Monday, May 11, 2009

Aneve's Arrival

On February 10th, a little boy named Aneve joined our household. His father and grandfather, both of who are also named Aneve, brought him to our door. It was very apparent that this little boy was suffering from the effects of Kwashiorkor, which is a form of malnutrition caused by a lack of protein, which causes edema(swelling), thinning of the hair, irritability, and other serious issues including liver damage, and this is the cause of many childhood deaths in Haiti. Aneve's mother had died suddenly about a month before, and they had been trying to care for Aneve and his two older brothers. Thankfully they took the perogative to come for help before it was too late. It was really a sad thing to see them come, knowing that this little boy was so sick, knowing they could not provide for him, and knowing that they were going to have to give up their namesake. That is one of the things that I still struggle with so much in Haiti...knowing and seeing so often that people love and want their kids, but even more so, they love them and want them to live. I wish so often that we could just take kids in more often and get them on their feet, and then send them home. But, as I have learned, that's not always possible. We do have a number of community kids that come and stay for a short while here and there, but they have mothers. Mothers are the key to a lot I have learned. I was recently reading an article about a doctor who works with new and expectant mothers in Africa, and she addressed the reality that when mothers die, families fall apart, and when families fall apart, society is not far behind. This such a stark reality in Haiti. God really knew what he was doing when He invented the family.

Aneve has come a long way in the last 3 months. He cried a lot the first while, and we spent lots of time holding him and just comforting him. His skin has almost cleared up now(he was covered with impitego and ringworm) , and has lost that dried/cracked texture. He has become a very smiley cute little boy! Not to mention he wins the award for the blackest little Haitian in the house!

Minnie holding the newly bathed and shaved little Aneve

Aneve's skin was swollen and loose and infected and...oh he was a mess!

Swollen hands

Kids with Kwashiorkor face many challanges, one of which is that their cells begin to absorb water, causing swelling, which then over time causes their skin to start cracking(you can see this really well on his leg), and soon after fluid starts seeping out as their body cannot contain all the fluid build-up. Aneve came to us just before his skin started seeping fluid.

This is Aneve 5 days after he arrived. He started smiling and it was amazing to watch the healing take place in his body and spirit.

As you can see, Aneve is beautiful BLACK baby! (notice the shades of brown!)

Derson's New Wheels

Many of you know Derson and his story. He is a 10 year old boy who is hydrocephalic, which in the simplest of terms means he has water on his brain. This causes pressure which affects development and abilities in many ways. Derson is unable to walk, though he used to pull himself to his feet in his crib when he was smaller. Now that he has gotten so big, he is not able to do so any longer. However, he does feed himself, and when he chooses to be, can be very interactive. He loves to laugh, especially when one of the older children is getting scolded about something, or when someone takes the time to sit with him and just chat. A great guy who was here last year managed to put together a wheelchair for Derson with pieces of other wheelchairs we had around here, and that held out for almost a year. I began looking at somehow getting another chair for him a few months ago...and to be honest, had no idea where to start. However, I was checking out the blog of our friends who work up in Cazale, and low-and-behold (is that even how you write that...I just realized I have NEVER written that phrase before!) there was a little story there about them having a chair in the states that they wanted to get on their container! On a whim, I wrote and said "hey, when that chair gets here, if you haven't already designated it for someone, we have a little boy who would love it!". Lori or Licia wrote back and said "we would love you to have it! And in the mean time, we have another one in storage you can have too!!" So, a few weeks later we met up with them in Port-au-Prince and Thym brought home Derson's new chair. It brought tears to my eyes when I saw how almost perfectly it fit him! I am always reminded how God knows....he knows our names, our needs, our hopes....way before we even realize them ourselves!

Derson and his stylin' new chair

There was no seatbelt for the chair, so I found some luggage straps, ripped apart some seams, made some new seams, and wa-la (again, how do you spell these expressions!?!??) Derson smiled much more than usual that day, as everyone came over to compliment him on his new wheels, and he burst into laughter and shook his head no when Grandma asked for a ride!

Feb/Mar/April Birthdays

Samuel-1...and there goes the cake!

With all of the craziness at the house, we got a little behind on the birthdays. A couple weeks before I came home, I realized I had better get on organizing the birthday bash, or when I came back we would be even farther behind! Thankfully we had a lot of people(big and small) around to help decorate all 6 cakes (which sometimes be a little stressful on my sometimes perfectionistic self) , and help put up balloons and streamers! So, for all of you who have been wondering what cakes we came up with this time, here you go!

Richard-1st Birthday

Ketteline-8(Thanks for the 5 lbs of Mini Eggs Mom, they made this butterfly delish!)

