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.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

God's Special Children

These are busy days at GLA. In the past week and a half, we have admitted 6 children to the main house. All of them have special medical needs:

On Tuesday, we welcomed a malnourished, HIV positive baby. He came to us from another orphanage that did not have the medical expertise to provide appropriate care for him. This smiley little man is around 5 months old and he weighs 9lb 6oz. He had a high fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and thrush when he came to us. He didn't know how to suck from a bottle and his arms and legs were very stiff. We treated him with antibiotics and fed him by NG tube. Today, he is doing much better. His NG tube is out and he is learning to feed all by himself. He is receiving a special hypo-allergenic milk formula and gentle physiotherapy. It is such a blessing to see this baby recover and begin to thrive in the few short days he has been with us. We are so thankful that God directed him here.

Last Friday, we received a set of twin boys. We now have 4 sets of twins at the baby house. Our newest set are 12 months old and they came to us from Jeremy. They were fed mostly on watery maize meal porridge and are in the beginning stages of kwashiorkor: meaning that the lack of protein and nutrients in their diets has stunted their growth and caused their faces to swell with fluid. Both boys had fevers when they arrived. We started them on antibiotics, high calorie milk and fortified peanut butter. Their blood tests show that they are very anaemic. These little men are full of parasites, which, have been sucking life-giving nutrients from their tiny bodies. Less than a week after they were admitted, the boys are all ready gaining weight.

A few months ago, I shared with you that when twins are born, Haitian mother's often favour one twin over the other. Sometimes, this happens because the families are impoverished and just can't support two extra mouths to feed. Voodooists believe that the birth of twins heralds a curse on the family, that the dominant twin will take the life force from the weaker sibling and that with the eventual death of the weaker twin, the curse is broken. Here at GLA our nannies are excited by the arrival of twins, but they believe that the first born twin will always be stronger, healthier and more intelligent. I beg to differ. Both boys are gentle and sweet natured, but although Gwo Marasa (the big twin) is more advanced in his development, it is TI Marasa (the little twin) who protects and nurtures his brother. The boys spent two hours in NICU on their first day. While they were their, I assessed them and developed a treatment plan. Ti Marasa was very watchful. He stoked his big brother's head from time to time and gently shoved any other child who tried to touch him. It was too cute and (so I told the nannies) evidence that both boys have patrticular strengths.

Wednesday of this week brought 3 new arrivals from a rural area near the Dominican border. Two of the children are siblings; a 15 month old girl and a two year old boy. Both children are very malnourished and have problems with their eyes and their vision. We admitted them to our step-down nursery, where they are getting lots of love and encouragement from some very dedicated nannies. The little girl was reluctant to eat over the first few days. She has a cough, a fever and a nasty bacterial infection in her nappy area. Her brother is tiny, swollen with fluid and timid. His malnutrition has caused some dermatitis and he has a cough and diarrhoea. He is eating well and we hope that he will continue to recover. malnourished children are immuno-compromised and our goal is always to build them up as quickly as possible.

The same day, we admitted a 3 year old girl. She was abandoned by her mother as a baby and was living with her grand-father. She has severe burns on her stomach and her right leg. She tells us that she fell into the fire while she was helping her Grand-father with the cooking. A missionary family found her lying under a tree. She was so severely burned that the tendon on her leg was exposed. Her wounds were contaminated with dirt and faeces and infested with maggots. It is difficult to understand how a malnourished child survived with such severe thermal injuries in such unsanitary conditions. Local people begged the missionary family to take this child. If they hadn't she would certainly have died. She lived with them for a few weeks. They did a wonderful job cleaning and dressing the wound, which is almost healed, except for a 5cm by 1cm area on her leg.

We are cleaning and dressing this daily. Mme Bernard, who supervises the nursery staff insists on keeping this little lady in the Intensive Care area until he burn is completely healed. That way, we can minimise the risk of the wound getting infected. It is such a joy having A little girl with us; she is bright, beautiful and talks in complete sentences, in an adorable country-side accent. It is a novelty for us to have such an intenractive at this house and I am sure she will be a little bit spoiled, (and maybe a lot spoiled) here!

My newest baby came yesterday. He is 4lb 10oz, and slightly premature. He is beautiful and healthy and sucks good volumes of formula from a bottle every three hours. He is not showing any signs of infection. Oh that it would stay that way, that he would grow and get strong on loving care and good nutrition alone! Sweet and simple.


Henriët said...

Hello Susan,

Today I was tipped by 2 people that you are having a blog!
One of them is Betty (coming as a volunteer) and the other one is Janneke(on her way to Gla to pick up their sibling)
Good to read your story's, so we know where we can pray for!
Very ecxiting, because we are waiting for a proposal of a sibling. You are doing a great work! When I read your story's I can feel the love that you are having for those little ones! Thank you so much!

May God bless you and I really hope to meet you some day!
Bye bye

Poirier said...

Hello Susan! I have read this post many times and I read it again now with Ti and Gwo marasa home with us. I just had to comment on how what you have written about them here is still true today! Ti marasa loves to feed Gwo marasa and is always willing to share with him. Both boys are just too much fun! We are completely overjoyed and completely in love with these two. What a tremendous gift from God! We are so blessed!