Remembering Emily and Ricardo

Emily and her mom at Kay St. Germaine in TabarreOn June the 25th the world was shocked with the news that Michael Jackson had died. On the same day Farah Fawcett died and the world of entertainment, paid homage to these two entertainers that had brought a lot of joy to the lives of people all around the world. On Friday as the world cried for Michael Jackson, a little girl called Emily, left this life and in our rehab center Kay Ste. Germaine, and our world cried for Emily.

Emily first came to us four years ago and at that stage she was a very fragile little girl. Meningitis had left her brain damaged and Poverty was determined to give her to Death at the earliest possible time. Let no one ever underestimate the power of Poverty! Death has long been pronounced our enemy but our real enemy is Poverty!

So Emily came to us in a very fragile state and often we feared she would die. Her mother Dieusimose,– seen above with Emily-, a woman of amazing courage, was determined that her daughter would recover. Such determination – in the face of so many problems! For four years Dieusimose brought Emily to our centre – day in and day out. For four years she struggled with the Poverty and for four years she kept going. She gave one of her other children(Emily’s twin) up for adoption because she could not manage with three – she kept Emily and another little boy. We would give her the money to take the public transport to and from our centre and sometimes she would walk the last bit of the journey so she would save a little of the money. So she could fight Poverty! Oh God in heaven, why has Poverty such power in Haiti!

Emily started to grow and Emily started to put on weight. Emily started to breathe better. Emily started to look more alive and Dieusimose continued to tell everyone that her child was better and that one day she would walk. She had renamed her child Laza (Lazerus) because she had “come back from the dead.”

Death – walks side by side with us every day, silently watching us, silently sharing our lives and silently waiting for its moment. Silently waiting to makes his presence felt in our lives. And so it was that Death came and took Emily from Dieusimose while Dieusimose was feeding her. Years of fighting, years of courage, years of hope – all powerless to stop the inevitable! Sometimes Death gives you a hint, like a phone call that soon he will visit. In this case we got no such warning! On the Thurs. Emily was standing in her standing frame and Dieusimose was pushing her around the centre, proud that her daughter was getting close to the day that she would walk by herself. Friday morning 10am she was already lying dead in her Mothers arms. It seems she died from aspiration – the milk she was drinking went into her lungs and her mother did not realize this. Emily was five years of age.

The following Monday, in our program in Petionville, I held and played with Ricardo.



Ricardo has been coming to us since Jan. 2006. Ricardo also suffered from meningitis and when he first came to us he had great difficulty breathing. Over the years his breathing improved and he soon became a favourite with all the ladies! His mother Kettline, never despaired and always brought him for therapy. He never gained much weight despite our best efforts but he was always a happy fella and always quick with his beautiful smile. He was always well dressed – snazzy shirts and snazzy boots! He was always ready for a kiss and a cuddle and his little eyes would light up when he saw you coming!

He came to our clinic on Monday the 29th and he was his usual smiley self. I thought he looked very thin but his breathing was good and he enjoyed to be held and made a fuss of! The following day his mother phoned me to tell me that he had died that morning. Just like that. She fed him and felt he was not interested in eating so she put him to bed as she thought he was asleep. Later when she went to check on him she did not like how she saw him so she called a neighbor. He was already dead and indeed it seems like he had died in her arms, when she thought he was asleep.

Emily and Ricardo – not household names like Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett but two very very special children! Two victims of Meningitis, two children deprived of a childhood they deserved. Two children born into a Haiti that offers little to those that are different. Two fighters that were determined to live and that fought off death on many occasions. Emily and Ricardo – in the eyes of many they were “not real” because in Haiti many misunderstand, and undervalue special needs kids. Many people encouraged their mothers to abandon them but these mothers were just as determined as their children and they gave all their energy to seek a better life for the kids. Both kids had beautiful loving mothers and both kids knew what it meant to be cherished and loved. What now for these mothers? Sad faces, sleepless nights, arms that ache to wrap around little bodies! A resigned acceptance.

What for us that have known and loved the kids in our programs for the past few years? We are sad and we miss them. We are thankful that we had a chance to know and love them and we thank God for bringing them to us. May they run and jump in eternal joy and laughter!

Emily and Ricardo

Two kids, two lives,

Lifeless bodies, heart wrenching cries,

Years of struggling, fighting death,

All over now, one final breath.

Two kids, two lives,

Weakened mothers, so many why’s.

No warning, no sign,

In loving arms, one last time.

Two kids, two lives,

Tiny coffins, closed eyes,

Young bodies, laid to rest,

Grieving mothers, did their best.

Two kids, two lives,

Funerals over, countless sighs,

Empty arms, hang loose,

Overwhelming grief, tightens its noose.

Emily, Ricardo- to God they went,

Dieusimose and Ketteline – energies spent.

Life goes on but the tears still fall,

In the quiet of the night, to God they call!

Two kids, two lives,

A better place, loosens all ties.

Liberated bodies, enjoy new space,

In the hands of the Lord, they dance with grace.

Gena Heraty

July 09

One thought on “Remembering Emily and Ricardo

  1. Jim King says:

    After reading these stories, I recalled two women I saw in a street market in Cazeau tearing a piece of cloth. Each then had a whole piece of cloth. Haiti has a way of tearing your heart , but gives you something whole.

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