Yesterday was our first clinic at St. Vincent’s school for the handicapped. Arriving in the rain, which happens almost every afternoon here in Haiti, we quickly set up our medicines, books, and supplies in the upstairs clinic space. The kids and staff were already waiting in the clinic for us to begin, jostling for chairs, laughing and kidding with one another. Amongst them were many blind children, others with missing arms or legs, some with less severe handicaps, and the staff who either lived with them or worked in the school.
We had an interpreter, JoJo, who I spoke about before in a previous post. He has no arms or legs, sits in a wheelchair, answers his cell phone with his tongue! speaks english very well, and seems to be the Master of Ceremonies at St. Vincents. He was a great help, as he knows all the kids, had a great connection with each of them, and was super motivated to help us help them.
What did we treat? Mostly problems we encounter anywhere, headaches, indigestion and heartburn, ear infections, back aches. However, two things stood out for me, which were not things I encounter in my practice in California.
One was related to the prevalence of voo-doo in the minds of the Haitians. Some spoke of family members who believed who were superstitious about why they fell sick. For instance, one young man had fallen into a delirium after the earthquake where he felt he did not know where he was and had lain in bed for months, unable to attend school. His relatives thought it was the cause of a curse, or spirits. This is a real impediment to treatment because if you believe that is the cause, then why seek out medical treatment? It could not possibly help, they may conclude.
The other was the underlying sadness of the situation and their response to it. In Homeopathy we not only are treating the physical symptoms of the person, but also the emotional state and mental state. So the best cases, the easiest ones to treat, are those where the physical and emotional symptoms point directly to the same remedy. This is not always true, especially in the states where cases are made complex from the heavy use of over the counter drugs, prescription drugs, self-help books, and just our analytical focus. It leaves many people unable to clearly state what emotions they are feeling. Here, the gift we were given as Homeopaths, was that not only could we clearly observe the internalization of their grief written on their faces and in their body position, but also the physical symptoms were in line with the most commonly needed remedy for internalized grief, Natrum-Muriaticum. So while not ALL the people needed this remedy, we gave it to about 50% or more of them.
So, altogether it was an instructive and exhilarating day of treatment. I look forward to Friday, when we will see people from outside the school. We have no idea what to expect, which is the norm in Haiti. Something I have had to acclimate to, as things are very different here, and even when you think you know what is going to happen, something entirely different occurs!
Photos by Yair Ademar Romero Sikorski