In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Life and Loss

A week ago, we heard about a baby girl, born two months prematurely in the north of Haiti. She had been taken to a local orphanage. There were no medical facilities for such tiny babies in the area, so the infant was airlifted to Port-au-Prince along with some of the orphanage staff. We don't know how that came to be, it is almost unheard of for an orphan to be airlifted. We do know that the baby was born in a region that was hit hard by the August-September hurricane season. Perhaps then, she was carried to the capital city by a returning relief flight.

The orphanage staff arrived at one of the hospitals in Port-au-Prince, where Doctors said that they would not admit the baby. They didn't think there was any point; they expected her to die. The orphanage staff hoped that GLA would take the infant.

We were in the middle of a chicken pox epidemic. Our Director was in the States, and there were so many unknowns. We didn't now if the baby would be coming as a medical admission or whether her parents had relinquished her into the care of staff at the orphanage in the North. We didn't know whether the baby's mother had traveled with her to Port-au-Prince, and we didn't know whether the baby was ill, or just premature.

Lori, who is a permanent staff member at GLA knew two things: 1) of course we would take the baby because 2) she would have a fighting chance here.

We got an incubator ready. The nannies were full of questions. We checked our oxygen, our suction and our monitors. We wondered how big the baby would be... if she would need an IV, or maybe just tube feeds? There was expectation in the air in the high care room.

The next morning, the incubator was still empty. 'Did you hear about the baby?' one of the office staff asked.
'What happened?'
'She died'.

I went upstairs, feeling deflated. I turned the incubator off. All the while, I was asking myself why I should be affected by the death of I baby I had never known. The eyes of the nannies were on me. 'The Little baby didn't come,' Jacqueline observed.
'No, the baby died.'
The words did not register. 'Why did the baby not come?'
'Because, Jacqueline, the baby died.'

There was a pause. and a look of surprise that quickly gave way to disappointment and sorrow. We were all feeling it. The lines in the old lady's face seemed to deepen.

There is something about a new baby.

A fresh untarnished life.




And it seemed so cruel, that a mission of mercy to save this precious new life should end there and then. And like that. Please pray for the orphanage staff who tried so desperately to save the life of this precious baby, and pray for her family. It is doubtful that this is the first child they have mourned.

I draw strength from knowing that the tiny baby who died on route to us is safe in our Father's arms, in a far better place. Still, it seems wrong that her life in this world was so short. It is wrong. Very wrong.

1 comment:

Tim Franklin said...

Susan, I agree with you that it is indeed wrong that this tiny one's live was so brief. Thank you for being there to do what you can to right that wrong for other children and to be our Father's skilled and gentle hands in the nursery at GLA.