Saturday, October 25, 2008

October note

Quick note here:

First, there were several generous donors who contributed to the school bench project for the town of Toma Elli (click on the name to go to the site). We have raised the entire amount ($800)!!! This will be a huge gift for this town. We're truly thrilled. I'm not sure if all the benches will be constructed by my next trip, but I'll try to take some photos of the village on my next trip.

Second, we've raised a fair amount of money to start installing the plastic cistern system that I featured in an earlier blog. The system is being used farther up in the mountains by Dr. John Leininger, and he has offered to assist us in installing some of these units.
(view of the harbor in can see boats!)
Third, I was honored to give the "Keynote Address" today for Primary Care Day at Hershey. What a kicker. I obviously spoke about Haiti, and afterward two of the faculty from York Hospital (my former teachers!) came up and asked me some questions. One of the questions is whether I would be willing to take residents down with me. I don't need to tell you my response

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Haitian Migrant Workers

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I had the opportunity this weekend to visit 3 Haitian migrant worker camps in the Gettysburg/Chambersburg area. I was accompanied by Mary, a Nurse Practitioner who works with the many different migrant worker camps (most of the workers in this area are either Mexican or Puerto Rican), Dr. George Henning (a family medicine physician in my department at Hershey, and director of Agromedicine Dept), and Landy (one of my 1st year medical student advisees. Her parents are from Haiti and she speaks Creole).

There are about 20 guys at each of the three camps and the way it works is like this:
They live most of the year in Florida (around Orlando) where they work picking oranges, grapefruit during season. When those seasons end (or there is no more work) they come up to PA by van, usually in early July. They work here until late November usually, and then head back down to Florida. Some will find other work in Georgia, Maryland, etc. Some of the guys are new this year, but most that we met have been coming for some time. Many have been coming since the early 1980s.

I would hazard a guess that about 1/2 have their families in Florida and the other 1/2 have their families (i.e. wife, kids) in Haiti. They'll send money down to Haiti via Western Union.

I met one guy from Pestel (!) and apparently there are a couple of others as well. The workers are from all over the country of Haiti.

They are not complainers. That's a consistent feature of Haitians that I've come across. They want a better life for their family, like the guy we met who has 5 kids and a wife in Florida. This was his first trip up, even though he's been in the US legally for about 10 years. He had to come north because there wasn't any work in Florida.

The work is hard. They each pick about 150 bushels of apples a day, six days a week. One guy we saw had fallen out of a tree and broken some ribs. But he wasn't out of work for too long because, well, he doesn't earn money if he doesn't work...

I mentioned Dr. Henning. He is in the process of writing a grant for ongoing funding. He's writing me into the grant to help with education. !!! I told him my idea of taking med students down to the camps during the students' 1st and 2nd years of school, and then down to Haiti in their 4th year. He liked it. So we shall see.