It seems as though everyday that I have been in Haiti is a mixture of hope and heartbreak. I see things that bring me to tears everyday and then I will witness the most amazing resiliency. Haiti is truly a complex place.
Today we visited the abandoned child ward in the General Hospital. The hospital has been around since the Civil War (US not Haiti) and doesn't seem to have had many improvements made to it. We walked through the different pediatric wards and saw many families and patients. They do not serve food at this hospital but everyday family members come with food for the patients, some staying all day long.
The saddest thing to witness was the abandoned child ward. It was filled with a mixture of newborns to around 13 year olds. Most of them had some sort of physical or mental disability and were left there by their parents. Gail said that there is an orphanage run by an ex-Playboy bunny from Colorado that is suppose to take the children but they often languish in the ward for over a year. Apparently the bunny is very good at fundraising, not so good at actually taking care of the children. I see an anonymous letter to her sometime in my future. If you could see the conditions of the ward (and photos do not do it justice) you would be mortified.
One little baby weighed maybe 3 pounds. He was the most malnourished and dehydrated little peanut of a baby. Honestly, he didn't even look like a baby at all. His skin hung off of him. We asked if he had a bottle and I was allowed to feed him, which he eagerly gulped down. It is a mystery to me why this child's condition reached this extreme when there were caregivers in the ward and other children who were getting IV fluids. If I could have brought him home with me without repercussions (like jail) I would have put him in my bag. Seriously, I did want to take that baby and run. It was horrifying.
Most of the other children were also malnourished, only 2 of them looked "healthy" and well fed, but were by no means being well cared for. I understand that this must be difficult work, but when we walked in everyone was sitting around listening to the radio (ironically enough it was playing Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"). There were no toys out for the babies and when asked the staff said they were being cleaned, there was also a cabinet full of clean clothes but the kids were in filthy ones. I know, I know...I shouldn't judge. But this baby...
Will haunt me forever.
This afternoon we went to St. Joseph's for their dance troupe. All of the kids in the home were taken from the streets and are now in school, they make art to sell, have an a capella group and have toured all over the world. They really are a shining example of what the human spirit is capable of no matter what the circumstances.
Their dancing tells many stories. One story is about a boy named Soni who has cerebral palsy. The director of St. Joseph's and some of the boys met Soni in an orphanage, basically confined to his bed. He came to St. Joseph's and not only walks but dances in the troupe, telling his tale. The boys also danced the story of Bookman, the first slave to sound the alarm (by blowing a conch shell as the story goes) for the slaves to begin their successful revolt.
Here are some photos of the boys in action: