Sunday, February 28, 2010


This is baby Oleson.
He's four weeks old. My friend Sarah brought him to me after the Canadian military brought him to her. Oleson was brought by his grandma (pictured here).

Oleson's mother, a single mother, died shortly after his birth, orphaning him and three siblings. Grandma now has the task of raising these four children. She's also a single mom, but mostly of older kids, who (thankfully) can help with the raising of these newly orphaned children.

Joy in Hope has started a small scale formula/baby food program to help TRULY orphaned babies so that they can stay in their extended families. I feel like I have to emphasize "TRULY" orphaned babies because of the breastfeeding stigma/formula status issue here in Haiti (which I will delve into at a later time in another post-- quite interesting actually). Oleson is the 3rd baby we've started in the program... hoping to post more soon about the other two.

I gave Grandma two big tubs of formula as well as a couple of new dresses (thanks to the Utah team) for Oleson's sister, Krislove, age 8 (pictured here.)

As you can see, she's got spunk. She's cute and funny, which melts my heart, especially in spite of all her life has been in the past 2 months. They are due to return for more baby supplies on March 8... If they come back, I will let you know how they are doing.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Barton Brooks is my homeboy.

Hey, for those of you who don't know who Barton Brooks is, check out his site:

He's been on the ground with us in Jacmel since about a week after the quake. He's got a great organization, does great things, but is mostly just all around a great guy. I love him like a brother and will cry many, many tears when his time in Jacmel is up... Check out a video of what he's been up to. I got to help him with this team-- it was great fun and they were able to impact an entire community.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"Why aren't people moving back inside?"

We've had the opportunity to drive/walk MANY non-Haitian people through our city during the last 5 weeks. As we pass houses, many that look undamaged, you'll still see tents or makeshift shelters out in front of almost house. (My house included.) There will be random rows of tents in the city streets. On every street. And people ask this question over and over, "Why are people still sleeping outside?"

The short answer I usually give them is, "They are scared to go back inside." And to me that makes sense. To Nick that makes sense. He and I have moved back inside a few weeks ago. Hugues and our boys have moved back inside. But still our female staff and children remain outside in tents. Rains will come very strong some nights. Things will get wet inside the tents and they may venture into the house as far as the dining room (right inside the house), but they always congregate right next to the door and they always keep it open in case a quick escape is necessary. A few of them might even spend a night or two inside after that, kind of testing the waters. But inevitably there will then be an aftershock and (rains or not) they will again become firm in their resolve that they are never sleeping in the house again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat....

It's hard to explain this to someone who wasn't here for the quake. A lot of people come in and see houses that appear intact (or nearly intact) and cannot understand the fear. It just doesn't make sense to people and logically many feel the need to explain to me how if I could just convince Haitians that they would be safe inside, so many of their problems would be gone-- disease risk wouldn't be as high, blah, blah, blah...

My friend Sarah used a great analogy to explain it to some people the other day. She said it like this-- imagine there was a gang shooting on your street. For a long time, you'd probably not want to spend a whole lot of time outside of your house. After time, you'd eventually begin venturing out. But then what would happen if you saw a gang member with a gun walking down the street? You'd probably head back in. Even if he didn't shoot you or anyone else, you'd probably be pretty hesitant as long as you thought there might be danger of it happening again.

Kind of the same thing with the earthquakes. We keep having these aftershocks. We've heard that there is a new report out that claims that we're going to have some relatively large quakes/aftershocks within the next 3 weeks. This news is actually causing ME to feel nervous and consider moving outside again... just for a bit.

I guess I don't know what the point of this post is except to say that it seems like there are a lot of people coming in right now that don't really fully comprehend what it was like to be here on January 12th. They have a lot of "solutions" for problems that they don't fully understand. Yes, there are some open and shut things that can be solutions for open and shut problems. But the majority of the problems here (and let's be honest, we've JUST hit the tip of the iceberg) are not open and shut. They are not something we can throw some money and rice at and expect them to go away. We need people who are in this with us for the long haul and will strive to see things from the perspective of the people who need help.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Two Kingdoms: A bedtime story by Nick Mangine

Nick's bedtime story goes like this:

There were two kingdoms. One on the right, and one on the left. And there's a road that goes right in between the two kingdoms. And whenever anyone walks down that road, the people on the right all say, "Hey, come over to our kingdom and be with us."

And the people in the kingdom on the left all say, "No, come over to the kingdom on the left and be with us."

And so some people that walk down the road they look at the kingdom on the right and they say, "Oh, the kingdom on the right is better than the kingdom on the left." And so they join the kingdom on the right.

But other people walk down the kingdom on the left and they say, "Oh, the kingdom on the left is better than the kingdom on the right." And so they join the kingdom on the left.

But some people walk down the road between the two kingdoms. And they see good things in the kingdom on the right and they see good things in the kingdoms on the left and they say, "I don't understand why I have to pick one kingdom over another."

Object lesson he went on to explain: A lot of people might tell you that you have to choose one or the other. In fact, even I (your father) tell you all the time, "You can't ride two horses with one deye (butt)." But I think Jesus would tell you that you don't have to pick the kingdom on the right or the kingdom on the left. That there might be a third way to make things work. And maybe it's our job to find the third way.

That was the end of Nick's story. Which I think, in and of itself, is great. But then my favorite thing happened. Nia started thinking about it. And when Nia starts thinking about something, it's as if you can see the wheels in her brain turn and crank. And she said, "Here's one way you could choose. You could make a list of all the things that were good about the kingdom on the right. And you could make a list of all the things that were good about the kingdom on the left. And then you could look at the lists and see which has more good things. And then you could go there."

There was a pensive pause... then she slowly says "OR... you could go to the place that has less good things and try to make it better."

Another pensive pause... "That's probably what I would choose."


I love this kid. I love her heart. I love how her brain and heart work together.

(Stepping down off my proud mommy moment box now...)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The bedtime ritual, part 1

We have a pretty set bedtime ritual with our 3 Mangine kids at night. We start with bedtime prayers. They each say a prayer and then either me or Nick prays for them. Then we go over the "rules." There are three rules in the Mangine house-- things we want our kids to know that will never change. These things will be the same no matter what-- where we are, how we feel, people we are with... these three things never change.

Rule #1- God loves you
Rule #2- Mommy and Daddy love you
Rule #3- God's way is the best way, so we have to obey

Now, I know these TECHNICALLY aren't rules. But that's what the kids call them, so that's what we call them too. Another point to note about the rules, is that Nia has taken it upon herself to add a 4th Rule which is this-- "You'll always have the Holy Spirit." So now the kids usually include that "rule" too. While I do believe the content of her new rule is true, I don't usually include it with the rules because I don't think she really gets what the Holy Spirit is, (heck, I don't really understand the Holy Spirit and I am 32.) Plus, I am afraid of what happens if we start allowing children to add rules. So unless they can come up with another convincing rule that we cannot live without, it's sticking to our original three. (And I am going to include all participants of the Trinity in with rule #1.)

