The cinder block house under construction, with its exposed girders, was too tempting a climbing challenge to pass by a 6 year old boy in search of adventure. Persistence paid off. His excited, “Gade Mwen!” (“Look at me”) tumbled out his mouth just as his waving arms upset his balance and he plunged down from his two story perch. The decisive snap of his left femur punctuated the thud of him hitting the ground. Had this scene taken place in the US, EMS would have arrived within minutes; the budding gymnast stabilized, taken to the hospital and within 24 hours the youngster would have been retelling, with great embellishments, his heroic adventure and showing off his external fixator.
Unfortunately this incident occurred on an impassable dirt road in the jungle covered hills of Haiti. Without skilled medical care and treatment facilities, this 6 year old boy would have most likely bled out at the scene or perhaps died later from system wide infection. While his American counterpart would endure the elbow jabs and rehashing of his childhood adventure at family gatherings for years to come, the Haitian boy’s life would have been cut short, simply because he was a typical boy.
Fortunately, the Haitian boy in this case lived outside Milot. Quick thinking neighbors, grabbed a shirt left drying on a rock, wrapped it tightly around the injured leg and placed the boy in a rickety wheel barrel, the only transportation available. A two mile bumpy trek down the mountain brought the young patient to Hôpital Sacré Coeur. The orthopedic surgeon on staff and his team stopped the bleeding, took the x-rays, cleaned the wound and performed the surgery needed to repair the leg. Weeks later when the bone had fully set and the fixator removed, rounds of physical therapy would ensure that at least this Haitian boy’s childhood would continue.
Children bump, skid, stumble and crash their way to adulthood and every parent logs a notable amount of time in the emergency room or doctor’s office while the latest misadventure gets patched up. Rarely does the bumbling of children turn unalterably tragic; except in Haiti. In a nation smothered in poverty, poorly nourished and malnourished children do not have the strong immune systems to speed on the healing process. A general lack of vaccinations such as tetanus turns every cut into a potential death blow. Sources of incapacitating infections lurk on every makeshift play area.
Haitian parents, like their American counterparts, want the best for their children. They work hard using what meager resources are available to them to give their children a better life than their own. Haitian parents long for a time when the bellies of their offspring always remain full, when primary and secondary school education becomes a normal occurrence instead of a luxury born of intense sacrifice; and when every child has a green light to chase her or his dream.
Parents’ dreams for their children start with a healthy child.
For over 26 years, Hôpital Sacré Coeur has placed the blessing, value and preciousness of Haitian children as a non-negotiable priority. Through regional preventive healthcare and vaccination programs, pre-natal care, skilled maternity, pediatrics and urgent care medical services, the goal of keeping children healthy permeates every hospital department.
As we enter the harvest season, gather our bounty, give thanks for our lives and our families, and prepare to celebrate the season of new births and beginnings; please include the dreams of Haitian parents in your offerings. Share your blessings and bounty with CRUDEM and support the children’s programs at Hôpital Sacré Coeur.
Your generous donations go a long way in ensuring that a Haitian child can experience the joys and delights of just being a kid.
It doesn’t get more meaningful and impactful than that. Seriously.