Haiti Visit April 2012

 

Holly Manoogian, CCH, executive director of HWB, is currently coordinating another trip to Port-au-Prince, the second in a series of five training/clinic sessions planned for 2012. The first trip, completed in February 2012 with homeopaths Doug Brown, FNP, CCH, and Alyssa Wostrel, started the training series with 2 days of class for 19 students who have committed to the full schedule of seminars. Their training covered core concepts of homeopathic theory and common remedy differentials of flu, acute trauma, and diarrhea. In the subsequent 3 days of clinic, Holly, Doug and Alyssa saw more than 150 clients at community locations.

Doug Brown FNP CCH with the Haiti Class

Doug Brown FNP CCH with the Haiti Class

In the second session, Karen Allen, CCH has joined Holly in Port-au-Prince, and the two have just finished the second training seminar with 15 of the students. The two days of class emphasized eliciting detailed symptoms and matching client symptoms to remedy patterns, methods of administration of remedies, epidemic disease differentials for cholera, and concepts of genus epidemicus.

Karen teaches with translator PG in class

Karen teaches with translator PG in class

During class, Holly and Karen worked closely with HWB’s translator, a young man named PG Legerme Mhaidjid. PG translated the powerpoint presentation and assessment quiz into Kreyol, the native French-derived patois language. The class also used reference charts from Homeopaths Sans Frontier written in French. The students spoke Kreyol in class while PG translated in and out of English, with remarkable expression and occasional reference to a medical dictionary (pleurisy? Guillain-Barre? sinusitis?). PG is 21 years old, a college student in accounting. He learned English as part of a small group of teens that decided they wanted to become fluent; they met together, studying and practicing to develop their skills. After the earthquake, PG’s abilities as a translator came into good use, and he will continue working with HWB through the scheduled training/clinic sessions for the rest of this year.

A Powerpoint image in Kreyol

A Powerpoint image in Kreyol

Interesting questions abounded: how do you recognize the red face of belladonna fevers or red cheeks of ferrum phos acutes in a child with black skin? what plants in Haiti bring out the kinds of skin eruption resulting from poison ivy that might be met well by rhus tox? what remedies are best indicated for dengue fever, now epidemic in Dominican Republic and causing their shared border with Haiti to be closed? can remedies be used for prophylaxis in an epidemic, and how do we do that?

Port-au-Prince students in class

Port-au-Prince students in class

Teaching in this setting requires a different time line and skill set. HWB provides location, lunch and all materials, down to pads of paper, pens and 3×5 cards for the students to make study cards for remedies. During in-class exercises where the students work in small groups to analyze a case or define a differential, the teaching cues that can easily be picked up by politely eavesdropping in the background are not possible! Literacy speed of reading and writing is a factor to be considered, as the students work more slowly. Several of the students are nurses, current medical students or have other health care background; some have no medical background.

All are earnest in their desire to learn. The students are grouped into ‘clubs’ to study together between the training seminars, and each club has a remedy kit (donated generously by Hylands, WHP, Boiron, and Hahnemann Labs in their recent support for this project in Haiti) that was entrusted to them after the first class session. Students were asked to take cases of acute / first aid / injury complaints that had been taught in the first session. Some of these clubs were very active between the February session and this week’s class, discussing the training materials and cases of people who were asking for assistance, meeting to exchange remedies between them from the ‘club’ kit. Several told stories of having used remedies from their kits with good success. They kept charts of each remedy given, with details of the patient, indications for remedy selection and remedy/potency. In the column for ‘Response’, the students often simply wrote ‘Oui’ (yes) time after time when the symptoms improved.

Documentation for a clinic consult

Documentation for a clinic consult

Unlike in the USA where most of our clients are female, the students’ charts showed many remedies being given to men, although all ages / genders were included. One of the students, a tall man named Wolby Vernet, who was ready and waiting at the OPL class location when we arrived to teach the first day, told us of a case of a man with intense back pain who could not get into or out of a sitting position without pain since 2010. Rhus tox completely relieved his pain (Response: Oui!). As the students begin to see the remedies act, their understanding and confidence in homeopathy grows.

Port-au-Prince students in the tent camp clinic

Port-au-Prince students in the tent camp clinic

We encountered the usual challenges and curiosities one could anticipate in a project of this nature. Electricity, with its blessing of a large fan in a warm open room and the class focus point of a working projector, was available for about half of each day of class, which was held in a meeting house for OPL, a political organization with progressive goals to help the everyday person in Haiti. When our taxi ride was not available after class, we walked with HWB’s local coordination and student liaison, a woman named Paulette Kernizan, back to our lodgings at Wall International House, along traffic laden streets with dust and rubble, past women with large baskets of good balanced perfectly on their heads as they strolled gracefully.

Walking in Port-au-Prince

Walking in Port-au-Prince

Torrential rainfall came each night, thankfully cooling down the warm days, but also causing deep ruts and gouges in the streets making driving a challenge. The need to learn and understand the Hatian cultural milieu regarding everything from the way a client describes his or her symptoms, to the approaches most successful for arranging clinics and classes, to methods for engagement with the Haitian government offices such as the Ministry of Health, is a continual awareness. Those of us who come to serve with HWB are ambassadors for homeopathy and for the HWB organization itself, and care is taken to assure the interaction is positive.

At the end of this class session, we told the students that they were the mothers and fathers of homeopathy in Haiti. They have an incredibly powerful tool in their hands, and with care and study they can develop this in a way that can make a profound change in the health care available to the people across their country. After they develop their skills they will be the teachers for the next generation of homeopaths behind them. HWB is helping to toss a little pebble into a pond that can have many ripples in all directions supporting health. And tomorrow, Holly, Karen and all the students, along with PG, our translator, and Paulette, our liaison, will begin a few days of community clinic.