Finally, after the rules, each child gets ONE question or comment. This started because there were always a million last minute requests just before we left the room. Wanting drinks of water, wanting a song or a story, requests to be tucked in.... blah, blah, blah. THIS way, by offering the chance at a comment or question, they can each ask for or mention one thing and then it's over.

From the kids perspective the problem with this strategy is that there is always the chance when you ask a question that the answer will be no. For example, Nico might use his question or comment to ask, "Mom, can I have a drink of water." To which I would lovingly reply-- "Nope, Nia, do you have a question?"

Inevitably, almost every night one of the three children will use their question to ask, "Can you tell me a story?" It's the riskiest question of all because it's the easiest, quickest "no" from Nick or I so they usually spread around which kid actually asks it every night. Nick would claim that I am more likely to tell the kids a story than he is. On the surface, he might be right, I usually do tell a story. Nick, while less likely to agree to tell a story, is incredibly much MORE likely to tell a GOOD story. He comes up with insightful object lessons to pass along to his future generations... My stories all come with the goal of being over in less than 30 seconds and usually go something like this, "Once upon a time there were three kids that needed to go to sleep but they didn't want to unless their mom told them a story. So she did. And then they went to sleep. The end."

I tell you all of this to get to the point of my post-- Nick's "Two Kingdoms" story he told the other day. The only problem is that in explaining our bedtime ritual in such depth, I've run out of time to actually share the story. So I am going to have to leave this post as a cliff-hanger...

I know you're all on the edge of your seats waiting and this is probably causing more anxiety than back in the 80's when you had to wait to figure out who shot JR. That's my goal really, keep you coming back for more. :)

Seriously though, I will try to get to the story later.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two act drama.

The other day I finally brought my American kids (Nia, Nico, and Josiah) to the refugee camp with me. I wanted to introduce them to Babette (Patricia's mom) as I think she was starting to think I was lying about actually having kids.

Wow. Kind of a mistake.

Pre-earthquake there were very few white people in Jacmel-- maybe about a dozen and a half or so "regulars." There were even fewer white children. Prior to us moving here in fact, there was only ONE... Riann Pye. (Danny and Leann's daughter.) When we moved here and added two more white kids the number SKYROCKETED to 3. In a city of about 35,000, that's not a very high percentage. We try to take our kids out and about with us as often as is appropriate, so they were coming pretty well known in Jacmel, but that was pre-earthquake.

It never really crossed my mind the kind of swarm that would gather by bringing two (very) white children with us into Pinchinat (the camp.) It was actually pretty ridiculous. Well, very ridiculous. We were mobbed, mostly by kids who were trying to get a good look at, and/or touch the children in some way. (Their hair being the most attractive part to touch.) Josiah even got picked up by some random kid and was screaming... needless to say, wasn't the best thought-out plan I've ever concocted. Our trip was short-- we stopped in to see Patricia, but couldn't pass along the supplies I had for her because there was too much of a mob.

So we headed for the exit. By this time, Nick was carrying Josiah to prevent any further unwanted physical touch, and I had Nia and Nico holding my hands. We were almost out of the camp when people started to yell and make some noise. That kind of thing happens in Haiti so we just kept walking. But then it got louder and we realized we were somehow a piece of the drama. Long story short-- people thought we were kidnapping Nico. (For those new readers, Nico is Haitian-American. We adopted him (legally) about 2 and a half years ago.) Now, given the recent news of white people trafficking Haitian kids, I understand the concern. But that's not what was happening. But try explaining that to a group of semi-angry Haitian people who think that's what WAS happening. I tried to get Nico to speak English with me to "prove" he was actually American. Of course, his mouth was shut tighter than a clam and wasn't interested in saying anything except, "I am Haitian." (But at least he said it in English.)

Finally we just had to swat our way through to our car and load up and take off. By then some people were convinced we were legit. Others weren't, but I didn't have the time or effort to stick around (with my three attention-grabbing kids) to make sure everything left with the right idea.

Ahh... the joys of transracial adoption. For all my long-term readers, does it remind you of a certain situation a few years ago back in the Southpoint mall???

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jean Claude

Yesterday I was headed to team housing after picking up my truck. I was nearly there when my phone rang. It was Nick. He was calling from team housing. There was panic in his voice.

“Gwenn. Where are you? Get here right away. The house next to team housing is on fire.” There was then some commotion in the background and Nick said, “Oh my God, oh my God, Gwenn get here quick--- he’s burned. Oh, he’s bad... Oh my God, Gwenn, get here!”

My heart was racing and I remember swearing under my breath. Sarah was in the car with me and so was Nia. We turned the corner and saw a huge crowd of people gathered, black smoke billowing from the house, tons of people throwing buckets of water, and some people frantically working around a man on the ground. I handed Nia off to someone on Barton’s team so she wouldn’t see what was happening and then got help clearing the crowd so we could load this man into my truck.

About 4-5 people jumped on the truck from Barton’s team along with the injured person—including a nurse, a surgical tech and a physician’s assistant. I talked to a few people real quick to decide where to take him, and we all agreed that the hospital in Cay Jacmel (though about 20 minutes farther away) was a better option. So we sped down the road to Cay Jacmel, I leaned on my horn and flashed my headlights nearly the whole ride—my way to degaje a siren and emergency lights. (This isn’t the first time I’ve been an ambulance since the quake, so I have it down pretty well by now.) The team was in the back holding him and holding on and talking to him. When we arrived at the hospital, I hopped out of the truck and finally got a look at the patient… a middle-aged man—maybe mid 50’s. He was totally covered in filthy sheets and the smell was horrifying. It smelled like charred flesh, urine and feces. (I later learned that he had lost control of his bowels in the back of the truck on the way to the hospital.) I yelled that we needed a stretcher and quickly one was brought.

Upon entering at the door to the hospital, a woman at the door took one look at the patient and said, “You should really bring him to St. Michel. There’s nothing we can do with him here.” Having spent a decent amount of time at both the Cay Jacmel hospital and the St. Michel hospital, I knew she was wrong. I looked at the woman and looked at him and said, “No, there’s nothing they can do for him at St. Michel. We just came all the way from Jacmel. He will not live the 30 minutes it will take to drive there. We NEED him to be seen.” She reluctantly agreed to let us in, but we were basically on our own. There was one doctor there at the hospital who wasn’t currently in surgery and he was occupied with the dozens of other patients awaiting care. So Barton’s team stepped in and did what they needed to do. They raided the supply closet and got him started on IV’s (one in each arm), antibiotics and morphine. I kept my face close to him—I don’t know how he was still conscious, but he was and tried to keep him talking. I learned his name was Jean Claude. I prayed with him. I sang quietly to him. I asked him about his family and told him about mine. They unwrapped him from his cocoon of sheets to further asess things and I. WAS. HORRIFIED.

