SUISUN CITY — Spending a week in a southern Haitian village seeing to the needs of the people there gave photographer and local Rotarian Jim Inks a good grasp of much help Haiti still needs from the outside world.
“I got a good appreciation about how much there still needs to be done,” Inks told fellow Fairfield-Suisun Rotary Club members Tuesday about the work Rotary members accomplished last month in the destitute country.
He also got an appreciation for the chaotic nature of Haitian traffic.
“You drive down the center of the road and use your horn,” Inks said of how Haitian buses navigate. “The person with the loudest horn has the right of way.”
This is the second year that local Rotarians have journeyed to the small village of St. Georges on the southern shore of Haiti.
St. George’s happened to be Solano Community College Superintendent-President Jowel Laguerre’s hometown, and it was his mother who donated the site for the clinic. Laguerre was also one of Rotarians on the trip.
Two local Rotarians made the trip last year. This year, a team of 21 Rotarians, which included members from the Fairfield-Suisun, Cordelia, Fairfield-Suisun Twilight and Dixon Sunrise clubs made the trip.
The main goal this time was to run the clinic that was set up last year, work on improving the clinic building, do some teaching in schools around the clinic and, “most importantly of all, build relationships with the people there,” said Rotarian Talyon Sortor, one of those who went.
“You all made something special happen,” Rotarian Suzanne Bragdon said of the participants who spent eight days, from March 22 to March 29, in the small village of about 5,000 people.
Bragdon was one of those who went, spending her time there admitting and filling out intake forms for several hundred Haitian patients who came to the clinic for treatment.
“We had women come to the clinic dressed in their Sunday best,” Bragdon said of the importance the Haitians put on being treated by the American doctors. “The people were wonderful and very friendly. They would wait hours without complaint.”
The clinic was near where the village children would come to get buckets of water to carry home. It was also where residents would go to take showers because there was no other infrastructure in the village.
Sortor’s work there included creating a gray-water disposal pit, working on the generator that powered the clinic and fixing up the water system.
“We spent a lot of time fixing a lot of little things,” Sortor said. “We also worked with the people, so that they could do things on their own.”
Finding one of the residents to work with was not a problem, “because whenever we did something, somebody always jumped in to help,” Sortor said.
Lawyer and Rotarian Kendall Hillman not only got an education on how to run the clinic’s pharmacy for four days, but said his work with the Haitians and the respect and appreciation they showed him deeply impressed him.
“Your life will be touched by all the people you interact with,” Hillman said.
Laguerre told the Rotarians that this was the first time that his home village saw so many people from overseas come to help them.
“They considered this a lifetime opportunity,” Laguerre said of the chance to interact with the Rotarians. “The young people will remember this for the rest of their lives.”
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.