Thursday, April 19, 2007

Anpil Ti Fi Malad

We had a lot of visitors on Thursday. Many women came with their sick daughters. We helped in whatever small ways we could. It was especially hard seeing the twins and wondering if they will make it. Please keep each of them in your prayers.

This is Mayeta and her daughter Oldina. Oldina's father left Mayeta before she was born. She lives here in La Digue, has no other family, and no job. We started helping her a few weeks ago with vitamins, peanut butter, and some clothes. Oldina is too young to be in our feeding program normally, but has been coming to eat in the canteen. It was good to see her, she has been growing and improving. When they first came her hair was orange from malnutrition and she was very weak.

This mother's name is Natalie. Her daughter is Jesnerline. Jesnerline is a year old. She also has no father. She appears to be anemic, and has not been willing to eat for two weeks. We're hoping vitamins and some iron fortified cereal will help her get stronger and start eating again.

Magalie brought her daughter Lovedarline here today to see if we could help with a rash or something on her head. It appears to be a fungal infection similar to what Phoebe had. We were able to provide money and transportation to a clinic to get medicine. I'm praying it helps. Lovedarline is very sweet and smiled for her picture, which is rare, but otherwise seemed miserable.

These twins were born about twelve days ago. They were brought here by two of their aunts. Their mother was sick during the pregnancy and too weak to come down from their home in the mountains. Someone was supposed to bring her down on horseback today to find help and go to a medical clinic. According to the family, they don't think she will live. The twins are named Micailine and Micailda. They weigh a total of eight pounds twelve ounces - combined. I've never held such tiny babies. I was scared to break them when I layed them on the scale. We are providing formula for them to eat. I was relieved to hear that the family already brought them to the Zachary's clinic in Cazale - and they are apparently healthy so far even given their low birth-weight.

This last little girl is Judline with her mother Juditte. The mother is the older sister of baby Lovely - who Britt treated for jaundice and we have been providing formula for. Judline is very sick, has been suffering with fevers and diarreah for a week now. We're hoping to find a way to provide formula for her and get her medical help if she doesn't improve quickly.

All of these mothers have stopped breastfeeding, either because they got sick or their own malnutrition kept them from being able to provide milk. A common problem in Haiti - even among doctors and nurses - is the belief that if the mother is sick she should stop breastfeeding. We usually don't see the babies until the milk is all dried up and the child is starving. It is very sad. We've seen that one of the biggest needs in this area (and possibly all of Haiti) is to provide baby formula to help in these cases. The child mortality rates in this country are staggering, and I wonder how much of that could be overcome by education and the availability of affordable baby formula. Unfortunately, we don't currently have the means in this mission to meet that need. We do have some funds designated for this purpose, but it always runs short.

So that was my day up until noon. The rest of the day was kind of a blur. After seeing all of these sick children, it was hard to be patient with the Pastor's Committee I met with this afternoon - especially since they showed up an hour late for our meeting. It was easy, however, to explain why this mission can't fund all of their churches and schools and meet every need - I just told them that I saw a more pressing need in finding help for the children that are dying around us.