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.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

So Many Reasons to Be Grateful

We were visited by an ITN (British) film crew this morning. Since the night of the earthquake, I have spoken to several Journalists, from all over the United Kingdom. This has involved dozens of telephone conversations and e-mails. Anyone who knows me will understand that 'spotlights' are incredibly uncomfortable places for me.

During that first sleepless night, though, I spent a lot of time reflecting on whether or not I could actually cope with the responsibility and the exposure that would come from speaking to the media, especially at this stressful time. By the following morning, when I walked into Dixie's office at 6:30 am, I had concluded that Haiti was far away, remote and obscure to the British public. I felt that by telling my story, I might be able to make the disaster personal for them. I hoped this would encourage them to give. I hear that people back at home really are responding to the aid appeals and it is so encouraging to know that.

I remain nervous and anxious at each interview, and always pray for wisdom; that the right words would be on my lips at the right time. I felt especially uncomfortable to be face-to-face with my interviewer today; to be seen as well as heard for the first time. Thankfully, the team who came today were sensitive in their approach. Most of the journalists I have spoken to have been, and that makes my job easier.

GLA has a high profile in the US and European media at the moment. This has helped a great deal in terms of raising funds for our disaster relief appeal. It has also resulted in two missions, based in the Dominican Republic, bringing fuel and water at a time when we had enough supplies of each to last just two days.

Today was a wonderful day in terms of getting supplies through to the orphanage. Shortly before mid-day, we celebrated the arrival of a WATER TRUCK. Yes, thousands of gallons of life giving, thirst quenching, cleansing water made it to our gate and into our water tanks around mid-day. If we chose to, we could launder clothes and take showers as normal for a couple of days. I don't imagine we will; a gallon of diesel currently costs 12 USD in Port-au-Prince. It is possible that in the not too distant future, the water trucks will run out of fuel. Our water supply is far less critical today than it was yesterday, but who knows what the next few weeks will bring.
We were also visited by the Dutch consular general, who, with the assistance of the Dutch military, delivered a substantial amount of UHT milk, fruit juice, drinking water, nappies and rice. What a blessing!

This afternoon was marked by a rapid deterioration in the condition of one of our babies with gastroenteritis. After producing two large, watery stools, this young infant, became, pale, floppy and unresponsive, He was on an IV at the weekend but recovered to the point that the IV was removed. Today he relapsed. We started an antibiotic this morning but it did not kick in in time to prevent Baby W from becoming very ill and dangerously dehydrated.

At this point, GLA has no back-up from our Paediatrician, who hasn't been able to visit since the earthquake. We were very concerned about Baby W. It was very difficult to site an IV line - his veins were very fine due to the dehydration. Thankfully, we did manage to site a line, and, after a large bolus of IV fluids and a dose of a broad spectrum antibiotic, our little man quickly regained consciousness.

I have never been so grateful, so often or for so many things as I have this week. I was overwhelmedthis evening to hear that a Doctor and Nurse had travelled here with the Dutch navy. The Doctor reviewed Baby W and approved our treatment plan. He also saw some other sick children for us and gave us a small supply of drugs, including antibiotics that we are either very low on, or have ran out of.
I thanked the team several times for coming and for their wonderful donations. Baby W is a timely reminder of the fragile position of Haitian children in the aftermath of this disaster. How many will die for lack of food, water and basic medical supplies over the coming weeks and months? I suspect thousands of tiny lives will be lost this way.

GLA will impact this situation the only way we can; assisting one child at a time, and giving our full attention to the little ones who are directly in front of us. Four nurses arrived at GLA today on a flight that had been chartered by our US board. The flight also contained important medical supplies. With staff and supplies in place, we have the capacity to begin accepting sick and injured children for temporary care, as soon as our children who are currently in the process of being adopted can be evacuated out of Haiti. We expect that some of these children will leave GLA over the next 48 hours.


Marshmallow Circus said...

Praying for baby W, and that you continue to get supplies and water!

Cathy said...

Being a mom of such a fragile child makes this all too real. Not the lack of supplies but how quick their status changes. I am so grateful for the water, supplies and help you recieved and praying for it to last longer than expected. But I still can't but feel helpless her in the U.S. sitting with all the comfort and wanting to help if we could get the children here. If only temporarily til things are back in place there in Haiti. If you have an information on how or who to reach I could be here. Grateful that you are there with these children.

Jackie said...

Susan, Baby W is actually my son and I cannot thank you enough for all you are doing for him. May God bless you with wisdom, energy, strength, knowledge. We are so relieved to read your update. Thank you.

Lorna Reimche said...

Dearest Susan, God's angel helping the children, Dixie et al at the orphanage. Baby W is my grandson and I can barely wait to hold him and love him; I'm so thankful God allowed you to be there for this time and a special thanks to you for keeping our grandson alive. We are continuing to pray for all and truly pray the orphans already designated, will be able to be held by their parents very soon. May God grant you all continued favor; strength, patience, water, food and also sufficient help so you can all get some well-deserved rest. God bless you all richly. Lorna