Things have finally settled down into a more normal schedule so I don’t feel like I have as many exciting stories to tell you this week. But the everyday stuff is just as important to the kids we are helping!
I wanted to cover an event in my last post but it was getting to long with everything I had to get you caught up on. So, a little late but still of interest I hope.
On January 12th 2010 at 4:53 pm an earthquake struck the greater Port-au-Prince area. Reports were that as many as 275,000 people were killed and another 325,000 were injured. It left over 1.5 million people homeless or displaced. On its anniversary, it’s effects 7 years later are almost no longer visible to the city. The effects in the hearts, minds, and bodies of the Haitian people that survived, still live on. Many people use that as a reference point for trouble or health problems in their lives. Some of the people that survived their injuries still bear the scares or missing limbs. I remember the emotions of the hours and days that followed trying to get information about people that I knew in Haiti and if they had survived. I also remember thinking that I had only returned from Haiti a couple weeks before the earthquake and that our guesthouse had pancaked in the earthquake. It could have happened while I was there. I returned to Haiti a few times shortly after the earthquake to help the people who were trying to put their lives back together.
Since moving to Haiti full time the foundation of that guest house stands only about 300 yards from where I now live. I walk past it many times a week and it’s a constant reminder of that time.
I found it very interesting that 7 years later, to the day, the UN showed up with excavators to remove the foundation. They were from Peru and none of us speak Spanish but we believe they are putting in some housing for personal. It has set as an empty lot since then so we will see what happens in the future.
I have been busy in the school clinic now that I am able to spend more time there. Octaline is doing well and I continue to be thankful that she has returned to good health! I get a lot of your everyday things at the school. Ear aches, sore throats, sinus infections, pink eye, scrapes and bruises from falling, infections from bug bites, headaches, urinary tract infections, coughs, stomach problems, ingrown toe nails, pneumonia, and colds and that’s just the last 3 days! There is a lot of education that goes along with treatment. Haitians don’t ever drink enough water, but they will tell you they do. “Clean” is also in the eye of the beholder, literally. If you can’t see it can’t be there. So, we talk about clean water, safe food, hand washing, and taking care of infections. Also proper ways to use medications. Sometimes I think they think I am just making stuff up because I don’t want to give them medication. They are under the impression that when you go to the doctor the more medications they give you the better that they were taken care of. But people will go to the doctor with high blood pressure and then bring me 5 prescriptions to fill for them. You look at the list and its Vitamin C, Iron, Tums, Ibuprofen, and an inhaler. So, they are often unhappy when they have a cold and you won’t load them up with antibiotics and pills, even when the prescriptions that doctors wright often have nothing to do with there illness.
Donald is the man from the clinic on Mondays that had his foot partially amputated that I told you about in the last post. We finally got him to a hospital that was willing to do surgery. We have reports that they only did a surgical debridement so we will see what it’s like when he gets home from the hospital. I hope that they removed all the infection and closed the skin. If not, we could spend the next year trying to get it to heal and prevent it from getting an infection that will kill him.
The student with the ingrown toenail didn’t want to me touch his toe. Even though it was infected and swollen and painful, he stated it would be fine. So, I showed him the last picture I took of Donald’s foot and told him this started as a toe injury that wasn’t taken care of and he would end up the same way. After almost passing out he agreed to treatment!
Clinic on Monday mornings up the road at Karen’s remains busy. It’s always a good place to find babies to snuggle.
On Tuesday, Meredith will be starting her Malnutrition program. I will be overseeing the medical side of it and the medication administration. There is a very strict protocol for caring for these severely malnourished children. You start by treating them for worms and Parasites so that they are getting all the nutrition and not any little stowaways. Then you make sure that there are no underlying medical issues that are causing them to not gain weight. Then based on their statistics like Height, weight, arm circumference, and if they have edema, you start them on the required amount of Medika Mumba. That is a Peanut Butter that is fortified with all kinds of vitamins, minerals, protein, and calories. You can not only live on just this and water but will gain weight! Depending on their needs, a 3-year-old could be placed on over 2,000 calories a day. They are not allowed to eat any food until there required amount for the day is gone. It is an expensive product but very effective. It is impossible to not gain weight if you follow the rules. It’s difficult to penalize the child, but under the protocols children who don’t gain weight without medical reasons are kicked out of the program. So, the parents must sign a contract that says they won’t share the Medika Mumba with other family members, sell it to the neighbors, or eat it themselves, because we will know and you will be expelled. We also educate them on clean water and good nutrition for when they graduate the program. I am excited to be a part of this program because it’s so important. Small children that are malnourished will have developmental delays and learning disabilities that will follow them the rest of their lives, making an already difficult life even harder.
Walking home from church this afternoon I was passing a little girl who was maybe 10 walking the other way. Just before she passed I noticed a spot on her chest, just above the collar of her dress, that appeared to be a tumor of some sort. I stopped her and pointed to it. Sometimes it’s hard not to let 26 years in medicine effect the way you think and act. She pulled the neck of her dress down a little more to reveal a very large scar. It caught me off guard and out of instinct I needed to evaluate the entire wound. She had a massive and distorted wound to her shoulder, chest, and abdomen. After a moment, I realized that I was alone and she was alone, she could not understand what I was saying, and even though she was a little kid, I was looking down her dress. I put my hand on her cheek and said God bless you sweetie. She smiled and we both kept walking. It was obviously an old wound so it’s not like she is bleeding or could have an infection or some other life threatening emergency but she has been weighing very heavy on my heart today. She has a massive amounts of thick scar tissue that is going to, if not already, cause her problems as she grows. It’s possible that this may be from the earthquake, when she was just little, but I don’t know. I believe that as she gets bigger she is going to have serious trouble from this. Scar tissue is very fibrous and does not stretch like other skin. When you have Keloid and Contracture scars they can do damage to underlying tissue and organs and can affect that way things grow. It’s possible that this will, if it’s not already, change the way her chest is shaped and ultimately affect her breathing. I have no idea where she lives but I feel like I really need to find her and evaluate her in the clinic. I am sure that she will need surgery to release these scars soon, and maybe again before she becomes an adult. I believe that God put her in my path (actually right in front of the old guest house) for a reason. Please pray that I will be able to find her and give her a hope for a better and longer life.
As always, thank-you for your support and partnership with Kelby’s Kids! If you are not currently supporting this ministry and want to be a part of changing kids’ lives, go to my support page - www.kelbyskids.org/support/
Until No Child Dies,