When happiness and sorrow are so close

by Ruth Bücker, 2010/11/11

Some experiences and situations in life result in a unique state of happiness. Others, in turn, cause us worries and sorrow. Again and again events take place in our lives that force us to think about the joy of life and the sorrows of death. Yesterday was one of those days when all of this happens at once.

As the week before, coordinator Caroline Klein and two members of our medical team drove to the village Grand Saline by boats provided by MINUSTAH. Due to the heavy rainfalls that have come down recently, the small community is completely cut off the surrounding area.

Due to the heavy rains that have come down recently, entire regions in Haiti are flooded. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

Besides a distribution of food and water organised by the UN blue helmets, the inhabitants also received medical care administered by Dr Rashid Al Badi and Norman Hecker. And the doctors helped a little baby girl into the world.

The expectant mother had already been in labour for several hours when we arrived in Grand Saline. It soon became clear why the birth did not progress: the baby was positioned the wrong way round in her mother’s womb. Instead of the head, Dr Rashid Al Badi could only feel its bottom. Under the prevailing circumstances an abdominal delivery like in Germany or transport to a hospital was not feasible.

But the story came to a happy end and Caroline and I became little Christina’s godparents. It was a wonderful feeling to be there the moment the little girl came into the world. And since I am not a professional medic, it was an even more exciting experience for me to cut the umbilical cord. I was not only there, but I was taking part.

Dr Rashid Al Badi, doctor of the humedica team in Haiti, and the mother of the newborn child. Joy about the successful birth was immense. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

I was happy. I could see in his face how Dr Rashid felt. And all the neighbours who had come together in the small hut were laughing and clapping their hands. Unfortunately, this moment of joy was interrupted abruptly. A woman living in the village came in and told us the doctors would be needed urgently outside.

A father had brought his little boy to the hut; he knew that our doctors were there and had just helped to deliver a baby. And then we were confronted with a scene that immediately reminded us once more of the people’s misery here.

The little boy was lying limply in his father’s arms. He was unable to hold up his head, which seemed far too large for his emaciated body and hung down over his father’s arm. The humedica doctors diagnosed severe undernutrition and dehydration.

Just a few moments before, I had felt so happy and cheerful, but now this feeling passed quickly. Due to his dehydration, the little boy had very bad veins and it turned out to be difficult to put him on a life-saving drip infusion. Our doctors could not hit a blood vessels neither in the boy’s feet nor in the crook of his arms.

His body became ever weaker; he lost more and more strength. His head fell back again and again and his eyes were only half open. When the doctors finally found a vein and liquid started dripping into the boy’s little body, it had almost been too late to save this young life.

Joy amidst omnipresent misery: thanks to the work of the humedica team, little Christina came into the world healthily. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

I would love to tell you that also this story had a happy end. But I cannot, since I do not know how it ended. The team had already been in the village two hours longer than planned. Our colleagues of MINUSTAH asked us to leave as soon as possible for safety reasons, since the drive back would still last one hour and it would soon become dark.

We had no other choice than to leave further necessary drip infusions to the local nurse and to ask her to take care of the boy during the night. I would love to tell you that the little boy has survived. But unfortunately I do not know it myself.

We have done everything in our power. But nevertheless there is the thought that maybe it has not been enough for the little boy. If not for the humedica team, he would have died this afternoon. This thought and the event of little Christina’s birth at least help a little to ease the nagging doubts.

Please continue supporting our relief efforts for the people in Haiti.
      humedica e. V.
      Donation reference “Haiti Cholera
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also make a donation in a secure, fast and direct way by means of sending a text message: simply send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90. Of your donation of 5 euros, 4.83 euros will be directly channelled into the humedica relief projects.

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