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, 15 March 2009

Dear Adoptive Families...

Sometimes I get e-mails and messages from parents who are in the process of adopting children from God's Littlest Angels.

If you are one of them, the reason I have not answered is that volunteers are not allowed to have contact with adoptive families until after the child has gone home with them.

Please know that I admire you very much. Because people like you have a heart for orphans, many Haitian children will be blessed with loving homes and forever families. I know that the adoption process is long and frustrating. Hopefully it helps to know that there are many foreign staff, volunteers and nannies at GLA who care for your child with great love. They all look forward to the day when you will come to take them home.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

More Precious than Gold

Most of the babies at GLA have been relinquished by their birth families, making the orphanage staff their sole care-givers. When one of our tiny charges becomes sick, they are allready more than patients to us.

Two weeks ago, I returned from Petion-ville, to find this little man so dehydrated that he had lapsed into unconsciousness.The baby had developed diarrhoea that morning, but he had been taking approapriate amounts of oral rehydration solution and he smiled and cooed at me from his crib.

Over the next few hours, the diarrhoea had become profuse and watery. Seeing the problem, the head nurse had tried to site an IV line to rehydrate him, but she couldn't find a vein.

Seeing him now, my heart rippled, but it could not show.

Respirations a little deep. Heart rate fast. Peripheries cold. Blood Pressure (mercifully) good. Core temperature normal. Baby unresponive. No hypoglycaemia....

Time was of the essence. I passed a naso-gastric feeding tube and began rehydrating the baby through it. I had heard that this was possible but I had never seen it done. We hoped that after he received some fluid, his veins would show up.

An hour later, the baby opened his eyes. A few hours on, he was looking much brighter.

And by the time the sunset faded, he was fully rehydrated and drinking a lactose free formula from his bottle.

I can't begin to describe the joy these bright eyes hold for me, or how I treasure his smile; more precious than gold.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Stupid Cupid: Part Two

During my last week in Haiti, the nannies raised the issue of infidelity again.

One lady reccounted her family's experience of infidelity over three generations. She told us about the Grandmother, who taught her unfaithful man a very tangible lesson. You want to stay with another woman, then go and eat at her table because you wont find anything at mine. When the man delivered a blow in response, the Grandmother's sons stepped in and dealt with their Father man-to-man.

Twenty years later, when the Grandmother's daughter was adandoned by her own philandering husband, the grandchildren acted swiftly. In a demonstration of solidarity with their Mother, they omited his name from their birth certificates and cut off all contact with their Father, for a time.

And the Grand-daughter, the woman standing in front of me; her boyfriend told her she was crazy not to take him back. She replied that she worked away from home, five days out of every seven to support their son. She let him know that if he wanted to see the boy, he was welcome to do so on any of one of her five work days. She added that if he wanted to contribute something to the boys upkeep, that was fine too. Apparently, the child's Father does just that.

I hesitate to say that these three ladies were privaledged to have the support of their families, because I doubt that the women consider themselves lucky. In different circumstances though, they may have lost their children to starvation or disease, surrendered them into slavery, or, in desperation, and bitterness, abandoned their babies at the gate of the infidel. Out of revenge, the man may, in turn, have relinquished the children into the care of an orphanage. In situations like these, Fathers say the Mother is dead. To them she is.

I am glad that that the women I heard about were able and willing to take a stand, and that their children were never caught in the middle of revenge and counter-attack. The Grand-daughter's children will eat, receive medical care, go to school. I told her that the women in her family had set an example. Perhaps it is too naively romantic to hope that the grand-daughter's influence will seep into the hearts of the babies in her care, and that they would be imbued with her courage. If they were, surely they would also absorb the indescribable sorrow and gall of a betrayed Mother and lover.