pull in a side street and to wait a minute.
A front end loader led by Haitian/UN police and UN soldiers, a water truck UN and Haitian police vehicles proceeded to head up the road. It was then that we heard shooting. The UN/police, loader and water truck all retreated back to where we were. That wasn't a good sign. We were sort of in an exposed position on the road and to protect Kimosabe and the visitors we headed across the street and entered the grounds of the medical clinic. We hid Kimosabe inside the clinic parking area so that he was free from flying rocks and bullets.
From a higher vantage point on the clinic grounds we watched the UN police. The UN soldier was keeping an eye out.
The UN soldier is walking back from the street corner where we were originally parked.
There was a bit of a stand off and the water truck waited until the situation was under control.
The loader was on hold too.
The Haitian police arrested a protestor but before I could get a photo, someone told me that if I took a picture they would smash my camera. I didn't argue with them and put the camera in its bag and handed it to Amos for safe keeping. Amos took some photos of me. The man I am talking to on the right was friendly. He explained to me why the protest took place. The people of Mirebalais are angry because they are seeing jobs at the hospital being given to people outside of Mirebalais. They decided to hold a protest to show their displeasure. I told him that we needed to get to the hospital to find help for someone and he said that he would help us get through. The plan was for me and Amos to go on foot and the visitors and Luc to stay behind.
We noticed a motorcycle coming up the road from the direction of the protest and that was a good sign that the road was open.
I went back to the parking area to take Kimosabe out of hiding.
We had no problem getting to the hospital and the man who told us he would help us get through the protest was already at the hospital. He went ahead on his own to make sure we had no problems. We are thankful for this helpful friend! We went inside the hospital and spoke with the American director of programs. She told us that the hospital has a cancer program and would pass Junel's case on to the oncology team. For 50 gourds (1.25US$) care is given for patients no matter how extensive the care needs to be. In November 2013 a pediatric heart surgery program will begin. This hospital sees 800 patients a day and employs 700 haitians. I feel sorry for them. They can't give everyone in Mirebalais a job. Hopefully the people of Mirebalais settle down and understand that this hospital is trying to not just help Mirebalais but the entire country. We made some good contacts at the hospital and hopefully in the future we will be able to refer a lot of people there for surgeries. Pray for calm in Mirebalais and for the medical people working there.