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.

Monday, 26 July 2010

And Then There Were 35

In the last week, 2 children left our baby house. Miloudrine, who came to us at the end of February, weighing 17lb at 2 years of age was reunited with her family. She gained 9lb in the shorttime she was with us. Her Father is now in work and we hope that our shy little girl will continue to receive proper care at home, and that she will continue to grow and thrive, there, just as she did here.

The second child to leave was two year old Jerry. Jerry arrived at GLA shortly before Miloudrine did, after his orphanage was damaged by the earthquake that struck Haiti at the beginning of the year. Jerry showed obvious signs of trauma; he was very sad and withdrawn and would not eat. A few weeks of loving care, in a stable environment, in which all of his needs were met, were all that Jerry needed to feel safe and secure. We transitioned him to the toddler house over a two week period, and we enrolled him in the pre-school programme that runs there. Hopefully, Jerry is settling into his new routine. He is only a mile away, yet most of the main house staff will have no further contact with him.

Goodbyes are always bitter-sweet at God's Littlest Angels. They are harder than ever this year.

Miloudrine and Jerry's departures leave us with 35 children. I will introduce you to some of our newest arrivals over the next few days.........

Monday, 19 July 2010

Isn't He Wonderful!

Sometimes I stand beside his incubator and just watch him. He is beautiful, tiny, perfectly and intricately formed. I watch his chest rise and fall as he sleeps. He is 'my' miracle.

Woodson arrived at GLA, fighting for his life. He was our first CPAP patient. Now he weighs 5lb 5oz. He is breathing on his own, and although he is still in his incubator, he is only there because the basinets in the NICU are all taken. The incubator is turned off. Yes, perfectly formed, and mature enough to make it in this world without our help. Woodson will soon go home.

The last hurdle, is making sure that his Mother is producing enough milk, and that Woodson is feeding well enough at the breast to grow and gain weight. This last hurdle has been a challenge. Woodson's Mother believed that since her milk was drying up, she needed to stop nursing him. She believes that 'dry breasts' produce salty milk. She holds that belief because it is what the voodoo Doctors teach.

At our insistance, she has continued to nurse Woodson and no longer argues the point about the superior nutrition, and practicality of breast feeding. Woodson comes from a very poor family, who would never be able to afford infant formula. His only real chance of survival from this point onwards is his mother's milk.

We all hope that Woodson's Mum will take our teaching into her heart. It would be more than I could bear, to see a hard won life lost to the cruel world, its ignorance and superstition.

Monday, 12 July 2010

It's Great To Be Back

It really is great to be back in Haiti and at GLA after my two week holiday in Scotland. I returned last Monday, and was blessed several times over by warm welcomes from the staff and children at the main house. Upstairs, the nurses and nannies had exciting news to share: 'I' had four new babies, they declared! All of them are girls and all of them are less than six months of age.

First to arrive, they tell me, were a gorgeous set of twin girls. Wana and Raphaella are very alike, but not identical. To help me tell them apart, the nannies shared with me that Wana, the smaller twin, had a birth mark on her tummy. Magaly, our Haitian administrator reports that Wana had some health issues while she was at her previous orphanage: Malaria, she thinks, and pneumonia as well. Thankfully, both girls appear to be in good health now. They have bright eyes and strong lungs. As their nanny, Ginette puts it, 'When Raphealla cries, her sister is quiet and when when Wana cries, Raphaella is quiet'!

Next came Berline. This baby is a month old. You wouldn't know it, looking at her now, but Berline was suffering from a nasty skin infection when she arrived at GLA. Madame Bernard, who is in charge of the NICU says that the skin lesions covered the baby's entire body and that there was an unpleasant odour emanating from them. Mme Bernard mixed three medicated creams together and applied them to the affected areas three times a day. There is joy shining in Mme Bernard's eyes today as she looks over the baby's beautiful, clear, smooth skin. Bravo Mme Bernard! You made Belrline beautiful, just as God intended!

Then, a mere 30 minutes ahead of me, came Darline. She is 4.5 months old and weighs 8lb. Her face was puffy and her eyes were swollen from protein deficiency, which causes fluid to leak out of the capillaries and leak under the skin. We have started Darline on a infant formula that contains higher levels of protein, vitamins and minerals than the ones you can buy over the counter. These things are just what her body needs. Today, the swelling around Darline's eyes has disappeared. Darline might be little for her age, but developmentally, she is right on track, holding her head up, smiling, cooing, reaching for toys and grasping them in her hands. With her long, curled eyelashes, her round face, and her sunny personality, I am sure that Darline will become a favourite among the staff and the volunteers and God's Littlest Angles.