Vasectomy Haiti: Two Goals For Mission Day Zero
August 9, 2015
We waited for about 45 minutes as our bags were taken off the plane. This was a small time operation, a few guys, lots of people screaming, and, seemingly, no one in charge. The airport in Cap Haitian can’t possibly get more than 3 flights a day…most likely only one. I soon remembered we were among the first to make our connector flight in Miami, which means our bags were the first to get on the plane…and consequently the last to exit.
To catch the mission at its start Haiti Vasectomy: No Reservations
After the vasectomy team had gathered our bags, we headed straight out the door of the baggage ‘room’. I say room because it really was a room and not a terminal.
Immediately across the street were a line of Haitian men standing like an army at attention. It was a well-ordered formation and the fact they were on the opposite side of the street and not bum rushing us was likely because of some preconditioned police training. I was impressed no one was trying to sell me anything.
Luckily our driver was waiting for us in a Toyota land cruiser..the cool kind you see people driving when they are on a safari. With the driver was Dr. Mesadieu, the local Haitian physician who would be joining us to perform vasectomy procedures, and Elisabeth Kaplan, our team nurse and patient facilitator.
Mission goal: Scout primary vasectomy site
After escaping the chaos of the Cap Haitian baggage terminal, we moved on to our next objective. The goals for the remainder of the day were to scout our first clinic location, secure a new air conditioner for the vasectomy procedure room, change money to conduct the remainder of the mission, and check into the Roi De Christophe hotel. It was around 4pm. Electricity is undependable in Haiti. There are no street lights and few homes have lights. When the sun goes down it gets dark in Haiti…real dark.
Most Americans do not know what real dark looks like.
We drove from the airport headed for Fort St. Michel Health Center, which would be our base of operation to perform vasectomies in Cap Haitien.
Our drive from the hospital was my first real introduction to Haiti. I saw a society in disarray compared to what I was accustomed to seeing in the United States.
People were everywhere; walking in all directions. About every third person was just sitting and staring off into the horizon. Trash was on the street, in the center of town, and on both the sides of river. The trash in the river was so thick you could walk on it; floating trash riverwalk. Plastic bottles and bags were everywhere. I felt as if I were traveling through the town dump rather than the center of the city where Haitian independence was born.
The two images that stand out the most to me was the prolific amount of garbage lying around and the large numbers of people just sitting and doing nothing.
Eventually I came to realize the garbage is just what you get when you go to a poor country with little infra-structure and the people are sitting outside because it’s so hot. There is no AC inside most structures. There may not be much to do without TV or internet other than sit outside and stare at the horizon.
Mission goal: Secure air-conditioning for vasectomy room
Upon arrival at Fort St. Michel Health Clinic, we scouted out the procedure area and spoke with the hospital administrator about plans for the remainder of the mission. The primary objective was to discuss the broken air conditioner in the procedure room. We were given advanced notice about this and the first goal was to get it working.
“It’s hard to perform vasectomies with sweat running down your back and through the crack of your butt… it is a little distracting.”
– Haiti Vasectomy: No Reservations
I am not trying to come across as a privileged American who needs his air conditioner to keep his fat butt happy…but it is oppressively hot and humid in Haiti. The heat is magnified when you are inside a structure with limited ventilation.
You would think the island would be bathed by the ‘cool soothing winds of the Carribean Sea’ but such is not the case in July. In fact there was almost no wind at all. Moreover any place that is someplace worth being in Haiti has a 12 foot protective wall around it, which is great for security but sucks for encouraging airflow. Add to this we would have five doctors, two nurses, and three patients all within a 10 foot by 10 foot room with a single door, a single window, and no cross ventilation and conditions can get oppressive.
Not to mention again, it’s hard to perform vasectomies with sweat running down your back and through the crack of your butt….it is a little distracting, but I eventually got good at it during this vasectomy mission.
AC or “No vasectomy for you!”
Dr. Suarez and Dr. Stein met with the hospital administrator and No-Scalpel Vasectomy International and offered to purchase a new replacement air conditioner for the hospital but it had to be installed within 24 hours or we would not be able to perform vasectomies at the hospital. The deal was made. The terms were clear. Money changed hands and no receipts were given.
In Haiti it pays to be as clear and precise as possible or the deal then becomes fuzzy and opens you up to being manipulated. The hospital was given money to purchase a new wall unit AC for the vasectomy procedure room where we would be working. We then left to exchange US dollars into Haitian Gourdes and this would prove to be a ‘unique’ experience.
Next article: Vasectomy Haiti: Changing Money and Learning Lessons
About the Author
Dr. Monteith provides vasectomy and vasectomy reversal to men in Raleigh, North Carolina. He describes his participation in a 2015 Haiti Vasectomy Mission sponsored by NSVI.
His first article in this vasectomy travel blog is
Vasectomy Haiti: No Reservations
Persons interested in supporting vasectomy in the developing world can do so through the NSVI website: No-Scalpel Vasectomy International, Inc