eastern caribbean travel, human medicine, peace corps response

Beyond Impressive

I’m struggling to find my voice, the right voice in order to tell the story of St. Jude Hospital (SJH).  A voice that is honest yet sensitive.  It is a special story.  One that I couldn’t have imagined before arriving on island.  When I read the job description for SJH I knew it was the right fit.  I never even looked at another listing.  It was St. Jude or nothing.  The location was insignificant.  The pull was too strong.  Once I arrived, the CEO, Dr. Chierry Poyotte, told me he envisioned me coming to them.  Me.

map of caribbean

I’ll admit I originally thought my St. Jude was the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital based in the US.  It isn’t.

Rising from the Ashes is exactly what St. Jude Hospital was forced to do when its hospital, originally located in Augier, was destroyed by a raging fire on Sept 9, 2009.   A team of nearly 350 provide primary, specialty and emergency medical care to the southern region of the country which comprises roughly 68,0000 people.  To survive, to be displaced, to reorganize, and to make a stadium work as a hospital is beyond impressive.  There aren’t many organizations that can say they have endured and done what the St. Jude Hospital team has accomplished.

Vieux-Fort (VF) is the town and Augier is community within VF.

Vieux-Fort (VF) is the town and Augier is community within VF.

The stadium I speak of is George Odlum located in Vieux-Fort.  St. Jude literally took a sports stadium and turned it into a temporary hospital, albeit it’s been 6 yrs, so it could carry on with its mission.

This year, on the anniversary of the fire, the CEO, Public Relations, and I went around the hospital meeting with every department impromptu to thank them for their hard work through the years.  We acknowledged the “stadium fatigue” that is consuming them.  We encouraged them in this final push before we get to our new hospital…don’t give up…the light is at the end of the tunnel..  Even though we see the light, the feeling on the street is skepticism about the new hospital coming to fruition.  The people of St. Lucia are tired of hearing “next year.”  They don’t understand why it’s taking so long.

15 acre compound that houses the new St. Jude Hospital. This is the light at the end of the tunnel.

15 acre compound that houses the new St. Jude Hospital. This is the light at the end of the tunnel.

There are things that I’ve seen here that would never fly in a human or the best veterinary hospitals in the US.  The hard reality is the stadium is crumbling before our eyes.  In spite of this, the team pours their blood, sweat and tears into their work to be better every day.  It’s beyond tough to achieve best medical standards when there isn’t enough money to fix doors to a medical ward, replace flooring, provide certain tests, or to treat a certain illness.  Dirty electricity keeps us from putting in new equipment for fear it will be ruined outright.  The main focus though…is that the hospital strives to do right by it’s patients with what they have.  It is inspirational!

ER waiting area

ER waiting area

The generosity of companies and individuals who donate supplies, money and themselves is the human spirit at it’s finest. It is a long standing tradition and a foundation pillar of St. Jude.  During my 85 days thus far I have worked with volunteers comprised of doctors, nurses, educators, and a film maker, from the UK, Canada, and the US.  Also, during this time I have had the privilege of participating in small ways with Direct Relief and Americares through deciding what medications we need to how to logistically handle being the hub for distribution of supplies and medications to the 33 health clinics, two poly clinics, and Victoria Hospital which comprise the public medical system.  And this is simply the tip of the iceberg.

view of pharmacy from ER waiting area

view of pharmacy from ER waiting area

open air, rugged cafeteria area off the East Wing

open air, rugged cafeteria area off the East Wing

I’m honored and grateful to be here.  Those of you who have helped me and support me in my service to the Peace Corps and St. Jude Hospital are deeply appreciated.  By helping me, you are helping serve SJH and the United States.  The next time you go to the doctor, look around and be thankful for all which you have access.

Stay tuned…because I’m not sitting on the sidelines of life.

Other blogs you may be interested in:

-David: http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/

-Bash: http://www.bashhalow.blogspot.com/

-Kate: https://everywhereismydestination.wordpress.com/

-Chris: https://cannitopeacecorps.wordpress.com/

-Shelby: https://shelbyec.wordpress.com/

-Anna: https://hobbsseehobbsdo.wordpress.com/

-Mary: http://www.theknockabout.org/

-Alan: http://www.pcinec.net/

-Erin: http://pceasterncaribbean.blogspot.com/2015/07/

~Brie Messier, MBA

Note:  The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps 

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2016 presidential debate, american politics, Peace Corps, peace corps response

8 questions I’d ask a presidential candidate

My senior high school picture 1994

My senior high school picture 1994

Next to my year book photo you can find this future plan:  be the FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT.  At the time some laughed. Today, some are trying to collect on bets made (you know who you are).  Then there are still others who wonder if it’ll ever happen.  I had such conviction.  A few short years later I realized I could not be bought.  I could not be bribed.  And then there was this small matter of not playing politics well.  I’m not an ass kisser, period!  I stand up for the things I believe in and for others.  I say what needs to be said.  Although I have grown to be more graceful, tactful, and empathetic so my message is heard the first time…the substance is the same.  Truth.  Granted, it may be only my truth.