Conleigh reminded everyone of a little madamoiselle with her hat!

The Birthday Gang

Jay-2, Ketteline-8, Conleigh-2
Richard-1, Naika-4, Samuel-1

Conleigh was full of dramatic faces...excited and a little overwhelmed at the attention!

Pardon the lack of Naika pictures. I was holding her, and thus the pics of her are on someone else's camera. This is her watermelon cake. I will post some pics of the birthday girl when I figure out whose camera they are on!

Everyone enjoying Chico's(cheesies from the Dominican) and Tampico(fruit juice from Haiti) and cake and excitement!

Jay turned 2. It was his first birthday with us and he wasn't too sure about everything, but definitely didn't mind when he realized he could eat the boat!

I have decided I need to make my cakes less appealing...or at least use fewer fun candy embellishments!!!! Just look at Conleigh's face...she was ready to go in for the kill...and she did, of course heading straight for the poor bunny's eyeballs! I actually LOVE making cakes for the kids...though now I personally have obtained this "wanting as close to perfection in Haiti as possible with my newly learned and limited cake decorating skills" attitude, which is very annoying as I realize I have spent WAY too long on a cake! But, it's always a labour of love!

Parent's beware:these children now accept only really cool cakes! Or at least ones with lots of love poured into them!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

67= the number of days since I last blogged. Crazy! Can't believe that much time has gone past! So much has happened that is definitely worth blogging, but so much was happening it wasn't worth taking the time blog! And I did indeed have many days where I specifically had to make a point of going to the bathroom. Glad to share that information with youNow I am home for a month to visit and relax, and now I will begin the quest to catch you all up on what has been happening in Haiti! Thanks for continuing to look at my blog everyday, curse me under your breathe, and do the same thing the next day, for the last 3 months!

The last time I blogged, before I blogged about not blogging, I was headed to Cap Haitian to take Rose Lissa for bilateral clubbed foot surgery, and my youngest brother had decided to come to Haiti for a visit. So, that is where we will begin!

Trip to Cap Haitian

Our Ride...I really wondered what Rose Lissa and her dad Sadrack would think, especially when I realized how loud this little plane was! But, Rose just fell asleep right away and Sadrack didn't say too much, just grinned a couple times.

We arrived in Cap Haitain(Rose Lissa, her dad Sadrack, and myself) on Feb 15th, and were picked up at the airport by Pat and Clark Moore. They are a great couple in their 60's who have been married for 6 years, though have been in Haiti prior to being married for many years. Pat is a nurse and oversees 2 clinics in the O-Kap area,along with many other things, and Clark has spent many years doing amazing archeological research regarding Colombus and the original inhabitants of the island of Hispanolia(Haiti/Dominican). I had never met them before, and was delighted to be so welcomed into the home of these wonderful people.

The view from Pat and Clark's balcony. Amazing!

Pat Moore and Rose Lissa

We got settled in and headed up to the Justinien Hospital the next day to meet up with Dr.Nelson and his team. I was amazed at the HUGE number of people waiting outside the ortho unit to be seen by the CURE team. Children and adults with all sorts of deformities of upper and lower limbs, as well as scoliosis and other similiar issues were patiently waiting in the heat, sitting wherever they could find space, hope etched across the faces of them and their families. We were kinda led to the front of the line as they knew we were coming, and Dr. Nelson took a look at Rose quite quickly and they scheduled her for surgery that Wednesday. During this time, I could see that though they had a couple of good translators, there was a lot still to be done. So I asked if they wanted some help translating for a while, and was greeted with "seriously!? Please!" So, Sadrack and RoseLissa and Clark headed back down to the house, and I assured them that I would get back before dark.

A few minutes later I was in my element! The little 10x5' room was constantly filled with people, sharing their stories and eagerly waiting for what the doctors could tell them. I had tears in my eyes a number of times, especially when seeing the joy on parent's faces when I translated for them that "yes, your child can be helped this week!" It was an amazing experience! I spent about 4 hours with them before I realized I had better head back to the house! I had never translated in such an intense setting before, but I remember thinking, man, I need to do this more often! I felt so thankful that God has blessed me with the gift of speaking Creole!

The Docs

This piece of bone had worked its way out of this little boys leg after CURE teams had done surgery back in September.

His xrays showed that the bone had regrown and completely healed, and had effectively gotten rid of the piece of bone that had been injured. It was kinda fun to see the doctors so amazed!

The next day, we headed to get lab work and xrays done for RoseLissa. We had quite the treck across O-Kap to find an xray place that actually had a working machine(good old Haiti!) and then spent the majority of the day waiting to be seen...apparently everyone being seen by the CURE team had all come to the same x-ray clinic! Much of the time there was spent smiling and listening to everyone share their two-bits about how I should and should not take care of RoseLissa, and answering all kinds of questions about why I was there with her, and what was wrong with her, and why in the world if I am from Canada do I not speak immaculate French!