The doctors there estimated that his body was at least 60-70% covered in 2nd and 3rd degree burns. The images of what I saw in the next two hours are haunting me. I can’t make them leave my mind. Jean Claude’s flesh was melted off of his legs and his arms and his stomach, and his back and his butt. Basically just his hands and his head were the only places where he had larger chunks of skin that weren’t burned. Which was good because I kept one of his hands in mine nearly constantly. I whispered prayers to him and tried to keep eye contact.

There’s no burn center in Jacmel. Nor in Haiti as I am aware. The only thing to do was clean the wounds, spread burn cream and dress them. And, of course, treat the pain. Which was obviously excruciating. In order to clean him up, they had to splash bottles of peroxide and betadine all over him. We couldn’t find clean sheets and so we had to have him sitting in his feces for an hour or so. We found a pack of diapers that we were able to place under his head to use as a pillow. And I just kept sitting staring into his eyes and whispering, “Mwen pa komprann sa a, men m konnen Bondye fidel.” (I don’t understand this, but I know that God is faithful.)

Now, before I get any credit (or accusations) for what probably appeared as me trying to proselytize a most-likely dying man, know this—I was saying that for me, not for him. The 100% transparent truth is that I knew I needed to stay there next to him (as I was the only person there who spoke Kreyol and English—well, at least for the first hour or so), but I was absolutely, utterly, and totally horrified.

I stayed there beside him (as all the team members did) while huge chunks of melted skin were trimmed off of him. And again I found myself in a completely helpless position. Again I found myself in a place where I was wondering if an effort to try to preserve life was really the best thing. I have been there far too often lately. I was in this state where one second all I could think was, “God, please, please help him. I know this is hard, but you overcame death. You can heal him.” And the next minute I was praying, “God, take him away. Oh God, take him. Just take him. This is awful. Don’t make him bear this a minute longer…”

After about an hour and a half his wife arrived. She was remarkably calm. She took over holding his hand. I went out, sat down, drank some water and mustered all the strength I had not to puke. More time passed. I held his hand more and pored tiny sips of water into his mouth. Jean Claude finally got officially checked into a hospital bed. He was “handed over” to hospital staff and given a private nurse to keep watch on his fluids/pain level, etc. All we could do was hope she was attentive and truly advocated for him.

And then (about 3 hours after arriving) we left. We planned to return the next morning to check on him, bring clean sheets, etc. But those plans did not come to fruition because at about 10 PM last night Jean Claude died.

I am so not sure how to feel right now. I am really struggling with this— I know (without question,) his life was prolonged (at least a few hours) by the immediate medical attention he was able to receive. And he was able to receive immediate medical attention because there were doctors/medical supplies on hand because of the earthquake. That most likely wouldn’t have been the case on January 11th. But who cares? Was that REALLY the best thing? He had 2nd and 3rd degree burns covering 60+% of his body! I am not sure I would want my life prolonged if I was in that situation. No actually I am sure. I am sure that I would NOT want my life prolonged if I was in Jean Claude’s situation.

So I have lots of questions. Lots. And I have no answers. None. Not even one.

Sorry for the total downer post today. I am really not depressed. Just really reflective. Because I live in Haiti and run an orphanage I feel as if I have a pretty decent capacity for handeling traumatic and heart-wrenching situations. I’ve had a lot of OJT in this during the past 10 months of living here. But man, I feel so ill-equipped to process all the trauma and death I’ve seen lately. Feels like it’s time to get back to the stuff I did pre-quake. You know, the “easy stuff”—orphaned, abandoned, and enslaved children. Never thought I’d be thinking that would be the “easy stuff.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Alive but burning: (a repost)

This is a repost from Nick's blog.

A common Haitian Greeting: "Sa k pase?" – "What's happening?"

A common Haitian reply: "N ap boule." – It literally means "We're burning." It doesn't have a negative connotation necessarily. It's like saying "I'm just chillin'." But yesterday, it took on a whole new meaning for 12 people next door to our team housing.

Yesterday morning I was spending some time with a group that is staying at our team house. I noticed some smoke coming from the house next door, but didn't think twice. Smoke is pretty common in Haiti—they cook with charcoal, they burn their trash. But when the smoke turned black and started coming out of gaps in the roof, we all realized there was a problem.

First we cleared out team housing. The burning house was two feet away, and I didn't want anyone to get trapped on the top stories of our building. As I was clearing the house, a few people dove into the building next door looking for people. Fortunately/Unfortunately they found one—an older man named Jean Claude who had been sleeping on a bed in the house when it caught fire. They pulled him out of the house and those of us with medical training began to treat his wounds. I, lacking any medical training, did what I could. I called Gwenn—"Get here quickly with the truck. The house next door is on fire and we're going to have to transport people to the hospital."

The rest of that story belongs to Gwenn. I'm sure she will tell it better than I can. This man had burns over at least half his body—his back, his butt, his stomach, his legs and arms. The burns were severe. Gwenn and a few people from team housing saw him through the immediate crisis. The drove him to the hospital, fought to have him admitted, found supplies, gave him morphine, cleaned and bandaged his wounds. And most of that group walked away believing there was no hope for his life. Even with the best health care in the world, his chances of survival are slim. Part of me prays that he is still alive this morning. Part of me prays that he isn't—I can't imagine the pain he is enduring.

While all this was happening, those of us back at the house worked to contain the fire. Many people were filling buckets in our bathrooms and then passing them (in a literal bucket brigade) to people who were throwing water into the house. I ended up on the roof with one of our staff members, Madame Jean, throwing water on top of the burning home. I'm proud to say we didn't need to do this for long though. The fire department (yes, Jacmel has a fire department) showed up quickly. They had water in their truck and quickly had the fire out.

This is a family we have known for years. They've lived in this same house for as long as I have been involved in Haiti. In fact, one man who lives in the house, Evens, has been working for us as a security guard since the earthquake. He wasn't home at the time of the fire. I ran into him as he was walking up the road toward his home for the first time:

"Sa k pase," I asked.

"N ap boule."

We want to help this family. They have lost everything. We estimate that it will cost $3000 to replace their roof, clean and paint the walls, buy new furniture, new clothes, new dishes, food, and supplies to get them started again. Will you help us? Please give to Joy in Hope, marking your donation "Immediate Needs". With your help, I believe that we can have Evens, his two-year-old son Kevens, and the rest of this family back in their home, moving forward with their life by the end of next week.


