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Parents in rural Haiti sacrifice a lot for their children.  We see it on a daily basis as they walk for miles with little children in their arms under the hot sun, in the rain and on muddy or rocky terrain.  One little 14 month old girl was brought to the clinic as an emergency one day. A plank had fallen on her right foot and her big toe was badly cut, leaving just a strand of tissue holding it in place.  We told her mother she needed to go to the hospital right away to have the toe amputated. We could tell she was extremely poor and we were afraid she wouldn’t take the child down the mountain for care. So, we gave her some money from our Poor Fund to get down there on a motorcycle and to pay for her initial care.  Well, the little girl had the surgery and her mother faithfully walked down the mountain to the hospital every couple of days for the next two weeks for dressings and wound care. One day we stopped her and told her she could follow up with us instead and didn’t need to make the trek down to the hospital in Jeremie. So, since then, she’s been coming in for dressings and the wound is nearly healed.  She’s a cute little girl, usually with a big smile on her face and we enjoy seeing her. She’s also in our malnutrition program, so we’re helping her mother get her healthy. Hopefully, soon she’ll start to walk!

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We’re back to beanies again and this little girl was so scared when she saw a beanie for the first time that she screamed.

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Then, the temptation to touch the beanie was too much for her and, in spite of her fear, she cautiously reached out and touched it.

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Finally, she and beanie became best friends.

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One of our most faithful patients is little 7 year old Nadege Jean Louis, who has sickle cell anemia.  She’s a quiet little girl who always seems to appreciate coming to the clinic, even when she is having pain or fever from her sickle cell disease.  On a recent visit, her mother told me that Nadege “converted herself”. She decided, on her own, to go to a local church and accept the Lord. She’s been going to their services every week since then and is in the choir.  I asked the mother if she goes with Nadege to church and she said, “Oh no, I go to my own church. She goes to church by herself.” Amazing little girl! Pray for her health, both physical and spiritual.

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When people in the US give us gifts for our patients, they often take months to be shipped down here in drums on a shipping container.  But, they eventually arrive and we like to let them know that the gifts are being used and appreciated. Last November, my home church, Kingston Presbyterian Church, had an intergenerational Sunday School and they made various crafts to be sent to children here in Haiti.  One of the craft projects was to make little bunnies out of white washcloths, decorated with eyes, whiskers and a tail. Here is one of our patients holding his little NJ bunny! 

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It’s a boy and look at the braids!

We’ve recently started a program for malnourished children through the Haitian Public Health Department.  Every child under five is weighed and measured to determine if they are normal, at risk of malnutrition or have definite malnutrition.  If they are malnourished, they are entered into a program where they are given “Plumpynut”, a peanut butter mixture, daily and they’re seen at the clinic every two weeks for three months.  We have about 12 children enrolled in the program right now, including these 8 month old twins – a boy and a girl. Here they are with their parents, who walk about an hour each way to bring them to clinic every two weeks.  They are grateful for the help in raising these precious little babies.

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We are blessed to have a lot of churches, children and adults who send us toys and beanie babies so we can give them to our pediatric patients.  In the US, most children love little beanies and stuffed animals and grab them tight when they’re given to them. In Haiti, though, most little girls are scared of the beanies and cry when they see them, because they’re not used to such things.  Here’s how one beanie episode played out:

You want me to touch this?

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No thanks, Doc.

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Well, on second thought, Mom, maybe you can put it in your purse to take home.

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Most of the boys accept beanies right away without fear, but when given a choice they usually prefer cars!  This little boy is quite happy with a beanie but he was already given a car on a previous visit. That’s probably why he’s smiling so much.

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In rural Haiti, it is traditional that parents do not cut a boy’s hair until he is walking and talking.  So, most boys under two years of age have long, braided hair that makes them look like girls! I always laugh about it, asking parents what connection there is between hair and feet?!  Of course, they have their beliefs and stick with them no matter what the doctor thinks. Here’s a cute little braided-hair boy who came to see us a few weeks ago:

Stay tuned for another fun post featuring more of our pediatric patients tomorrow!

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