Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti - musings of a country in crisis

More musings about the day. We had a baby emergency that took us away from the emergency of the country. I wrote about it below. I've also interviewed other Haitians around here to better understand them and what is happening in the country in general (outside of the general emergency). It's more about the mission work than the country.

There is a woman here who is concerned about educating women in the town. There must be something better than chasing after a boyfriend and having babies. Many girls don't go past grade 6 because they have a kid and have to work. She wants them to have an opportunity. Something to do.

Her first priority is a library. For the school and for the community. A place for people to come and to learn. There isn't much opportunity to learn. The library would offer resources as well as classes, a place for people to gather and to learn. Give them something to do that is constructive.

This is the countryside. There isn't much to do. No mall, no cinema, no places to go and hang out. Not everyone likes to come to the country. Especially not the young people.

A baby came today. The clinic was closed, so they came to the school. The gardener got out a cot to put the baby on. 3 women came, all concerned about the baby. The American doctor (whose speciality is neonatology) unwraps the baby. It's a preemie. Was 1 month old. Dehydrated. Crying. So cute, but so tiny! The legs were like feathers. It weighed nothing.

We send the woman home to get formula. The baby is hungry! He must eat. He cries and cries. We try to placate him, but not much works. He cries and cries. They come with the formula. The doctor wants to talk about dosage. I want to grab the formula out of his hand, mix it in water and quick! feed it to the baby. He's crying and he's hungry! The women don't know exactly how to do it. They mix the formula well, no lumps as the power dissolves into the water. But they make the formula too thin. They want it to last a long time. So the baby eats, but stays hungry. They mix the formula, but don't feed him all of it. They start to put it away. We say no! get it back out! the baby must eat it all! then eat again in 2 hours. Eat every 2 hours, add more formula to the water. He must eat eat eat! We tell them how to do this. Exactly. The mother can't do this, she died in childbirth. So the aunts have taken over and try to save the baby. They feed him with a spoon. They do well. Don't waste a drop. Feed him with love and care.

The doctor says bring him back on Friday for a checkup. We will see if he looks better. After they leave, the doctor tells us he wonders if the baby will be alive on Friday. I can't conceive of anything different. He must live! He must. There are other things wrong with him. He is anemic. He is a preemie. He might have brain damage. But right now, we want him to live til Friday.

Berry says she sees this all the time. She wants to start a birthing and midwife center in the clinic. She can't do this til the basic clinic costs are taken care of. Paying the doctors their wages, as well as the rest of the staff. Paying for medicine, for the lab to be able to do its work. When that is taken care of, she can start training midwifes. They can show new mothers how to breast feed, what to look for, make sure their babies are gaining weight.

The thought of the crisis -- the earthquake -- the massive deaths, just melt into the background. I'm not concerned about that right now. It doesn't touch us. I just want the baby to live til Friday. That's the most important thing right now.


I spoke with an educator today. He loves education. It is the key to making his nation great. It was great once before. It was rich with resources, his people were free, the future was bright. But so much has happened. Now, the nation is poor. It must beg at the feet of other nations, feeding on scraps and beholden to the whims of its rescuer. The life here is hard. We are in the country. There is not much for young people to do. They get bored. They leave. The talent leaves the country. There are too many opportunities elsewhere, and there are none here. Why would someone want to stay when life here is hard? Not enough opportunity. Not enough to do.

I talked to someone who wanted to stay. To help his people. National pride. Heart for the poor.

The Sunday School teacher is remarkable. She loves to meet people. To work with them. Help them however she can. Her favorite thing is to work with the kids. To show them something in terms that they understand, watch when they get it, how it sticks with them, how they keep it as they move on.

For her, we each meet the people we meet, do the things we can do, try our best, move on to something greater. It's good. It's ok.

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