I will eventually talk more about the story from my perspective, but I cannot right now. For lots of reasons.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Update on the babies…

Patricia- Doing very well. Hasn’t been vomitting or had diarrhea for almost a week now. Is very alert and looking healthy. I love her and (I hate to be prideful) but I think she’s starting to love me too. Today when someone else was holding her and I was talking, she kept turning her head towards me. Sure, I know that could mean ANYTHING, but I like to think it means she loves me. : ) Babette, her mother, is doing a good job of keeping her clean and claims to be nursing her more regularly, which would stand to reason as she’s looking bigger and more alert. Have I mentioned I love this baby?

Clara- Couldn’t find Clara today. I went to the hospital where she always is and neither she nor her mother were there. The people in the tent where she was said she, “went away.” Because she was still in an “incubator,” I am not sure where she would have gone. I am hoping that she was just well enough to leave. I will be checking in for while—just in case.

Luca—Awesome little, LITTLE baby girl. She’s 8 months old and was orphaned in the quake. Alive in the rubble for 3 days before she was found. Her aunt is taking great care of her and we are assisting her with formula, baby food and diapers so that she is able to keep the baby in the family. The aunt says Luca’s face reminds her of her sister- I love that. I am concerned about how tiny Luca is, but she seems healthy and very well cared for. I told her aunt to come back next week for more food. I think she will. That makes me happy.

Sorry there are no pictures. I am sending my camera back to the states next week in an effort to get it fixed after the “tumbling down the stairs debacle.” Next time I go “visiting” (see I told you I was a missionary), I will try to borrow a camera.

August 2006 - February 2010

Have a great story about this kid, Ricardo (and his grandma) from August 2006, the first time I went to Jacmel. (BTW- this hospital room is no longer there as of January 12.)

Saw them again on Sunday up in Basin Bleu--- can't wait to tell you more about their story someday soon...

(And yes, I was far younger and thinner then. I am aware of that. No need to point that out...)

Reunion- no captions necessary

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What it was like.

Just thought through some of this for an update to our financial supporters... here's what it was like during the quake.

The afternoon of the January 12 my whole family and all of our staff were at home. I had come home from working outside the home and was tired so I went upstairs to take a nap. While I was laying there, I heard a noise beginning that sounded like a big truck dumping a load of rocks. Loud noises around here are nothing new so I just disregarded it but then the whole house started shaking. And I jumped up and started running. And by shaking I mean rolling beneath my feet. Rolling such that I could barely walk because it was tossing me over. My first thought was not earthquake. My first thought was that our house was collapsing. That happens sometimes randomly in Haiti—these huge block buildings will collapse due to poor construction. I thought that’s what was happening. And the thought passed through my mind, “I am probably about to die.” I ran outside and down the stairs, trembling with fear. I grabbed my children to me and tried to make sure that we were all accounted for, still not sure what had happened.

It was Nick who first said, “Wow, we had an earthquake.” Up until then it didn’t register. And then when it did, my ears opened to the wails of those around me on the street. I vividly remember making a conscious choice to push the fear aside and clicking my head into go mode. And for the most part, that’s where we’ve lived since.

hope deferred

There’s this Proverb (13:12) in the Bible that starts like this—

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”

These past three days as I have waited and hoped and expected my children to come back into Haiti has made my heart sick. The decision we made to send them out to stay with their grandparents was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a mom. Especially because I didn’t know when they would return. I missed them like crazy every single day, but I could at least reason in my head that they were doing well and that we were able to accomplish a lot. Looking back, this was definitely the right choice for our family. But at the three week point, I started to crumble. The plan was already in place to get them back so I just held onto that. I still continued to miss them like crazy, but I had the hope that on a certain day, I’d see them and hold them on Monday.

And then Monday their domestic flight to Fort Lauderdale (where they’d hoped to hop a charter plane to Jacmel) got cancelled. They were rebooked for later in the day, but didn’t arrive in time and were told that the next day there would be a flight. Long story short—there wasn’t a flight the next day, Tuesday. Could be any number of reasons, but my money is on the fact that the Canadian Prime Minister came for a visit to Jacmel, and security was very, very tight. If I was in the Canadian military and in charge of the airport, well… I wouldn’t let planes come in either.

The next problem was that there wasn’t scheduled to be any charter from Fort Lauderdale to Jacmel the next day, Wednesday. So again the plan changed. They were told that if they could make it to Nassau, there would be several charters going from Nassau to Jacmel on Wednesday, and they could hop one. Here is where the details get fuzzy so I can’t verify that this part of the story is 100% accurate, but what I BELIEVE happened based on the little information I have is that they went to a hotel and were told they would be called when there was a plane that was going to be headed out. They were called, but from what I understand, they were called RIGHT when the plane was headed out, and by the time they arrived at the airport from the hotel, they had missed the plane. Well, actually, they had missed all three planes, as they were all headed out at the same time.

Since then the only contact we’ve had with them is that they were being put up at Habitat for the night so they didn’t have to spend another $400 on a hotel. We *BELIEVE* this is the same place the pilots are staying, but again, can’t verify that. We’re expecting them today? We really don’t know. We have no contact with them. Can’t reach them by phone. Can’t reach them by email. Yesterday I just collapsed in tears, took a half a Valium and slept all afternoon. (Unless you were here for the earthquake, sent your three kids out for over a month, and have had your hope for a reunion deferred three days in a row, please don’t judge…)

If you follow me on facebook, you’re probably a bit weary of me asking for prayers that I could get my kids back into my arms. In the scope of the big picture of what has happened in Haiti, it seems so selfish to be so consumed with this right now. There are so many people who are really suffering. Moms who have been seperated from their children because they are no longer living. By God’s grace, that’s not where I am walking right now and I realize my “problems” seem so insignificant compared to what many Haitian families are walking through. But it really is something very, very heavy on my heart. So if you can find it in you this morning, please, PLEASE pray for a reunion today.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

let it be me

I love the Indigo Girls. I love this song. I have decided it's my theme song for the earthquake and all the ensuing drama that is my life. I love that one person can make a difference.