During the time we were at the xray clinic, I got a very sad phone call from Pat. They had called earlier in the morning to let me know that Vens was sick and on his way to the hospital. The second call was to let me know that Vens had died en-route. It was very difficult to deal with that news in front of a roomful of Haitians, trying to stay in control and not give them anything else to question me about. I felt myself wishing I was more Haitian, and could just let out these gut-wrenching sobs that were threatening to overtake me. God carried me through, and shortly after that phone call we got called in to have RoseLissa's x-rays done. She started screaming as soon as I walked in and put her down to take her dress off, and as soon as I put her on the table, she started to pee. Not a little bit either:a definite flood! We all laughed. We had to. And that was how God distracted me from my grief for a while and allowed me to focus on caring for RoseLissa. It reminded me of when Simon died and shortly after we discovered a wasp nest in the baby room and had to focus on getting them all out! God is in control!

During that time, we realized that we were not gonna be done in time to get to the airport to get Caleb who had flown into Haiti and was flying up to meet us in Cap Haitian. So, Pat saved the day and went to meet him for me! So when we got back to the house, it was so great to be met my little brother who was a little surprised at how little I was!

Caleb and I

That brought us to Wednesday, the day of RoseLissa's surgery! We got to the hospital around 7am and waited with the other people scheduled for surgery for the docs to show up. They soon came hopping off tap-taps and we headed to the OR. We had to wait for a while, and in that time, Dr. Nelson and company stole me off to translate for them, as they went and looked at x-rays and saw people who had had surgery the day before. When I got back, the nurses had already taken Rose Lissa to get prepped for surgery. I walked down the hallway and when I saw Dr. Nelson I asked him if I could get a pic of Rose before they started operating. He asked if I wanted to just come on in and watch her surgery! I jumped at the chance, and 5 minutes later they had me all scrubbed up and peering over their shoulders...from a safe non-germy distance of course! It was amazing! I had tears in my eyes a number of times, seeing the gifts that God has given to His creation and their abilites to do such incredible things!!

Right before can see how crooked her little feet were

Rose's little feet straight for the first time!

Putting casts on

Recovering. Rose's dad came in and immediatly pulled back the blanket that was covering her legs. He looked at her straight little feet, covered them back up, and then uncovered them again...and left them uncovered. And then he proceeded to take a bunch of pictures. It was really moving to watch him absorb the reality of the amazing change already visible.

Sadrack and a new friend we made there arriving after surgery

I was lucky to have a good relationship with Dr.Nelson, and he allowed us to leave a few hours after her surgery and go back to Pat and Clark's house instead of staying at the hospital! That was a huge blessing, cuz staying at a Haitian hospital is no cup of tea! It is NOTHING like a hospital in Canada! Rose recovered really well...she cried a lot the first few hours after we got back to the house, though we seemed to manage her pain fairly well with Tylenol and Advil. I thought for sure I was going to be up all night with her, but God was gracious and allowed her to sleep through the night. At this point I cried a lot about Vens, I think finally able to relax that the hardest part with RoseLissa was behind us.

Bathtime took on a whole new meaning...and Rose hated it!

Caleb and Sadrack spent a lot of time teaching each other their native language...and running over to me to translate for them!

It didn't take long for Rose to get back to her normal little silly self, and she loved being the centre of coddled attention!

We went back to the hospital 2 days later, where the docs removed her first set of casts, ensured everything looked good, and put on another set of casts that she would wear for 6 weeks, at which time another set would be put on for 6 more weeks! We all had a good laugh, because as soon as Rose saw the doctors, she started screaming! Everything looked great, and we were given the go ahead to head home. We stayed there until Saturday, during which time I had such wonderful help from Pat and her friend Pam who provided such care to all of us, and really shared the load with RoseLissa. I am so thankful that God has plans that surpass all of my best laid plans and hopes!

Rose and her Daddy
Rose and Caleb...she still wasn't so sure of this big white guy who insisted on making weird faces at her!

Rose Lissa is doing great! She recently had her casts changed and has 3 more weeks until she is done. She insists and pulling herself all over the floor, and recently standing up, effectively wearing out her casts! It is so fun to see the determination she has! After her casts come off, she will need some ankle-foot orthosis(a suuport for her ankle/foot, and it is likely that further surgery will be required for her knees and hip. Please continue to pray that God will continue to heal and restore her! Thanks to all of you who supported this endeavor for RoseLissa with your prayers and finances! It's been amazing to know the power of prayer!