Upon arriving at the Villa, we retired to our room for some decompression and reflection before dinner. Around 5:30 pm a tall brunette woman who seemed to be in her early 30s walked into our room with a backpack and a huge duffle bag. Her name was Kris Thede, and she had just finished an 8 hour journey from Cap-Haitien to Port Au Prince to lend her medical expertise to the innumerable wounded.
We were thrilled to see her. Personally, I was hoping to get some wound care tips that I could implement at the Hospital the following day, but her story was so fascinating that I quickly forgot my original motivation for talking to her.
Kris and her husband Cory have been living in North Haiti for over nine years. Kris is a doctor that runs a medical clinic near her home in Capacian, and her husband is a horticulturist that focuses on nutritious and lucrative crops that fit in with local agriculture. I was knocked back with how modest yet powerful her commitment to Haiti was.
Kris was also a wealth of information. We learned only that evening that Haiti was the first Black Republic in the entire world, and suffered great international prejudice because of it, including non-recognition from the Catholic Church and the United States.
We learned that women in general don’t know how to appropriately use the birth control pill, and are afraid of other hormonal contraceptives that stop menstruation because they believe bleeding is healthy. This greatly contributes to the unhealthy birthrate in Haiti. Another contributing factor is of course the religious and cultural pressure to have many kids. Large families are insurance for parents, and many forms of contraception are deemed ‘wrong’ by the according religious institutions.
We learned that Haiti’s tribal worship colors their Christian beliefs. As the saying goes, Haiti is 50 percent Catholic, 50 percent Protestant and 100 percent Voodoo.
We learned that the fruit of the Moringa tree is one of the most nutritional foods one can consume that thrives in Haiti’s climate. Kris said she gives out a packet of seeds to every patient she treats.
And so the night went. We picked her brain until we were sure we had sucked the life out of her. But she seemed perfectly content to share her knowledge, which just increased our immediate affection for her.
I went to sleep that night exhilarated that someone had come who was so wise and knowledgeable and could potentially help me transform from a useless amateur to an efficient wound-dresser of sorts. I slept better that night than I had since we left Houston, TX.