let it be me

sticks and stones
battle zones
a single light bulb on a single thread for the black
sirens wail
history fails
rose-colored glass begins to age and crack
while the politicians shadowbox the power ring
in an endless split decision never solve anything
from a neighbor's distant land i heard the strain of the common man

let it be me
(this is not a fighting song)
let it be me (not a wrong for a wrong)
let it be me
if the world is night, shine my life like a light

well the world seems spent
and the president has no good idea
of who the masses are
well i'm one of them and i'm among friends
we're trying to see beyond
the fences in our own backyards
i've seen the kingdoms blow like ashes in the winds of change
but the power of truth is the fuel for the flame
so the darker the ages get there's a stronger beacon yet

let it be me
(this is not a fighting song)
let it be me (not a wrong for a wrong)
let it be me
if the world is night, shine my life like a light

in the kind word you speak
in the turn of the cheek
when your vision stays clear in the face of your fear
then you see turning out a light switch
is their only power
when we stand like spotlights in a mighty tower
all for one and one for all
then we sing the common call

let it be me
(this is not a fighting song)
let it be me (not a wrong for a wrong)
let it be me
if the world is night, shine my life like a light

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another one of those things that you can file under the category of, “This could only happen to Gwenn Mangine”

All my life to say that I am clumsy and accident prone is somewhat of an understatement. It was kind of a joke to everyone else around me. I would somehow always get injured in really peculiar ways from just doing regular, everyday activities. I could give you a dozen examples if I thought long and hard about it (and I am sure my mom could give you far more,) but without even thinking about it, two specific stories come immediately to mind.

· Example #1—The “Sports Injury”

When I was a junior in highschool I was stepping out of the tub one evening before bed and I slipped on the wet tile and cracked my knee. Hard. It hurt for a few days but it wasn’t too bad. Then one day, a few days later, it started to hurt a whole lot more and got extremely swollen. So, my mother took me over to Dr. Shwankler, our family doctor, and he took one look at it and shook his head and said this was something that would have to be referred to a specialist. (Side note: Turns out, in retrospect, Dr. Shwankler wasn’t actually a very good doctor, so most things WERE actually too complex for him to figure out or treat.) Now, slipping and falling getting out of the tub and injuring yourself doesn’t seem like much of strange or peculiar thing. Probably happens all the time. Heck, there’s an entire segment of lawyers who devote their entire career to people who slip and fall. The joke, in my case, was that I was referred to a doctor who specialized in sports medicine. Had I been involved in ANY sort of athletic activity (ever) in my life, this would not be so hilarious to those around me. But some of the same traits that make me clumsy and accident-prone, would also make me a terrible athlete. So there I was, all pudgy and non-athletic, hobbling into the sports medicine specialist. I sat in the waiting room with gymnasts and football players, weight-lifters and aerobics instructors until I was called. It was a pretty open and shut case of bursitis, and I had to wear this giant leg brace that immobilized my knee for about a month. And the whole time I was hobbling along and healing, my friends and family LOVED taking jabs at my expense about my “sports injury.”

· Example #2—“The Car Door Injury”

Those of you who are faithful, long-term readers of the ole’ blog probably remember I have discussed this one. In depth. (Or more accurately, I should PROBABLY say the one of you who is a faithful long-term reader of this blog—thanks Mom…) About 2 years ago while having my hands full of things such as a diaperbag, keys, a baby in a baby carrier, etc. etc. I was hastily trying to wrangle three kids into the car AND talk on my cell phone. (Now you might be wondering why I didn’t take multiple trips, but again, refer to the previous story—pudgy and non-athletic… that would have necessitated TWO trips to the car and really, my goal in life is to move as little as possible, so really, why take two trips when you can take one? But back to the story…) I opened the car door quickly, not really paying attention, and smashed it into my face which, in turn, broke a tooth. $4,000 out of pocket (we didn’t have dental insurance), nearly a year, and a couple of infections later, I was the proud owner of a dental implant. WHO DOES THIS? Me. That’s who.

So, with those stories in mind, you can imagine that my close family and friends (read: my mom) had some nervousness about me moving to a place like Haiti. Until last night, I had avoided most of my accident-prone tendencies and not had any really STUPID illnesses or injuries. Here’s the story about last night.

· “The Chemical Burn Injury”

Since moving to Haiti I have developed this persistant fungal infection called Tinea Versicolor on my face. I know, a fungal infection on your face is kind of a gross thing. But it wasn’t too bad. In fact, it was pretty unnoticable—just some small white (unpigmented) dots on my face. It was more noticable when I got tanner, because they would stay white, and the rest of my face would become browner. (Kind of like inverted freckles.) And so a few months ago when I first got it, it wasn’t too bad. But then I got more of them. And they started to fuse together into these larger patches the size of a quarter, or maybe even bigger in some places. I contacted a doctor friend I knew in the states and she sent me down some selsun blue and told me I needed to cover the white areas with that, let it dry, keep it on for about 30 minutes and then wash it off. The first time I had it, it went away pretty quickly and everything evened out again. However, since the quake, it’s come back again with a vengence. It’s way worse, and the fact that I have been spending a lot of time out in the sun makes it even more obvious. It’s to the point now where random Haitians I meet on the street ask each other (thinking I don’t understand them), “Wow, what happened to her face?” (Or actually, the more I think if it, they actually probably know I understand them and don’t care because, well, let’s just say it like it is--Haitians aren’t known for their tact.) But I digress…

So, there’s the background. Here’s the story. I am now very self-conscious about the way my face looks. I don’t like that I feel this way. I spent far too long in my life being self-conscious and have really made a concerted effort (especially since living here) to not really be self conscious about my appearance. Living here has made me realize there are SO many better things to spend your time doing. SO many. (Multiplied exponentially since January 12th.) But AGAIN, I digress…

While Nick is in the states (hopefully coming back today WITH MY KIDS I might add), he was able to acquire a prescription for this problem that over time should clear it up better. Until he arrives, I’ve been using the Selsun blue every night. Last night I was tired very early and so I did my nightly slathering ritual. (It’s now spread to my chest and even a bit on my shoulders.) So I had this blue past spread all over me. And I just had to wait 30 minutes until it dried before washing it off. The problem is that (as I mentioned) I was very tired. Very. Tired enough that I fell asleep waiting for it to dry. I did however, wake up about 5 hours later because my face (a little) and my neck (A LOT) were BURNING.

Yes folks. I gave myself a chemical burn with the Selsun Blue. This morning my tannish, blotchy white complexion also has another color in the mix—red. (And tinge of blue in some places because the Selsun Blue left a few stains on dry patches on my face.) I feel like I have a sunburn all over my neck. It’s red and blotchy, and extremely tender. In my head I am reasoning that some people pay LOTS of money for checmical peels. That’s probably what I accomplished. Just for a lot less money.

Normally I don’t wear makeup around here unless it’s Sunday or a date night. But until I can even out the speckly quad-color mess that was once my face, I am going to be a concealer and foundation kind of girl. Call me vain if you want. I’m good with that because for now, it’s totally true.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lazy days

I have had a couple of restful days.

Saturday after the team left, I read magazines and lounged around. I took my kids to the beach. Had Sarah and Barton over for dinner and talked late into the night.

