Today in the evening Fr. Scott was finally able to get a translator that could help me out on the ambulance runs. Again, language barriers have been one of the most difficult obstacles I’ve run into in Haiti, not only with the Haitian people, but also with the very healthcare professionals that I’ve been working with. Most of them have been from Italy.
A few days ago I was out on the ambulance with three other people: an Italian paramedic who only speaks Italian; a Haitian deacon who speaks Creole and a little Italian, and a Haitian driver who speaks Creole and a little bit of English. So, in order to communicate with Leo – my paramedic – I would speak English to the driver; the driver would speak Creole to the deacon; the deacon would speak what little Italian he could to the paramedic,
and vice-versa when Leo needed to speak with me. I’m pretty sure some of what we tried to say to each other got lost in the various translations. The whole situation reminded me of an I Love Lucy episode where Lucy gets arrested in a foreign country and has to speak through a series of four translators to plead her case to the chief of police.
I’ve been going out on the ambulance a lot lately, and fortunately we haven’t found too many more patients at home with untreated fractures. Most of the patients with fractures, at least those in the surrounding areas that I’ve been visiting, are either in the hospital or have already been treated and discharged. We are making progress! But there are still plenty of patients with open wounds that need cleaning and bandaging, and this has been my primary task as of late. One of the doctors here even taught me how to do stitches. So I’m looking forward to applying this newly acquired skill whenever I can. Stay tuned.