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, 20 February 2011

I Wish That He Had Come Sooner

The little boy, sitting on the right is three years old. So is the little boy on the left.

Both of these children experienced neglect and deprivation. The little boy on the right arrived here at the age of 10 months. Physically, he is thriving. Developmentally, according to his teachers, he is doing very well. Yet chronic ear infections and severe allergies have left him hearing impaired and with kidney damage that is likely to be permanent.

Wadley, the spindly limbed, swollen-faced child on the left weighed less than 17 pounds when he arrived 3 weeks ago. He comes from a hard place. We suspect that he has not gained weight since his mother fell pregnant with his younger brother, 2 years ago. At that point, she would have stopped breast feeding Wadley. Clearly, she had nothing to give him in lieu of breast milk.

Wadley is extremely underweight. His growth is stunted and his hair is orange. He is weak. He is anaemic. His bones are soft from severe Vitamin D deficiency. His liver is damaged from years of malnutrition. His immune system is compromised from lack of protein, and, he has contracted an antibiotic resistant ear infection.

My heart ripples as I watch him shuffle across the nursery with a hunched back, and bowed legs. I hurt, every time I stick him with a needle; Wadley doesn't react. There is no sound from him. His nose wrinkles, slightly. Otherwise, his expression is unchanging. It is frightening to watch this lack of emotion. It is a sign of severe physical and emotional deprivation. Wadley has learned that all the crying in the world will not make a difference in his life.

Wadley's appetite is voracious. He cannot regulate his intake yet. He has to learn two things; what a full stomach feels like, and that there will be food at the next meal. He smiles, often. I am glad that he is happy here, with us. Yet I don't believe it is wrong to say, that I will be even gladder, when I see tears. Then, I will know that he is truly on the road to healing.
I wish that he had come sooner. I pray that he wont suffer permanent physical, emotional or cognitive affects from his malnutrition. Sadly, I believe that he will.

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