Yesterday after church I hit Bassin Bleu with a few friends. Wish Nick was there, but all over a great Valentine's day.

Dropped my camera down the stairs. It's broken. Won't have photos for a while.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jemima and Ezaye

Last week I learned about this local orphanage that accepts the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick. Hearing that they might have a need for teams to come in, I went to visit with my friends Sarah, Barton, and Patrick.

It was so hard to be there.

There is a room full of cribs with about 40 or so babies inhabiting them—sometimes 2 or even 3 per crib. Most of the babies are sick. Most have scabies or fungal infections. Many are handicapped. A few of them are clearly dying. And they just hang out there. All day. All night. They hang out. They sit. The only physical touch they receive is when it’s time for “diaper” changes or bedding changes. I put diaper in quotes because they don’t use diapers, just rags about the size of a bandana. It’s not designed to keep them dry really, just more of a poop-catcher I guess.
We went there to hold babies. That’s it. Not to bring food, not to bring meds, not to feed or chage babies… they just need people to come in and hold the babies and give them some physical stimulation.

Heartbreaking didn’t even begin to describe it.

There were two little children who very much broke my heart—a (very) little girl named Jemima and a (very) little boy named Ezaye. Both were malnourished to the point where they looked like skeletons. There was no meat on them at all, their skin was saggy and baggy, their eyes sunken in, the hair they had (not much) was orange and brittle, their eyes half closed and unresponsive. Holding them was like holding a bag of bones. We’ve all seen pictures of starving children on TV. But this is the first time I actually saw, touched, and held a truly starving person. It wasn’t that great for me. Barton was the first to cry. Tears poured down his face in silence, dripping onto the blankets they were wrapped in to keep them warm. He whispered to Ezaye, “Go home. Just go home. You won’t feel pain any more if you just go home. It’s okay. God is waiting for you there.”

I bent down close to him and started singing quietly a popular children’s song in Haiti, “Eske ‘w vle ale, lakay papa mwen, lakay papa mwen, lakay papa mwen? Eske ‘w vle ale lakay papa mwen? Genyen jwa, jwa, jwa.” (Translation: Do you want to go to my Father’s house, to my Father’s house, to my Father’s house? Do you want to go, to my father’s house? It has joy, joy, joy.”) It was the same with Jemima. I sang it to her too. I touched her and prayed that God would find a way for there to be redemption in the situation. I even asked if we could foster them in our house—I knew it probably be of much use, but I would at least know that they would be held and fed every two hours around the clock. If it helped, great. If not, they could die in a home, in the arms of someone who cherished their sweet souls. But I wasn’t given permission. (That’s another story for another day.)

Yesterday I went back with our visiting group. Ezaye was still there. I sang to him again. I held him and prayed for him again.

Jemima was not there. I asked a nanny where she was, knowing already the answer.

“Jemima? Oh, li mouri.” (Jemima? Oh, she’s dead.”)

Here’s the funny thing. Though my heart initally sunk when I heard her words, I quickly saw the goodness of God, and I decided not to think of her as dead. Instead I am thinking of her as finally truly alive. No longer a skeleton, but the proud owner of a new body. Running and playing and laughing and hugging the neck of Jesus. I asked God for redemption in this situation. I can’t imagine a more full redemption than she was granted…

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My life

This picture was taken during the med clinic by freelance journalist Patrick Adams (and more importantly-- my new friend.)

I am in love with this picture. Not because I think it's particularly flattering, cause let's face it, it's not that flattering. I kind of look like I am barking orders (which I probably am) and it's not exactly a "slimming" picture (which, let's face it, as a woman is the first thing you check out about yourself in a picture...) But when I look at it, I see an accurate picture of what my life feels like post-quake. It's like I am always being pulled in twenty different directions and just doing what I can to keep all the balls spinning. To me, it just FEELS LIKE my life right now. There will be a special place in my home for this shot when all is said and done...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Med team + Patricia update + orphans

Having another extremely exhausted kind of week. Last night I went to bed before 7PM. I didn't mean to go to bed that early, it just happened. :) I was SUPPOSED to go on a date with my husband last night, but I was just too tired. (Sorry Nick.)

We've been busy for the past two days with a medical team from Crosspointe. They have been kickin' it down here. It's insanely cool. They are seeing about 300 patients each day in a field tent in the middle of a "tent city" (refugee camp) in Jacmel-- most of the medical needs are typical Haiti needs-- scabies, malnutrition, fungal infections, bacterial infections, worms, etc. etc. etc. But we've also seen other things that are earthquake related-- mostly follow-up wound care. And then there's also been several serious things we've had to transport to a local hospital-- a old woman in heart failure, a baby with a high fever and COMPLETELY covered in impetigo, a girl with a 104.5 fever that wouldn't come down with Tylonel, Motrin and cold packs all over her, a little girl with a SERIOUS huge abscess that has disfigured her face... we're hoping for good outcomes. We're also working with a local midwife to do prenatals on all the pregnant ladies. I personally love this aspect because it means that local women will be able to receive the followup care that they really need--especially at a time like this.

In the midst of this, we've all had our hearts torn from us time and time again, and yet we've still seen hope. I love Haitians. (Have I ever mentioned that?) I LOVE THIS PLACE I GET TO LIVE! Love it.

Patricia update...
I didn't go see Patricia yesterday. Half of the reason is that I was really busy, the other half of the reason is because I was sort of sensing that Babette (Patricia's mom) was sort of getting tired of me coming over all the time. And I also wanted to give her time to bring Patricia to the clinic herself. (Which she hasn't.)

BUT, yesterday Babette came over to see me at the tent. Just to say hello and to wonder why I hadn't been to visit Patricia. That made my heart smile. I told her I would come and see her today.


Have met a few babies and children who've been orphaned by this tragedy. So far they are for the most part doing well. We're sharing contact information with the caregivers (mostly extended family) to see how we can support them on a longer-term basis so they can be better resourced to keep these children in their families if at all possible. One specific story is of a little baby girl (8 months old) name Luca (pronounced Leeka). She was in a home in Port au Prince with her whole family when it collapsed. Luca's aunt was devastated when her sister's family was just wiped out. And she was there as they were digging through the rubble to find their bodies. On day three they found Luca--unharmed--under the house. They came to Jacmel to live since it wasn't hit as hard and have only been able to give her water and crackers since the tragedy. She was a bit dehydrated but otherwise mostly healthy. We're giving her pedialyte, formula and baby food. And hope to be able to continue to do so. The aunt Lucana loves the baby very much and says she reminds her of her sister.

Hit the 4 week mark yesterday evening. It was commemorated with a largish aftershock. (A real one, not one of the phantom ones I have been feeling.)

