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, 23 May 2010

Nèg Fè Lide'l Jan Bondye Ba'l Dwa

Man Makes Plans As God Allows

It was the first day that Melissa and I had been left to hold the fort at GLA. The rest of the foreign staff had left for Europe the day before. I had nursed a bad headache and had been struggling with waves of nausea for two days.

My humour was cynical at best. The night before, I had told Vivianne, a long term employee of GLA that I was sure I was feeling unwell because I was heart-sick. Melanie, my room-mate had left for good two weeks before. Dixie Bickel had left with her, and now Laurie was gone. The foreign staff would be out of the country for 3 weeks. To top in all off, Mme Bernard, the head Haitian nurse had chosen this week to take her leave. I was definitely feeling abandoned.

The Haitian staff know my humour well enough to understand that there was an element of truth in that. Vivianne, crooned that she and Magaly (the Haitian administrator) would never abandon me at a time like this. She went on to ask whether ice-cream might make me feel better? I felt myself brighten at the suggestion. Ice-cream. Yes, just the perfect treatment for a migraine. And anyway, I was going to have myself a drama-free month. Yes, Susan, great plans, I said, patting myself on the back. Lay back and relax and enjoy ice-cream. Great plans!

Well, as fate would have it, I was feeling too unwell for ice-cream that night. The next day, Wednesday, I made my way to the freezer in the Kitchen. It was just before 9pm, too late for ice-cream really, but it didn't matter. I had planned for ice-cream, and I was having it.

The ice-cream was too solid to scoop into a bowl. I let it thaw. I would not be put off. As I was spooning the vanilla iced treat, James came into the kitchen, cell-phone in hand, wearing a concerned expression. Melissa had called from the toddler house. One of the neighbourhood boys was there. He was badly hurt and he, James, was going to collect the boy and bring him here.

As he turned and walked out, I wondered what kind of badly hurt would be arriving....A car accident? A head injury? I sincerely hoped not. A broken bone? Heaven forbid it would be protruding through the skin, with the ends grating against one-another! Why did these things always happen when Dixie Bickel was out of the country? The last time she left, Vivianne and Dixie's son, Steve, collided with a sliding glass door and needed dozens of sutures. Would I be dealing with a laceration tonight?

I am not a trauma nurse and God's Littlest Angels is not set up to deal with casualties. Yet the fact is that we are sometimes the closest and only accessible source of medical care for our poorer neighbours. A mother flies into a rage, and brings a plate down hard on her 12-year- old's head. We will clean the stunned child up, remove the splinters, and suture the wound. An 18 year old is beaten by his uncle. We will patch him up. Dixie's son asks us to see his friend's two year old brother. The child is sick with gastroenteritis. We will assess the toddler, give Oral Rehydration solution slowly, and observe the little one for a few hours to make sure that he will keep it down.

Badly hurt arrives through the door. He is tall, thin, maybe 17 years old. He has a name - it is Ashley - and his eyes are glazed over with shock. When I ask where he is hurt, he turns around to reveal a blood soaked t-shirt. Lifting it up, he tells me in a very quiet voice that he and his friends were playing. It seems that a play fight turned nasty. Ashley has been slashed on his lower back with a broken bottle. The laceration is almost 10 centimetres long and over two centimetres wide. He needs a surgeon. Thankfully, there is a team of visiting surgeons at the Baptist Mission Hospital in Fermathe.

Clean the wound, put on a temporary dressing, give a tetanus shot (tetanus is endemic in Haiti and there is currently a vaccine shortage at many hospitals). Send Ashley to Fermathe, take care of the dressing changes afterwards, and pray for Ashley and his fractured relationship with the probably now ex-friend.

I was concerned that there would be repercussions. That Ashley's family would seriously harm the slasher, that they would insist that he be put in prison. Both of these boys are well-known to the staff at God's Littlest Angels and I really hoped that the flames of anger could be quenched that night.

I am glad to serve a good God, who hears my pleas, and honours them, orchestrating the details so carefully and competently. Up to this day, there have been no serious repercussions.

As for me, I am no longer praying against drama, because in asking for that, what I am really saying is don't send your worst cases here. Instead, I am requesting that God give me the wisdom and the grace to deal with any situations that might arise. God knows what is to come, and should a sick baby or an injured child be out there and in need of our care, we want to be the Lord's hands to them.

P.S I had my ice-cream that night!!!!

1 comment:

Kayla said...

Hi Susan,

I've been following your blog for some time now and love the little stories you tell of the staff and babies. I spent three months last summer volunteering in an orphanage in Cap-haitian and your stories take me back to that time. I loved Haiti and wish to return long term soon.

I recently graduated nursing school and am interested in volunteering in Haiti for a year or longer. Could you please email me? I would like to write to you more extensively about this.