Notes on the Ground in Haiti. Hope for Haiti’s Children.
Haiti Program Director, Debbie Vanderbeek, shares events of the day
I’m going to start at the (almost) end of the day from yesterday (Friday).
Try to imagine having just lived through a major earthquake and having everything you knew and owned destroyed before your very eyes in less than 35 seconds. Now you are living in the streets with 10’s of thousands of other people in the same situation as you, with no food, water, shelter, no relief in sight. You are also almost nine months pregnant and go into labor, in the street. Your mother died in the earthquake; you don’t know where your father is. All your family is gone. You are 17 years old. Can you even begin to imagine this scenario?? No one who has not lived it can get a grasp of this. But this is one of the last cases we dealt with yesterday afternoon.
Late in the day we found out about a refugee camp not too far from where we had been working all morning. Steve and Gusman had carried an injured woman back to where she was staying after she had hobbled in and been treated. They found this refugee camp with many, many injured people who either had not yet had treatment or had filthy days old dressings on unhealed wounds. They each picked someone up and brought these people for treatment.
One was a little girl about 8 years old (looked 5) whose little foot was split wide open and swollen several times its normal size. She was so brave. She sat and had that wound scrubbed out, had it bandaged and got a shot. She only winced – never cried out loud. She smiled when Debra gave her one of the pictures that the children from their church had colored to bring to give to children in Haiti affected by this disaster.
Another little girl had her entire forehead split open. She just kept screaming “Jesus, Jesus” or “Mama” over and over while they were cleaning and dressing her wounds. I was holding her while Debra and Chris worked with her. I just kept telling her to keep calling to Jesus, that He was there with her and would not leave her. That’s what I pray over and over as I see these people suffering such great pain and having no resources for comfort from this immense suffering – that they will really feel Jesus’ presence and really know that He is there and that He is their hope and that He will provide day by day, moment by moment.
Our team worked diligently yesterday to help many. There are bright spots in all this suffering. One cute little old lady came to the clinic. She did not appear to have any injuries and we were asking that only people with injuries ask to be seen. But these old folks so often have no one to really help them. She said she had asthma. Michael checked her and found she really was having difficulty getting enough air. He gave her a pump from the inhaler and her face just lit up and she kept thanking him over and over. He told her to take another hit and you could just see each time that she was getting air and the look on her face, the smile was worth everything. She was the most grateful person we have seen all week.
So then Gusman came and said that there was a girl in labor. I told him to bring her on in and we’d take a look. She was indeed in labor with contractions coming about every 5 minutes. Within just 15-20 minutes she was having contractions 2-3 minutes apart. I asked Jean Bap about a hospital – is there anything open?? He said they heard of one not far from the airport, but that if an American didn’t take her in they might not accept her. After much discussion and a couple of checks on Wisla, we decided to transport to the hospital. We arrived and it was closed down – chunks of wall missing in the structure. The security people there told us that there was a private hospital down the road. The Haitian nurse who had gone with us said they wouldn’t take her since it was a private hospital. I said, well, we’re going and we’ll see.
The folks there were great. I found the lady in charge, told her I had a 17 year old getting ready to have a baby in my truck and she said, “Bring her in, we’ll take care of her”. The Haitian nurse, Dr. Dave, Gina, Debra and I went in to help situate her. The man who had brought her to us, a friend, also went along. He said he could find a family member to come be with her. He found the mother of the father of the baby to come be with Wisla. After Debra started an IV on her and we spent about an hour or so making sure she’d hopefully get the attention needed, we left for home.
After dinner, Bobby from the Thomazo orphanage came saying that the baby we had helped the previous evening was running a 105 fever. Tim took Michael and Chris over to check. They gave more fever reducer and hydration. We’ll check in the morning on him.
Well, I have run out of time – to much to say and too little time.
God bless you all. Debbie