Sorry there's no photos today. I forgot my camera yesterday. I will have it with me today.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nick's message--Broken Houses, Broken Hearts


From Nick's blog.

This is the message I gave in church on Sunday. I don't have the energy to actually flush out the details. So these are just glorified notes.

  • I'm so happy to be here this morning
  • My heart is in 2 hands
    • Happy to be worshipping God
    • When I open my eyes I'm reminded why we're on the street
    • And all these questions come back into my mind:
      • Why God?
      • Why now?
      • Why here?
      • Why us?
      • I can't handle this, didn't you promise not to give us more than we can handle?
      • Didn't He?
    • 1 Corinthians 10:13
      • No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
    • This is about temptation. Not suffering
      • Suffering is something outside of you that causes you pain
      • Temptation is something in your heart that, if acted upon, will cause others pain
    • God promises to not give us too much temptation, but he doesn't make the same promise about suffering.
    • In Fact he says this in 1 Peter 4:12-13:
      • Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
    • God does not promise to not give us too much suffering. He asks us to rejoice in it.
  • Now I'm not going to the direction you may be thinking of.
    • I'm not going to give you the "all things work out for good" speech.
    • I'm not going to tell you about all the good things that have come from this earthquake
    • Because, I'll be honest, I don't see it
  • What I see, is Jesus… here's what I mean
    • The Passion of the Christ is a movie that depicts the last hours of Jesus and his march toward death.
    • In this movie, they paint a fascinating picture of Satan. Satan is show as an observer of this process. But as he watches, he cheers the process on:
      • Yes! Arrest Him.
      • Yes! Convict Him.
      • Yes! Whip Him.
      • Yes! Mock Him.
      • Yes! March Him up that hill.
      • Yes! Nail Him to the cross.
      • Yes! Stand Him up!
    • But then Jesus breaks
    • And in what should have been his moment of greatest triumph, Satan's face drops because he realizes what has happened:
    • What Satan meant for evil. God had twisted to good.
  • Let me tell you what God desires. This is Psalm 51:16-17
    • You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
  • See, there's no way that we can pretend that the sin humans brought into this world is good thing. But through the brokenness of one man—Jesus Christ—God redeemed our sin.
    • In the same way, no one can pretend that the death and destruction this earthquake caused was good.
    • But, through our brokenness, it can be redeemed
    • Satan meant to break our houses. God wants to break our hearts.
  • In the moments and days after the earthquake, I, Pastor Danny, the rest of our organization, and many of you, went in to action.
    • We say a problem, and we wanted to fix it.
    • At first we went to the airport.
    • We saw that people needed supplies and supplies started to come in
    • But let me tell you, after a week, I couldn't talk, I couldn't hear, and I could barely walk.
    • And I left that airport, for the last time, feeling like I had failed my family, my friends, and my community.
    • Why did I feel like a failure? Because that's not brokenness
    • Satan meant to break our houses. God wants to break our hearts.
  • Now we can rebuild this city.
    • And that's a good thing
    • We can replace what has been destroyed, but we will never be able to redeem it.
    • We can never "buy back" what has been destroyed.
    • Satan meant to break our houses. God wants to break our hearts.
  • After we left the airport, we took on a new task. Supplies had come into the city, but had not yet gotten into the hands of the people who needed it.
    • So we started to distribute.
    • We filled our depot, and people came and took the food away
    • And within a couple of days, the depot was empty
    • And I stood there, in an empty depot, looking at all the people that still needed food, and I felt as if I had failed again.
    • Why? Because that's not brokenness.
    • Satan meant to break our houses. God wants to break our hearts.
  • See, we can help a lot of people.
    • We can lessen the death that this earth quake ends up causing
      • With food
      • With medicine
      • With water
    • And that's a good thing
    • But we cannot redeem the deaths it has already caused
    • We cannot restore honor to the people that have died.
    • Satan meant to break our houses. God wants to break our hearts.
  • See, I've come full circle on this
    • I want to do good things, yes
    • But five years from now, I don't want to look back and remember the work that I did
    • I want to look back at the moment of the earthquake
      • Standing on the stairs, with my child in my arms
      • As earth rolled beneath me
      • I want to remember that as the moment my heart began to break.
    • Satan meant to break our houses. God wants to break our hearts.
    • If I want to be a part of the redemption that God has planned
      • I can't do it through my work
      • I have to break my heart before God
    • Satan meant to break our houses. God wants to break our hearts.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

a reminder of God's grace...

Today was an amazing day at church. Once Nick gets with the program and emails it to me I am going to post his message here on the blog. Was SO what I (and apparently the rest of the church) needed to hear.

But there was another specific thing about church that touched my soul today. It was this man here...

As you can most likely tell from the pictures he has Down Syndrome. I don't even know his name. He goes to our church regularly and is the sweetest-spirited young man. He stands up front and has become sort of a self-appointed deacon. He's always dressed to the nines. He motions for people to stand up when the pastor tells the congregation to stand. He motions for people to sit down when people are supposed to sit down. He encourages people to clap when something good happens. It's quite dear.

Today especially, the day after having such a hard time dealing with the things that I learned about Patricia yesterday, I felt like seeing this was God's special grace to me. That might sound ridiculous but it reminded me that just because it USUALLY does not go well for handicapped children in Haiti doesn't mean it cannot. I needed to see that today.

preacher man

i love my husband. never prouder.

Unsung hero.

Read my mom's blog... it's so true and worth it.

Thank you Gretchen.

A couple of videos...

My friend Barton ( has been shooting some mini movies here in Jacmel--
here's two that I participated in.

The Patricia story continues...

I've been checking on Patricia (the baby Patricia) every day, sometimes twice actually. We have a team of doctors that we're hosting right now and we brought a couple down to check on her.

Oh I don't even know where to begin with what they said...

After a few minutes of examining, the doctor said it was obvious that she's had some sort of brain damage. I asked how that could have happened and he said it could be any number of things-- an accident, a fall, shaken baby, abuse. With the mother, Babette, being only 17 years old, I realized the likelihood of any of these events were probably increased. But she seems to be a pretty conscientious mother so I tried to think the best. As we're discussing these thing I start touching the baby's head to feel if anything feels misaligned. Babette saw me touching her head and said, "She did fall on her head when she was a very little baby." My heart skipped a beat and then I asked her a few clarifying questions.

I said, "You've told me in the past that she's been throwing up her whole life. Did that start before or after the fall?"

Babette said, "Right after." My heart skipped another beat.

I asked her, "The way her body is all curled up and her muscles are all tight and her face is winced in pain... did that start before or after the fall?"

Babette said, "Right after. Everything about her changed after she fell." And my heart sunk.

