Thursday, January 09, 2014
Haiti day 5
23 kilometers and almost a 2 hour drive on roads that are not roads but want to be. Climbing up through the chain of mountains outside of Cap Haitian, we see a distant part of Haiti that is a speck on the side of an island that is far from the civilization on the east side called the Dominican Republic. The road twists and yields little in the way of comfort. We travel slowly if for only to prevent damage to our bodies and the van. We would be of no good to anyone otherwise.
We were supposed to see children from 3 projects. We arrived at the first and quickly realized that it was not to be. Children were brought from one project to us and we stayed here all day, a 15 minute break for lunch and a constant stream of children. 360 children. Some children with serious illness, acute and chronic. More children who were malnourished and many who were far from the norm. Tippy taps were built, first aid taught and supplies left behind and water filtration. The one we left last time we were here was still being used serving a project of over 500. We left another behind.
I saw him out of the corner of my eye. A tall, clearly elderly lady, unkept, frail and barley able to walk was with him. He came and sat in the chair in front of me waiting to be examined, a stoic face looking at me. A 3 year old, who acted like he was years ahead of his age. Stoicism does that. A few questions asked and I figured it out. His parents had abandoned him and his grandmother had taken him in. And so did One Child Matters. He is a sponsored, abandoned child, cared for by a frail and elderly woman who may not be here tomorrow. He is like many others we care for. I spent some time with him and treated his malnutrition and his chronic pneumonia. He never smiled. Not then. But when I took him in my lap, he cuddled close and showed a soft smile as he laid his head on my chest. Love for him, has been hard to come by it seems.
This has been Haiti. We have one more day of clinic and will see another few hundred children, putting in tippy taps, teaching first aid and dental hygiene and leaving first aid supples behind as well as water filtration.
The sun is setting as we sit on the bus that creeps along the road that is not a road and for a moment there is a pause in the conversation around all the experiences everyone is sharing from today. It as at that moment that it all came together for me. An abandoned 3 year old child is given a chance to be loved and cherished by those who embrace him in the OCM project. And with clean water to drink, a toothbrush, a bandaid for his cuts, a teacher who now knows how to treat a burn, a place to wash his hands and a medical program that came and set up a nutritional rescue program, preventative health exams and illness interventions left behind, this little 3 year old has a chance. Finally.
In all things give thanks,
Posted by David H. Beyda, M.D. at 7:29 PM