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, 30 October 2011

Names, Faces, Stories

All of our children come with a story - a past, a history, life experiences that shape how how they think, feel and respond. We know and are aware of some elements of their personal histories. Other elements, we can only guess at or surmise. Sometimes, we are entirely in the dark.

Three children were admitted to the main house this week. The first to
arrive was Kimberlie. She is chubby, healthy baby girl. Although she weighs in at over 12 lb her mother insists that she is just 4 weeks old. We are not so sure. Kimberlie isn't holding her head up yet -babies usually do this at around 6 weeks of age - yet she moves her little arms and legs like a 3 month old. Maybe it was four weeks ago that the birth certificate was made? She is so big! We do sometimes see big babies - babies that are big not just by compared to their Haitian counterparts, but that are also big by North American Standards. Kimberlie is a very demanding infant. Haitians dote on chubby children, and we suspect that this one has been held a lot. She is perfectly happy when she is eating or sleeping. Otherwise, she wants to be held and entertained. Ssh! Don't wake her!

Our second admission, on Thursday, was 8 month old Emanuella. Her mother told us that Emanuella was a healthy baby. It was obvious looking at her, that this was not the case. Emmanuella has lots of loose skin folds, and seems to have lost some weight recently. She has a cough and an ear infection, swollen glands, a yeast infection in her mouth and fungal infections on her arms and legs. Her stomach is swollen and she has diarrhoea.

Emmanuella was clearly very attached to her Mother. She was the youngest child in a large family and she is grieving just now. As she adjusts to the losses and changes in her life, she needs a lot of attention from the nursery staff.

On Friday, a blessing returned to us. We first met Beni at the beginning of 2010, when he came to us for medical assistance. He was a tiny 5lb baby then, whose mother had died after a long and difficult labour. He didn't have a name, and so GLA supporters suggested names for this baby. Our director chose 'Beni' a name that in Haitian Kreyol means 'Blessing.'

Beni returned home to his father several months ago, strong, healthy and developing well. His Mothers sisters were anxious to care for him and we were confident that Beni would thrive well at home.

Sadly, Beni is back in our care, and this time, his father has relinquished his parental rights. Beni's family tried, they really did, but they are unable to nourish Beni. He is in the beginning stages of Kwashiorkor, with some mild swelling in his hands and feet. He is weak and pale and he has terrible diarrhoea, scarring from bacterial sores on his hands and feet and herpes in his mouth. He needs to heal, to regain his strength and to grow. The nursery staff were very pleased to see him. Beni smiled bashfully at all the ladies who came to welcome him back. Last night, I was told that he was beating the two year olds! I think he is going to do well here!

We pray that these three beautiful children will settle in their temporary home, that they will blossom at God's Littlest Angels, and that they will be matched with adoptive families very soon. There are parts of their histories that we will never know, but it is a privilege to enter into their life stories now.

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