I communicated this to the doctor and he basically told me that we can try to do something about the vomiting and dehydration but that there won't be anything we can do for the brain damage-- it's irreversible. He said it's likely she's highly damaged, and that he can't say for sure, but she will almost always be very handicapped. Probably not even able to eat solid foods. He said that in the states with good medical care and the many support services available, she'd have a good chance of beginning to thrive somewhat. And then he asked what kind of life is available for a handicapped child in Haiti. And my heart completely broke. Completely.

I don't want to judge or speak ill of Babette, but she's 17. She's a single mom. She LIVES IN HAITI. THERE ARE NO SERVICES FOR HANDICAPPED CHILDREN! What usually happens is that parents who have handicapped children usually just stop feeding them and they starve to death. And when I say that, I am not saying that as something I even BEGIN to understand. But it is very common. And not being in the position of a mother who is poverty stricken, and living in Haiti where there are no services available, it's not my place to judge.

I am going to be completely transparent right now, and it's probably not going to come out the way I actually mean it, but just trust my heart on this -- the thought actually crossed my mind that I was kind of disappointed in myself that I brought her to the hospital the other day when she was so dehydrated. If I didn't, she might be hugging the neck of Jesus in heaven right now. I KNOW that sounds terrible. And I KNOW that most of you won't understand what I mean by that sentiment. But the outlook for her here is so grim I just don't know how to process what her reality is going to be.

Early on Nick warned me not to get too attached to this baby. Part of me thinks I should have listened. The other part of me thinks that in the end, (to quote a line of my favorite song from my favorite music group), "we're better off for all that we let in."

I'll keep you posted as I try to figure out who's right.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Her name is Clara. The preemie.

I actually named her.

When I arrived at the hospital yesterday the mother wasn't there. So I dropped of some preemie diapers and came back today. When I got there mama and baby were there. Dang she's tiny. I asked the mother if she'd given the baby a name. And she said no. Not yet.

I asked her if she was ready to give the baby a name. She said she couldn't think of a name and that I should name her. I told her I didn't want to name the baby, that was the mama's job. She said no-- she'd only name the baby today if I gave her a name.

So I asked her what her name was. It was Clarose. So I said, "How about Clara?" That sounded like a diminutive name to me. She said, "That's good. I like it."

And I said, "Are you sure?"

And she said, "Yes, Clara."

And then all the ladies with their babies in the tent started cheering and calling out, "Clara! Clara!" I had to run but I was sure to hold sweet Clara and say her name over and over to her before I left.

It was a happy moment.


And then a few hours later I got some more news about Patricia... I have to work up the emotional energy to discuss that further. Maybe later. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Baby no name

I stopped by the hospital to see baby Patricia yesterday. She was no longer there (but that's another story). I met this mom who had a preemie last week. (2 months early.) She was tiny. TEENY TINY!

I was talking to the mama and asked her the baby's name. She told me she hadn't named the baby yet. This is actually very common here. Sometimes parents won't name their babies for a long time because they aren't sure if they are going to live. That breaks my heart. Badly.

Now I do know this is a cultural thing and I need to tread lightly on cultural things like this. BUT, I really wanted this baby to have a name. So I asked her when she would name the baby. She said if I came back today to visit she would give the baby a name.

So I am headed there now... We'll see what happens.

In the mean, here's some pics of mama and baby in her tiny, homemade incubator.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Patricia update

I went and visited Patricia yesterday afternoon. She's doing well. Her mom, Babette, saw that she was doing better too and told me that she wanted to go back to the refugee camp with her. I didn't think that was a good idea and told her I would ask the doctor if he thought it was okay. The nurse checked her chart and told me she had not been discharged so I told Babette that she wasn't allowed to leave with her. But I wanted her to be as comfortable as possible. (Disclaimer-- Haitian hospitals, even pre-quake are pretty much do it yourself operations in terms of any kind of care... but I don't have time to go into that now.)

So I took her to my house real quick and got her set up with diapers and wipes, towels and washcloths, baby blankets and then headed over to Leann's house to pick up some donated baby clothes we'd recently gotten in. (It was all girl stuff between 0-12 month sizes... quick the stroke of good luck.) I took Babette back to the camp so she could tell her family what's going on and then picked up some food for her and drove her back. Patricia's IV had gotten all messed up while we were gone and she was SCREAMING. Loudly. While I was sad that she was hurting, I was never more happy to hear a baby cry. She didn't even react hours earlier when they put the IV in except a little wince. I got a nurse to fix the IV, got Babette all settled in for the night and left. I will update you on her when I go see her this morning sometime.

Babette and Patricia

Have I mentioned I love my job?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another Patricia

Today I returned to the camp to do some diaper distribution. Wow. Didn't realize how very badly this was needed. It's becoming a horrific situation there. It rained last night. A lot. So imagine all of these makeshift shanties made of sheets and tarps (occasionally) and tents (very INfrequently) being deluged with rain. The mud was several inches deep and stunk really bad. And remember, most of these don't have floors, or if they do, are generally made out of cardboard. So the whole place was just a mud pit. And there are hundreds of small kids just walking all around in it. Barefooted. Mostly without diapers. They just go to the bathroom when and wherever the urge comes on them. Which lately is very often, since there's a huge diarrhea outbreak in the camp right now. I know that I, personally, cannot solve this problem. But I did get to thinking that if I separated big boxes of diapers and wipes into smaller packets, I could walk around and hand some out. It won't solve the problem. It won't even come close truthfully, but it will help-- even if just a little bit. If there is a LITTLE less diarrhea mixed in with the mud, it's certainly not going to HURT anything.

Last week when I visited the refugee camp I met 2 little girls named Patricia. One of them I talked about last week. This is a pic I took last week of another little girl named Patricia.

She's about 6 months old and was clearly very ill. Her mom says she has a problem with near continual vomiting. It was obvious that she was very dehydrated. She had her face winced in pain but she didn't have the energy to cry. I told the mom that her baby was very sick and needed medical care. I begged her to bring the baby for some medical care and instructed her to continue breastfeeding as much as possible.

Today I stopped by to check on her and give her some diapers/wipes. The baby was still sick-- much sicker in fact. Heartbreaking. The baby was extremely dehydrated. She was non-responsive and hadn't cried in days. She was vomiting profusely and had bad diarrhea. She actually threw up all over me (twice) in the 2 minutes I was holding her. We decided to take her to the hospital and because of some great connections we have with a visiting team of doctors, were able to get her immediate medical care. The doctors got an IV put in and gave her some sugar and within minutes, Patricia started to rally. It was amazing to see. Amazing.

She was admitted to the hospital (now being run by Doctors Without Borders) and I am going to go check on her later today during the food distribution Danny's family is doing later today.