Generally, I suspect some politicians forget what they are elected to do and for whom they work. They work for me; a US Citizen, regardless of whether or not I voted.  I believe they lose sight of the significance and critical role they have in preserving our constitution.  At my swearing in ceremony for the Peace Corps, I was overcome by the enormity of what I was actually doing for America and this wonderful country of St. Lucia.  Listen closely to what is being asked of me and what I’m pledging to do; perhaps then you will understand my tears of joy.  In my humble opinion, this is what needs to be in every elected official.  Passion.  Service.  Humility.  Pride.  Love.  Hmmm…perhaps that will be my campaign slogan if I decide to run in the future?!

The most difficult part of presidential races is that no party fulfills my belief system.  No one candidate encompasses all that I wish for the country.  Do you ever find yourself in the same boat?  That is why when I’m asked am I Democrat or Republican I say “I vote for the best candidate no matter their party.”  Most often that means independent.  People who vote party over principle are part of the problem according to Eric Odom of www.libertynews.com and I agree.  At one point, I used to think not voting was the WORST thing someone could do in relation to politics and exercising a fundamental right that not everyone in the world gets.  I can appreciate better now why people abstain.  They can’t stomach what goes on.  The political arena is too complex.  The right things don’t get accomplished anyway.  The right to not vote is equally important.

If I were running a debate, here are at least eight questions I’d ask each candidate.  I’m fairly certain I’d run it like an interview:

  1. What are you going to do DIFFERENTLY to ensure you are living and executing what the American people want for their country?
  2. How will you prevent yourself from being “bought” by lobbyists, Super PACS, and other campaign contributors?
  3. What are the top three areas you want to focus your administration on if elected? Why?
  4. What are you not proud of in your career thus far?  Why?
  5. How do you plan to walk your talk and not fall into the trap of lip service to the American people?
  6. Why do you think there is such a disconnect, misalignment between what the people want and what actually happens by our elected officials?
  7. How do you propose we find balance between taking care of America and our foreign obligations so we can pull out of conflicts/wars?
  8. It saddens me to see the state of our race relations, in particular between the black and white communities; what do you suggest can be an actionable plan to continue working toward harmony?

Maybe my dream of being president isn’t dead.  I thought my window had passed for serving in the Peace Corps yet here I am; therefore, I will keep my heart and mind open in this realm, too.  I still have a steadfast belief that one person can make a difference.  I hope you will be one of them!  Check out http://www.isidewith.com to help you figure out which candidate fits you.

Stay tuned because….I’m not sitting on the sidelines of life.

Other blogs you may be interested in:

-David: http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/

-Bash: http://www.bashhalow.blogspot.com/

-Kate: https://everywhereismydestination.wordpress.com/

-Chris: https://cannitopeacecorps.wordpress.com/

-Shelby: https://shelbyec.wordpress.com/

-Anna: https://hobbsseehobbsdo.wordpress.com/

-Mary: http://www.theknockabout.org/

-Alan: http://www.pcinec.net/

-Erin: http://pceasterncaribbean.blogspot.com/

~Brie Messier, MBA

Note:  The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps 

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Dennery, eastern caribbean travel, Micoud, Mondele Lookout Point, Peace Corps, peace corps response, singles travel adventure

The Ordinary Day that Wasn’t…Pt 2

By 12:30p that same Saturday, I had connected with fellow PCV, Barbara T., in VF.  Initially, we were going to run an errand to the Peace Corps office in Castries but that changed.  We walked down Clark St. a little which is where the general street market is and she pointed out a few stores, like China Town, that everyone MUST know about.  I got to see a different bus area that serviced the North of the island which is exactly where we were headed.  Dennery (pronounced Den Ree) was our destination to have lunch at this place called Mondele Point.

In Dennery there is the beautiful spot called Mondele Lookout Point.  Awe inspiring views of the water and good food.

In Dennery there is the beautiful spot called Mondele Lookout Point. Awe inspiring views of the water and good food.

I’d passed this place several times already and it was calling my name.  Thankfully, Barbara had a good outlook because she said if they didn’t serve lunch we’d simply take another bus to another destination.  I couldn’t ask for more in a travel buddy!

