DAY 3 Wednesday – I have started to write at the end of each day but I am having Internet problems, battery problems, and more importantly writer’s overload – the opposite of writer’s block. I have written pages and pages. There is SO much to say but no words to adequately describe what’s going on here. But I plan to push through with this one today and get it sent to Denny to post.
Wednesday is clinic day – we go down to the Haiti Home of Hope run by Bill and Jennifer. Denny and Mark have both posted about it — bottom line is, every week it rotates between a Feeding Clinic (where families receive rice, beans and high protein soy meal, and a Baby Clinic where families receive baby formula for babies without mothers. Grandmothers, Aunties and Grandfathers bring in a baby who has lost its mother – either to abandonment or death. The Feeding Clinic is funded for malnourished children. A mother and baby were turned down today because the baby was too healthy – she was given food today but told she couldn’t be enrolled in the program. The program is funded for specific needs. Another woman came in with a baby who turned out to be her niece – the mother had died last week, and so she could be enrolled in the Baby Program. Bill and Jennifer have done this for nine years and know how to triage…but it has to be so difficult to turn folks away. The clinic is marketed as food distribution, but medical needs are attended to – the food gets the families in. Families walk over 15 miles to get their food rations. A woman who had just arrived, placed the 15 lb bag of rations on her head and started back home.
After the clinic Esther and I were invited along for a home visit. It was a grass hut in the middle of a vast sugar cane field. Jennifer hadn’t seen the children for a while and wanted to check on them. The grass hut was 10 x 10 at the most – one room. A mother and father live there with their 9 children. Mother is blind. One of the young sisters, as a baby, was treated for glaucoma, so she can see today, but not her twin. Gloucoma needs to be treated within the first 5 weeks. Their brother, Cosmos, is blind. HE also had rickets and can’t walk. See the photo. He looks around a year old – 20 pounds at the most. Cosmos is 8 years old.
As we approached the hut, Cosmos was sitting in the dirt in front of the hut. His twin sisters each grabbed one of my fingers, didn’t say anything, just let me gently rub their hands while we watched Jennifer check over Cosmos. It is amazing to me how every child, at the clinic, at the orphanage, even at this thatched hut, offers no resistance to anything we want to do to them – wash their hair (another story), place them on the scale, check their teeth, braid their hair (although my attempts at braiding brought laughter). The children do not resist adults – or older children. They are compliant.
Back to Cosmos…watching him sit in the dirt…blind, malnourished, hot, thirsty, and utterly surrendered to these facts…calmly nodding as Jennifer questioned him….I realized these children don’t expect anything from life but what they have already experienced during their short lives. As I felt the girls hands in mine, and looked down at their filthy hair and rags for clothes…all I could do was rub their hands. It was only a tiny bit of affection, but it was human touch and they craved it.
Another sidenote: Jennifer said the fact that these parents didn’t just let their 3 blind children die, by not feeding them – that in itself is a remarkable thing – good sign.
As we were leaving the hut, an older brother tilted Cosmos’ chin up toward Jennifer and pointed—his lower jar was blistered and swollen. Jennifer examined his teeth which were infected. Cosmos had not exhibited any pain. Trying again to understand, I decided Cosmos has probably never been without pain. The poor little boy doesn’t know how it feels to be healthy, have a full belly, or to be pain-free.
Again, it comes down to…what good can we do? Any little bit that we can. Pastor Francois and Jennifer and Bill are touching lives, saving lives, through loving children. I don’t pretend to understand why these children have to suffer…but I do know we have a God who loves them and can use us in showing Cosmos, and Somala, Sainthos, and as many others as we can touch, His love.