It has been a very busy couple of days, or couple of weeks if that’s how long its been! There’s been so much happening here at the Mission of Hope, and although the busy-ness can be tiring, there are moments and people in each day that make me smile and love life. I have so many stories to tell, but I have to pick just a couple, so here’s the one that has made me smile the most in the past couple of days. Its not really a happy story, but she makes me smile!
So, Friday started out as any other normal day in the clinic. We’ve been a little bummed with the lack of action lately (we’re not heartless, but sometimes a good trauma or emergency case keeps you on your toes is all!), and the clinic has slowed down a lot just recently with us returning to “pre-earthquake” functions, with fewer patients coming through to be seen and fewer orthopedic cases to be done. Anyway, basically it was a slow day, things were going smoothly, I was giving a nice little tour of the clinic to some North American peeps that came to check it out, and then it happened. It was about 10am and Dr. Cheryl asked me to go with one of the interpreters to the triage area to check up on a little girl that apparently didn’t have family with her. Hmm…that’s strange. When we finally got the story figured out, this little girl that we’re guessing is about 18 months old was brought in by a gentleman (maybe her dad, not too sure) and around 8am he asked a lady near him to watch the little girl while he went to the bathroom, then he never came back. So this little thing, sat on a wooden bench, all alone, just sitting there for about 2 hours before we found out. Can you imagine that? Just sitting there, waiting for someone familiar to come and find you, wondering where they went, starting to get hungry, starting to get tired…can barely hold yourself up. What the heck? I remember getting lost in an amusement park once and being completely freaked out! What was this little thing thinking that whole time?!?! I haven’t really thought through this whole thing before writing this…I’m just thinking now, how scary that would be. Wow.
So, me, never dealing with this before in my life, not having a clue what to do, what do I do? I asked a couple of people for advice (people I thought would have somewhat more of an idea of what to do than me), but I didn’t really like the responses I got…which included giving the baby to the lady who said that she would watch the kid when the dad went to the bathroom (she already had 6 kids of her own and the one she had with her in the clinic was pretty severely malnourished – how on earth would she look after another one?) , another suggestion, which apparently is the appropriate thing to do in Haiti, was give her to the mayor. What?!?! What the heck?!?! I just have to say, these were all suggestions by boys. Now, I know that not all boys would say these things, but are you serious? This is a baby…left by her parents, lost, alone scarred. Sure, I’ll give her to the mayor. That’s what I’ll do. Seriously?!?! Anyway, so me being new and semi-young (comparatively so) feel almost like I have to listen to what these guys are saying to me. And then Vanessa saved me…and the baby! Vanessa is the wife of the president/big man on campus here at the Mission of Hope, and she is fantastic! She took this little one and said – “no.” We didn’t know what we were going to do with her, but no, we’re not giving her to the mayor now, and no we’re not sending her home with a lady that already can’t take care of her own children! I was so thankful in that moment to see her.
So this little one, I think we’re calling her Angelie right now, but I’m not really sure. I just call her “cherie” – which is the Creole way to say something like “sweetie” or “honey.” I’m not much for using those words in English, but in Creole it just sounds so sweet…so I use it. Anyway, so currently this little one is staying in our hospital ward, and rightly so. We didn’t really notice these things at first, but over the last few days we’ve noticed how malnourished and under-developed she is. When I first saw her she was sitting up all by herself in this big blue dress, with these big chubby cheeks, and then these really big eyes looking up at me, and what I first noticed was that her right eye kind of wandered a bit. Now we’ve started to notice how skinny her neck is, how she can swing her legs up over her head (quite unnaturally!) and not bear any weight at all on her legs. We have no idea what her name is or her age, but from her teeth and the types of foods she is eating, I’m guessing maybe 14-18 mths. But all she can do is hold herself up when sitting. When lying on her back I have yet to see her roll over on her tummy, and when you hold her out in front of you, she just kind of crumples. She doesn’t stiffen up and kick her legs out like a normal baby would, she just has no strength for it.
Now I know this all sounds so sad so far, but I have smiled so much with her, and my heart is so happy just holding her. It takes a lot to get this one to smile, and giggling takes a lot of work! But I got them both out of her! It’s an odd situation too because I still feel so helpless. I mean if I were 35 yrs old or had been married for 5 yrs, I could do something, but alas, neither are true! As much as I would love to keep her, I just can’t do it, and the thought of sending her to any other place (because I’ve seen some of the other places here in Haiti) is just heartbreaking. But all I can really think to do is to love her now. I just want to show love to this little girl, to hold her, give her kisses, rock her to sleep, make her giggle, just somehow show her she is loved and not alone. I was remembering too, that little sentence in 1 Corinthians 13 – Love never fails. That’s it. Pretty simple. Love never fails. I don’t really have a big grandiose kind of plan to save her or anything, but I know this one little thing called love is big! Every heart needs it, everybody craves it, and God lavishes it on us. He loves her, and He holds her, and His heart bursts more for her than mine ever could. He’s just a big daddy that smiles at her, and I have to trust that His heart is good, and that He has good things prepared for her. And all I can do is lean on that and join Him in that and love this one while I’m in her life. Hopefully its for longer than a week, but God knows it all.