Sunday, September 13, 2009

Haiti Day Two

Kill the rooster.

The world starts coming to life as soon as the starts to get light. The rooster didn’t wait that long. He started around 3:30 am. He hasn’t stopped yet and it’s now 5:30. Several of us have given up on sleep although there is talk of a $250 bounty on that rooster’s head. We’re sitting on the porch listening. The rooster, the feral cats, sounds of breakfast cooking, horns honking, birds singing, and the baby chicks following their mama and chittering the whole time. We’ve spotted a baby gecko in the bathroom, and a decent sized rat wandering around the bases of the banana palms. The mosquitoes and gnats are biting and it’s already warm and humid. The sky is clear blue – it’s beautiful.

3:30 pm
We spent the morning at the Sisters of Charity clinic for sick and dying babies. Chaotic describes the scene well. There are four rooms full of beds – 25 in each room, each cradling a very sick little baby. Some are hooked up to IVs, some aren’t strong enough to sit up, some aren’t strong enough to cry. Many have visiting parents this morning, but several do not. They sit or lay alone in their cribs. As the mamans pass by, they might pat a back or tickle a chin. Sometimes they simply change a diaper and quickly move on to the next needy child. At 10:30 it is time for the parents to leave and there is great wailing and sobbing. It’s heart-breaking to watch and listen to. There are only so many hands and the hands are far outnumbered by the sick babies. There is a new doctor who will be at the clinic for the next several weeks. He openly admits he is overwhelmed. He has never seen some of the diseases he is seeing this morning and he doesn’t quite know how to react when he orders medications or treatments and the sisters inform him that it simply isn’t possible. This particular child is not sick enough, and the strongest medicines must be saved for those who are far sicker. The lucky children will eventually go home with their parents. The others will spend their last days on earth in this place. Holding a baby is a simple thing – holding a dying baby, not quite as simple.

After lunch we spend the remaining afternoon time with the kids at the house. Glen and Mary are making paper airplanes and teaching the kids how to make them fly. The kids are thrilled. It’s a simple game created out of spare paper that had been sitting around the home of one of the team members. They react to this game the way American kids might react to a new game for their Wi. There is a small group of kids most fascinated with the airplanes – Gemima, Nadege, Sheelove and Dadou. Dadou is 8 years old. To American eyes he could easily pass for half his age. As they play, Mary sings songs to them in Creole and Dadou begins to dance with her. That may not seem like a monumental thing; after all, it is something most of us have done with our kids or grandkids or nieces & nephews. But the dancing is special because a year ago Dadou could not walk, or even stand, upright. He scooted on his knees, reminiscent of a rather large frog. Yet today, Dadou danced. Our spirits dance with him.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Judy,

    I loved the Kill the Rooster opening. These entries are incredible. I want to adopt all the babies or maybe one. I love the spirit of your work.