This is a place where the unfathomable is often the everyday.
This morning, we woke to news that a five-day-old baby died in the pediatric ICU during the night. He was a tiny thing who was supposed to be one of the first surgical patients of the day. One of our docs put his head in his hands and cried in frustration after the discovery.
Later, a 10-year-old boy with an amputated leg arrived, brought by his adoptive mother. Through a translator, one of the surgeons asked the mother how her son lost his leg. She explained that the boy’s birth mother dumped the boy out a yard soon after he was born. Pigs gnawed much of the baby’s leg off before he was rescued by a woman who later adopted him.
Perhaps most telling, the translator passed on this information without reaction, like it’s a story he’s heard before.
Children are abandoned at this hospital every month. Abandoned or orphaned babies are easily to pick out in the row of cribs in the pediatric ICU. They’re covered in flies because they don’t have parents there to fan bugs away from their faces.
I don’t mean to give the impression that all the stories are sad here at Hospital Bernard Mevs. They’re not. Earlier this week, Team Broken Earth met a five-year-old girl who arrived dressed in a princess dress. She can’t attend school because of her clubfeet. She grinned proudly for docs as she demonstrated her “walk” – a system of shuffling along on her knees. An operation will give her the opportunity to walk for the first time in her life. With that, perhaps she has a chance for an education.
Today, I saw the country’s new air ambulance service, which is funded privately by a former helicopter pilot in Florida. An air ambulance is an unusual luxury for a country like Haiti where babies die from lack of basic nutrition. But the air ambulance service is creating the first comprehensive network of hospitals and medical services in the country. Unfathomable though it is, no such list existed before.
This afternoon, our Team Broken Earth crew delivered bags of donated goods to volunteers from a Haitian orphanage, Tytoo Gardens. We met the orphanage team last year after several of their kids came to Bernard Mevs for evaluation by Team Broken Earth. This year, we brought toys, clothes and soccer balls, along with necessities like medications, soaps and toothbrushes for the orphanage.
Tonight, at their seaside compound, I know 30 or so kids are experiencing a new kind of unfathomable. That makes this all worth it.