Sunday, December 09, 2007
All along both sides of this ravine in the lower part of Port Au Prince, people have built 'houses' for their families. Since it is the dry season, the water is very low. During torrential downpours the water gets much higher washing all the trash and garbage from the higher parts of Port Au Prince out to the ocean. The ravine is government property and the people building these houses and living in them are squatters. They have no money to buy property so have made their own little space along the ravine. Some of these houses are as small as 8' by 8'. Inside you may see a double mattress or some sleeping mats that will be sleeping space for the whole family. Others are larger with a few rooms. This view is the back of the houses. You can see some of them have windows. Between the houses there are narrow little passageways some as narrow as 18". Most have no doors, just a sheet or a curtain hung up for privacy. There is no electricity or running water. As you walk along the narrow ledge on the one side of the houses you pass women with five gallon pails of water balanced on their heads, the dripping water on their faces glistening in the sun as they take home the water for cooking, washing and laundry. For one mother expecting her ninth child, it must be a daunting task on a daily basis.
'Give us this day our daily bread.'
Some days, a small peice of bread is the only food many children in Haiti have to eat. This baby living in one of the ravine houses is a healthy looking child. There is a feeding program in this ravine that brings food to a number of very small children every day. This food is given directly to each individual child in or near their home. It is put in the child's cup or bowl and the child eats or drinks it then and there. You may wonder 'why do they not just give the parents the food to feed the children'?. Well, it may be hard to imagine but the parents just might sell the food or even eat it themselves! More about the feeding program later.
Sometimes babies are brought to missionaries when it is much too late. Fritznon was brought to Dorothy Pearce's 'Faith, Hope and Love Infant Rescue Centre" by Karen Bultje. He was two months old, weighed five pounds, half of which was fluid in his belly and a very enlarged kidney. He was so dehydrated that the wrinkled skin on his face made him look like a little old man. I put a nasal gastic tube into his stomach to feed him since he was too weak to suck. We brought him to the hospital for x-rays and an ultrasound. The doctor did not give him any hope. We took him to the lab to get some blood work done but his little body did not have much blood to give. Thetechnicians only got a few drops. The only thing to do was keep him comfortable. Fritznon died on Friday morning from harsh unforgiving Haiti into the arms of Jesus. His mother was with him at the time. Jesus said "Let the little children come to me, ......for of such is the kingdom of heaven".
This new healthy baby is just two weeks old. When we walked along the ravine houses, many mothers or grandmothers brought their children out to see the nurse. Nancy Brickell is a Registered Nurse who goes to the ravine every week to see sick children. This past Wednesday I went with her. Nancy is here until the adoption of her little girl is final. That may be a few weeks or a few months. We spent a few hours examining children, advising mothers what to do and giving out medication for fevers. All of these children are followed closely on a weekly basis to see if there is improvement. If not a visit to the doctor or hospital is recommended. Names, diagnosis, teaching and what medicines were given are all recorded in a book that is taken along on each clinic. For many of the children here there is hope, 'Hope for Haiti, .....one child at a time."