The Situation in Haiti
PAGE FROM A HEALTH WORKERS JOURNAL IN THE HAITIAN CLINIC
There were three children admitted to the clinic today. Two of those have very severe cases of kwashiorkor. Looking at them I am just not sure that they will live. Their bodies are in such bad shape. But I have hope in God that they will make it. This mama above lives in a village that is about a 4 hour walk from here. That is 4 hours if “pye ou bon” (your feet are good) you’re normal and do not have to carry a child, or are sick yourself and cannot walk fast. The mama below had to start out yesterday morning to make it here last night before it got dark.
It took her most of the day to travel down the paths of the mountain trail. She carried her daughter down and also made the trip with her husband and another child. Her daughter, Ti fanm (little woman), is 1 year old and weighs 8 pounds. The mama herself is not well and very skinny. I started doing the intake information and asking questions about the child and history of the family. In the last 7 days she has had 1 plate of food for her and the baby. That plate of food was late yesterday when someone here in the village saw her and bought it for her and the baby.
The baby still tries to breastfeed so she leaves it on the breast most of the time. It sucks but often does not find any milk. She has to walk 3 hours to the nearest water source to get water for her family. She has lost 3 children and has 3 that are living. She has no bathroom and goes in the weeds. Her house is made out of clay and rocks there are 10 people living there. Her leg is injured and she cannot walk normally. I asked her when the last time she had meat, eggs or milk. The look in her eyes was something I will not forget soon. Those things meat, milk and eggs were items she would treasure and be so thankful to have. Her hungry belly must crave them. She must want them so badly for her children.
She must wonder why she is suffering so much. I admitted her daughter to the ICU this afternoon. I sent her home with money to eat and buy food. I thought about sending actual food with her, but then she would have had to carry the weight on her head up the mountain paths back home. I told her to return in 2 weeks. I wanted her to get her thing in order with the other children and make sure they are in a safe place with other family members that will care for them. I wanted her to be able to talk to her family and friends and let them know she would be gone for a while. I wanted her to feel good and happy about staying with us.
I wanted to have more room. I always need more room but never seem to have it. We are getting close to 90 in our care. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries, people tell me to set them; I want to have them, but . . . . well it is just not that easy when this mama and her baby are starving to death. Tonight as I sit her and cry I wish I would have kept her here... figured out something... moved people around, asked staff members to keep her for me.