I so wish that I was a good enough writer to be able to convey "real Haiti" for you. I recently read that 26,000 children die every day from malnutrition and treatable diseases. We have had our share of these and other senseless deaths in Haiti this week.
I was called to the hospital during mass this morning to help with 2 people. One had experienced severe head and chest trauma 3 days earlier. His wife had not brought him to a hospital because she had no money. At first, she even refused the transport of his comatose body due the government hospital where at least x-rays could be taken. When assured that there would be no charge, and assistance provided with the hospital costs, you could literally see her relax with relief.
The other patient, a young woman in her late twenties, had died inexplicably earlier this morning. It was definitely one of those bizarre cases, where things just didn't feel right. The fact that no one was wailing really confused me along with the fact that even though I could find no pulse, or other sign of life, her body never grew cold as is normal. The arrival of a bokor in the room - voodoo doctor - further complicated the situation. Suspecting poisoning, I suggested that we go ahead and run a full code on her. The family refused any treatments. The absence of wailing was explained to me that it is used to send away the spirit. In this case, they needed the spirit to remain. The bokor's presence was to do other things to insure the spirit remained in the body. Apparently, with the family's consent, this was a case of zombification.
Driving back from the hospital after delivering the first patient, I was struck with a heartbreak that I haven't felt here in a while. In other words, I lost it for a little while. Picturing the wife of the victim sitting at home for almost 3 days, watching her comatose husband, praying he would at least utter a word. Then, out of utter desperation, bringing him to the hospital, knowing she didn't have the money to pay for his care. The look of sheer desperation on her face, later turned to one of relief and gratitude would touch the hardest of hearts.
Sure, you see things everyday here that would be seen as the worst of tragedies at home. I guess the culmination of it all really hit me again this morning. It helps me understand why God has me in Haiti. A country with over 9 million people without even a functioning CAT scan machine, oncology unit, on and on the list could go. Unfortunately, the most basic of medical care imaginable is beyond most of these 9 million people's reach.
I pray that somehow God will break all of our hearts, for people just like you and me, who have to exisit in these conditions.
Peace and grace,