In was a mammoth journey in every way: so many children, many of them dependant babies, one critically ill and one on a feeding tube, a further seven who had special needs or disabilities and one infant who needed to have an IV fluid bolus on the flight. Many were sick with fevers, diarrhoea and vomiting, The logistics of organising this evacuation were incredible. It took me over 5 hours to organise all of the medicines and medical supplies we would need for the trip and many of the staff did not sleep at all on the night before the evacuation.
Seven month old Rose-Laure was in a life-threatening condition the day that we evacuated the children from Haiti. She was showing signs of severe pain, and had a fever, rapid and laboured breathing and a fast heart-rate. She had been started on IV fluids, together with high-dose IV antibiotics the night before. Just over an hour before we were due to leave, Rose-Laure began vomiting blood and having seizures.
We were faced with the difficult decision of whether to take her, as planned, or leave her behind. Our Pediatrician advised that she was unlikely to survive if she remained in Haiti, since we probably would not be able to get her admitted to one of the few Port-au-Prince hospitals that are still standing. They are overwhelmed with earthquake victims, understaffed and running out of supplies. Yet we knew that there would be no medical back-up if Rose-Laure stopped breathing on the flight. In the end, we managed to stabilise our little girl and one of our foreign nurse-volunteers escorted her into the USA on the same chartered flight that the rest of our group travelled on.
Rose-Laure has since been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. She is currently in the PICU of a Miami Children's hospital, where her condition is serious but stable.
After being delayed for several hours at a military airfield adjoining Toussaint Louverture Airport, we boarded the airplane. We arrived in Miami after midnight and spent 8 hours in a brightly lit immigration hall, where our children's Humanitarian Visas were 'processed'. It was a long night. Thankfully, our US board members and the customs and border control staff ensured that we had clean bottles, nappies, snacks, drinks and blankets.
Shortly before 9am, we made it through customs, carrying our precious cargo: our babies. All were tired and dazed by the events of the previous 10 days and by the strange, new world they found themselves in. We were met by a barrage of press and media. Though exhausted and camera shy, I appreciated that the American public needed closure on this story. They have prayed for and rooted for these children for a week and a half. They have petitioned their senators and now, here we were, bearing these children over the threshold, into a new life, full of hope and possibility.
Yes, I was feeling hopeful. I cried for two nights solid before we left, grieving for my children, especially the special needs babies, who, I was told, would be become wards of the state of Florida Then, on Friday morning as I prepared to leave, I received wonderful news; in the past 48 hours, every single one of my special needs children had been matched with permanent adoptive families, and most of these families had been agency-approved to adopt internationally. Some had stepped up to the plate and said yes to my babies with barely a moments thought!
I carried Olantha, my 'Ti Fi', all the way from Haiti. In August, God delivered Olantha into my arms. Now, I have delivered her into the arms of another loving Mother. Though I struggle with feelings of grief and loss, I am in awe at the miracle; on the first of January, I posted my prayer for the new year on this blog.
'I will be praying, as I hope others will, that 2010 will be their year. The year that the families, who are being perfectly prepared for the task of raising our little ones and loving them, whatever may come to pass, will step up to the plate and say yes to these beautiful children of God.'
Now, before the first month of the year is out, all have been set in families. That is a great comfort to me. If the truth be told, I have doubted God's love, his mercy and his compassion several times since the earthquake hit. Now, I am secure in the knowledge that his will is to prosper us, and not to harm us. I have seen time and again that he answers prayer.