Day 6 - 2/23/12 - From The Inside Out
Real and consistent change for Haiti is years if not decades away. When you drive through town and see the worn down buildings along with mountains of trash and devastating poverty it is hard to ever imagine that it ever will come. Then you get to meet Junette a young woman that has lived at Danita's orphanage since 2006. She is smart, well spoken (she speaks three languages) and at 15 has high goals for her future. When you ask her, what she wants to be she answers, "A Doctor". And when you hear her story, it all makes sense.
Junnette was actually born in the Dominican Republic. Seven years ago her mother, while dying from AIDS, came back to her home country of Haiti. She new that her time was short so she sought the help of Danita's Children to take custody of Junnette after her passing. Junnette cared for her mom until her very last days.
Today I had the chance to work with her and three young men through the schools work study program. We made a basic hand lotion, an ibuprofen pain cream and a suppository for a Cerebral Palsy patient that has been in severe pain for the past few years. The work study program is an amazing concept because it teaches these kids skills and most importantly a work ethic that will help them to move forward in life in a country that only seems to be moving backward. Programs like this are crucial because they provide the only means for Haiti to find its way back. Millions of dollars can come into to the country and thousands of visitors can come in for a short period of time, but as long as the local people remained untrained and and are deprived of the tools to get them out of the hole they are in, they will stay there. Danita's has made a strong effort to teach these kids that they are going to be the future doctors, teachers, pastors, etc . . . of the orphanage and of their community. Through this and other programs like it in the country the Haitians will be able to bring their country back, from the inside out.
My mom, dad and Erin also had a chance to participate in the weekly work-study program. My dad worked with the boys to help dig and pick the foundation for the new boys house that will be coming soon.
And my mom, introduced two young girls to her famous Black Beans and Rice and Fricasse de Pollo. Her girls really enjoyed it and the lunch they made was great.
After lunch we spent two hours at the clinic with the Baby Rescue Program that is run by Brittany Joe Hilker. It was a sad and eye opening experience. One of the cases that stood out the most was little Witson. He is suffering from Kwashiorkor Malnutrition, a condition where the body utilizes protein instead of fat when nutritional intake is not what it should be. These children usually show up with blonde hair, scaly skin on their back, extreme edema (water retention) and in severe cases, sores on their feet. It is a serious condition with a very high mortality (death) rate.
In this picture you can see how severe his water retention is. His upper arm has very little muscle and you can see the water build up increasing as you eyes move down to his hands, which look and feel like a glove filled with water. Look at the back of his hand and how it is rounded and the skin is tight. He looks like a baby, but he is really 4 years old.
His foot is also filled with fluid on the top and on the bottom, to the point where it is common to see ulceration of the skin. Brittany was worried that he would not even make it alive to clinic today. Unfortunately there is not any type of facility in the area that is set up to take care of a patient like Witson. The good news is that with FortyByForty.org donation that many of you provided we have arranged for an emergency 4 passenger plane ride to a specialized nutritional clinic in Port-Au-Prince. The cost of one of these flights is $500 and we are excited to provide it for Witson, but we know that other children will follow throughout the year. If you are interested in donating to this cause please donate through our website and specifiy Emergency Child Evacuation Services on your donation and I will make sure that it gets to the right person within the organization.
We did start Witson on a special compounded supplement called Glutathione, which has been shown to increase the risk of survival when used with Kwashiorkor patients. The compound was made into a transdermal gel and applied to his back. He mentioned that he loved when it was being applied.
Other children we saw included a 2 year old with Spina Bifida who has been improving after a major surgery that they performed on her not to long ago.
And lastly a 3 pound baby that was born 2 months premature. She was amazing to look at!
At the end of the day we gave all of the orphans an Ice cream party and they were extremely happy. Ice cream is a rare treat and we had no problems in getting them to finsih it all.
The funniest moment of the day was when one of the new little boys was denied seconds. When he found out that we would not give him anymore he decided to go and reach into one of the used Ice Cream tubs and scoop out whatever he could get with a makeshift spoon-hand. As he was getting his last bite, Bill grabbed his arm and asked him to stop. I have to admit, I knew what he was doing was wrong, but it just looked so right! Three weeks ago this boy and 12 others were living at an orphanage that was shut down, in a tent with no electricity, so I guess we can let him have a little more!