No one came to the PTA today. Currently, we have one mother on file for Wednesdays and she didn't show up. Guerleine and I sat alone under the mango tree :( I called the mother's phone a few times and it went straight to voice mail. In the meantime, I started my informal French lessons with Guerleine. She said she would teach me French and I told her I would teach her English. So, I pulled out my little notebook and started writing the alphabet to get started. We went over how to pronounce each letter and a small conversation.
Here's what I learned today:
a. Bon jour. Je suis Choumika
b. Bon jour. Je suis Guerleine.
a. Comment vas-tu?
b. Je vais bien. Et tois?
a. Moi aussi, je vais bien. Que fais-tu aujourd'huir?
b. Ce matin je travail a la PTA. Et tois?
a. Oh moi, je prend un petit cours de Francais ce matin. C'etait un plasir de te recontrer. Merci.
b. Moi aussi, a la prochaine.
(That was pretty cool!!)
We also went over pronouns and I kept going over the conversation to make sure I understood what I wrote. While I wrote down the words in French, I would ask her what they meant in Creole and then translate them into English for her. I love learning a new language. To work with 3 languages at once is incredible and it's amazing to have the ability to that. During my first couple of weeks in Haiti, I remember feeling surprised by my ability to speak Creole only because I speak English about 100% of the time back in the states (my mother speaks Creole to me and I respond in English). It's like Creole just remained in my head because of my mother, making me able to speak it fluently now. So, thanks mummy!
As I mentioned in a previous post, working at the PTA has been a great way to learn about Haiti; I talk a lot with Guerleine and learn many things about cultural beliefs from the mothers. In one situation, a mother would not give her child vaccinations because she thought crazy people would eat her child if she brought him outside of the house. At that point, Guerleine told the mother that she doesn't believe in voodoo. She said when her children are sick, she takes them to the hospital where they receive medication and get better. I am not here to tell these mothers right from wrong, but it's important for me to learn how these beliefs originated and the ways in which they unfold in their lives. Some mothers might not give their children Plumpy'nut because a voodoo doctor is prescribing a different method of treatment. Guerleine and I have to intervene quickly because these moms are putting their children's lives in danger. We can't reach many of the mothers in Leogane, but I am glad we can reach out to the mothers who attend the PTA.
I have also had the chance to conduct house visits - I really love and enjoy them. Earlier this week, Meti, Guerleine, Rachel and I went to visit the house of mothers who had stopped coming to the PTA for various reasons. We found out that some of the mothers didn't have any money for transport, didn't have the time, and others simply didn't care. Meti is very good at talking to the mothers and explaining why it is important for them to return. [I just completed my budget for the PTA and included money for transportation services. A mototaxo ride to a near by location for one person is about 25 gourdes - that's about 63 cents USD!!! I hope with this service, we can help out the mothers who can't make to the PTA because of financial issues.]
The house visits were a complete success; we got some of the mothers to return to the PTA and encouraged others to spread the word to other women who might need our services. I think it's better to talk to someone face to face than over the phone. We showed the women that we care about them and their children, and I think they appreciate what we do.
On Fridays, I review cases from the week with Guerleine and a doctor from Hopital St. Croix. We look for any warning signs and determine whether or not the children might need referrals.
I have gotten to know the mothers and children pretty well. So, I expect to see some familiar faces tomorrow. We get pretty good business on Thursdays =]