As we were pressed in the bus like sardines, we chatted away about our experiences thus far.  She had just finished an amazing, yet draining, week of summer camp for 50 kids of various ages at her library in Micoud.  I expressed I wanted to see her village and where she worked if we could manage it.  20 minutes later we arrived; I was thrilled with my lunch destination!  Some places are hard to tell if they are open or not therefore I simply asked if they served food.  We had a lovely, inexpensive lunch under the shade of the pavilion overlooking the absolutely stunning scenery of Dennery.

View of Dennery village from Mondele Point

View of Dennery village from Mondele Point

All during lunch we exchanged ideas, ways to partner for a secondary project – how my hospital can reach out to the community through her library initiatives, and more.  It was about this time when we strolled the grounds and a couple tour buses arrived.  I said “Man, I’m glad I’m not a tourist!”  The last thing I wanted was to be shuffled around and rushed through the experience.  I felt particularly thankful at this time because we leisurely went through our lunch on our time table.  We could leave when we wanted.  A couple buses came and went yet we hadn’t moved from our lookout point.  Amusing really.

Me at Mondele Lookout Point

Me at Mondele Lookout Point

Alas our bellies were full, even topped off with Tamarind balls and Gooseberries for dessert.  Off to Micoud we go to see Barbara’s village first hand.  Back down the mountain we went.  The coolest part of that bus ride was I received a compliment that my Patois (also spelled Patwa) was very good!  I was able to exchange a couple sentences.  Yay!  Go Me 🙂  Patois is formally known as Kweyol or better known as Creole.  I have to tell you that I fell in love with Micoud (pronounced Me Coo).  Although I have heard people pronounce the D in Micoud.  I learned it is all about the confidence in which you speak.

Fellow Peace Corps Response Volunteer, Barbara, and I at Mondele Point in Dennery.

Fellow Peace Corps Response Volunteer, Barbara, and I at Mondele Point in Dennery.

Stay tuned for part 3…because I’m not sitting on the sidelines of life.

Other blogs you may want to check out are:

David at http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/

Bash at http://www.bashhalow.blogspot.com/

Kate at https://everywhereismydestination.wordpress.com/

~Brie Messier, MBA

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Peace Corps, peace corps response

The Ordinary Day that Wasn’t…Pt 1

I don’t want to be a tourist.  I never have.  When I go somewhere I want to immerse myself in the culture as best as possible with the amount of time I have.  Living in St. Lucia, affectionately called St. Lucy, is no different.  This weekend has been action packed and I was thrilled by everything I did, saw, smelled, heard, tasted, and touched.  I covered all five senses, correct?  Much of what I did can be considered normal, and some of you may be unimpressed, but for me it was anything but ordinary.

In Vieux-Fort (VF) I saw the fish market up close and personal.  I met “my guy,” Ace.  Yeah, I got a fish guy!  I learned a few things such as types of fish available, how the market works, that I can get 3-15 lbs, a good price is $7-$10 depending on type and if supply is higher than demand.  Good ole economics!  Fish eggs, better known as Caviar, is a pretty price all on it’s own.  My guy…he threw in the eggs at no extra charge.  I got to choose my Mahi Mahi, otherwise known as Dolphin here, that would yield 5lbs.  Now to someone who goes fishing and actually eats their catch or has lived near a place that has a fresh fish market this is a customary experience.  But for me not so much.  I’d never gone to the docks, picked my fish, watched it get cut into fillets then carry off my two bags of fish parts.

While downtown I got to experience a barbershop, a True Value hardware store that had a restaurant in it, and bought some pineapple from a vendor outside the super market.  A notable yet cool occurrence is that the shops are barely labeled.  I mean there is very little signage…at all.  You kind of wander around and poke your head in to see if it may have something you need.  Granted, I have people helping me learn the ropes but sometimes it’s like, “How did you know there was a barber inside that tiny, unmarked building?”  I returned home only long enough to put my groceries away then I hit the pavement to wait for a bus to go meet a friend for more exploration.

We drove around a couple streets in Vieux-Fort looking for this barber shop.  It's the little brown building with no signage.

We drove around a couple streets in Vieux-Fort looking for this barber shop. It’s the little brown building with no signage.

A typical view of city of Plateau.  Notice the far right building that is a bakery.  If you blink you'll miss it.  Small signage.

Another example of business signage; the building on the far right is a bakery. If you blink you’ll miss it.  Typical view of the village of Plateau.

Stay tuned for part 2…because I’m not sitting on the sidelines of life.

~Brie Messier, MBA

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