My husband has been marveling lately on all the unexpected, un-asked-for blessings that have been coming our way of late. When we moved here in 2001 there were no phones, not a level of electricity that could power fans and other moving, heat-producing equipment (we were relying primarily on solar electricity), and no internet within 2 hours drive. We didn’t have a DVD player or a digital camera. We had only two laptops, both more than three years old (and one had all the software in German!). We had a small copy machine but it didn’t work well on the electricity from the small generator we had. The nearest place to make copies was 30 minutes down the road (the ROUGH road).
Not that I am complaining. We got by just fine. When Felix made his first call to my parents before we got married, we went to the phone company here in Fond-des-Negres, gave them the phone number and the money and sat in chairs waiting for them to call out our name and tell us which booth to go to. The connection was bad and we had to talk loud but at least we knew very few people would know what we were saying, as we spoke in English (didn’t know much Creole then, either).
But now, just 5 years later, things are so different. We have three cell phone companies battling to claim service areas throughout Haiti. We have a phone right in our house! In Sept. ’04, we got an e-mail while on vacation saying that CDC was coming to install a satellite system with a computer here at the clinic. So now we have 24 hour access and just the other day they came back to install equipment giving wireless access to several areas of the clinic. We have been able to purchase several laptops so the staff can prepare the statistical and financial reports. We have been getting more sophisticated lab equipment that requires more electricity, so we were given the funds to purchase a large generator (40 kWh).
Also, the lab equipment as well as the medications that we are getting in for the AIDS Relief program need more moderate temperatures than we have here in Haiti. Upon the insistence of the funders, we have installed 7 air conditioners in critical areas (our house is NOT one of them ). It took Felix many late nights guiding the installation team but he had them up and running for our site visit July 13th by the US govt. official overseeing the grant.
Having AC is taking the staff some time to get used to. The only other place in FDN with AC is the little bank. We have to learn to keep doors closed, increase the wattage of the light bulbs since the metal window shutters have to stay closed and remember to turn them off before we leave work. Matthew has taken to getting his jacket out of the closet (can’t figure out how he reaches it) when he’s going to the pharmacy. He says it’s SO COLD! Silly boy!