I do not know how to fix Haiti. I have heard a lot of the ideas and I have some myself, but I'm unsure if they will work. The long-term needs are so big and systemic. Some are pretty obvious- housing and education. One other makes sense only if you have walked through a PAP hospital in the last two months: the need for prosthetics. If the world does not want tens of thousands of 1-legged beggars in Haiti, then we're going to need lots of prosthetic legs. Enter Jason.
Jason is on his third trip here. He works with a group called No Boundaries that provides limbs for amputee victims. We have hundreds, maybe thousands, of aid orgs in Haiti, but of everyone I have talked to, Jason and No Boundaries are the only ones doing prostheses. I bribed Jason with a Cuban cigar and made plans to tag along on Sunday when he went to a hospital to measure amputee patients for limbs.
2 hours. 1 Hospital. 8 people to measure. Neat.
The first two measurements were relatively uneventful. I mean, as uneventful as measuring someone's left leg so you can make a replica of the right is. And, as uneventful as doing it in a camping tent because the hospital is full can be. Okay, so it was still pretty eventful.
Ruben was pretty good-natured until they started looking at his wound. The wounds have to heal correctly for the prosthetic to fit, so Jason had to get pretty personal with this kid. Little buddy didn't like that.
I need to be real. After watching Ruben getting measured, I really started to ache for the kid. He was the youngest person in his hospital tent. He cried when anyone touched his wound. It was necessary to pull his shorts down to measure then full length of his good leg. So this 4 year old is standing in front of roughly 15 people, all strangers but his mother, naked from the waist down. It was tough. I wanted to cry for him. When Jason and his translator were done, we walked to another tent. Jason's translator, Alf, said, "It is hard, working with the kids. So sad." I know Alf to be a very energetic and eager young man who wants to help his country and his people. He has worked everywhere that the Quisqueya Crisis Relief Center has sent teams. When Alf says something is hard and sad, he says so with more knowledge and experience than I can put into words or that you could imagine.
Jason and Alf went into the next tent. It was too crowded for one more, so I walked around outside. I was secretly thankful for some time not staring at a scarred piece of flesh that ended where a thigh or shin should have been. I thought about Quincy, the 5-year-old nephew of one of our cafeteria workers who we treated the night of the quake and was in traction for a femur fracture for a few weeks. This could have been him if he had not received adequate care.
It was very difficult to look around this hospital. They are doing they best they can, but its just not at a standard that should be acceptable.
Here are some of their videos.