you gotta be bad/ you gotta be bold/ you gotta be wiser
you gotta be hard/ you gotta be tough/ you gotta be stronger
you gotta be cool/ you gotta be calm/ you gotta stay together
all I know all I know is love will save the day
(lyrics from des'ree, you gotta be)
A few weeks ago, I had the great privilege to accompany a group of doctors and students on a trip to Haiti as the ranking Ob-Gyn to work in rural mobile clinics for a large organization called Project Medishare. Project Medishare is one of the main forces of healthcare for the central plateau region of Haiti and mobile clinics are a mainstay of how health care is provided to the people in this region. What is a mobile clinic?
Here's what our mobile clinics were like:
We wake up, eat a bit of breakfast, pile into large white SUVs where the air conditioning is cranked all the way up and we are squeezing at least one extra person in each row of seats because renting these cars is WAY too expensive for everyone to have their own. Plus, we still have more room than the tap-taps. We would then drive along a road for a little while, then abruptly turn off the road onto what initially would look more like a hiking trail than a road, but somehow the big white SUVs found a way to drive on it. Suddenly we would pull up to a church or a school or a group of houses where there would be 150-250 people waiting on benches for us to arrive. We'd get out, unload ourselves and our supplies from the SUVs, scout out a good spot for clinic and set up. As soon as we were ready, and often before, people would start coming to us with their pwoblems (not a joke, that's how you say problem in creole - best translation from english yet). And we'd listen, examine, and treat them the best we could, whether with reassurance, prescriptions for pills from our mobile pharmacy, advice, or just good wishes.
A few weeks ago, I attended the first program of a workshop designed to teach mom's of teenage girls about sex education, specifically contraception options and pregnancy prevention. Having just arrived back in the US from Haiti, I was stunned to learn that the rates of teenage pregnancy in areas of DC are similar to Haiti. The rates of HIV are higher in DC than in Haiti. The rates of other STIs as well. As part of this program, some of my co-residents and I were asked to participate in a private conversation with a group of teenage girls where they could ask us anything they wanted about sex. One girl, let's call her Lemon, talked about how she had stayed a virgin at age 17 and said, "I just tell them no. It's hard, it's really hard, but I just say no." After we had talked all about sex, eaten some pretty decent pizza, and planned the next session, I drove the 15 minutes home to my house, feeling like I had just traveled back from another country.