This past weekend was Easter Sunday. For Christens, the day is the anniversary of a resurrection and symbolizes hope for all of humanity. No matter your religious beliefs, or non-beliefs, it’s still springtime when snow thaws (in some places) and flowers bloom again (along with our allergies!) Almost three months after the earthquake in Haiti, I am reminded of the unshakable faith of the Haitian people in life and their will to trudge on no matter the hardship. As a foreigner in the Haiti, witnessing poverty and suffering nonexistent in developed countries, this hope is difficult to understand. But still, we often hear: “Oh no I am not discouraged. I cannot get discouraged because I am a child of God.” Or, “Jesus is good. I’ll be OK.”
I recently received an update from Gena who is in charge of Kay Germain Special Needs programs, which is unfortunately now more in need than ever before, and she touched on this same topic. She begins her update by saying: Many of the children and adults we are treating were buried under the rubble after the earthquake, (an indescribable feeling.) You would think that the quake was their calvary but in fact it was not. Because the real Calvary was: having to live when so many loved ones died! Having to accept that a leg, an arm, two legs, one arm one leg had to be amputated! Having to accept that everything you owned is now a piece of rubble, one of many photos floating around on the Internet! Having to worry about how in the name of God, will you be able to take care of your two-month-old baby that has lost one leg and you have nothing but a recently acquired tent to call home for your baby and two other kids!
My lot doesn’t compare to what she described. I got to keep all my appendages after being trapped by a fallen building and am not living in a tent. But on January 12 I did lose a brother and a very close friend. I can attest that surviving is much easier than living so in a small way I can commiserate with the Haitian people, but I am not sure I could ever match their spirit. Gena and colleagues have been working tirelessly to get many Haitians “back on their feet” and the following is just one story of inspiration from Gena:
When we first met Johanne we were really worried about her. She had a severe brain injury that left her as good as dead as far as many were concerned. The doctors assured us there was little hope of a resurrection. Some weeks ago I wrote about Johanne and I remember writing that we are people of hope and we would continue to hope for her. Her faithful mother and grandmother never left her side. Norma and her team of therapists were always working with Joanne and other mothers in the hospital were all wishing for Joanne to wake up, for her to get out of “her tomb!”
Three months have almost gone by and how is Joanne now?
If you think that it looks like she is smiling in the first photo – you
are right!! Johanne is so much better! She is now very responsive but when we were taking the photo she just wanted to sleep. We were begging her to open her eyes for the photo and she gave that little sheepish smile before consenting to our plea. She is, by the way, modeling one of my NEW three new caps! You will notice Norma is also wearing a new cap so you can see what a trendsetter I am. Do you see how Johanne looks like her Mam? This Mam deserves any number of awards for unfailing courage, strength, hope and love.
We are very happy with the progress Johanne has made. If you ask her to give you her hand she will try and lift her hand to you and it is obvious that she is aware of what is going on around her. She no longer needs a feeding tube and while she is very thin we are hopeful that she will continue to regain weight. She is now able to complain when she is not comfortable and she makes noises when she wants to communicate. She smiles; Oh the beauty of a smile from Johanne!
Johanne is a beacon of hope for all of us. She suffered so much, lost so much, could so easily have died. But she is a fighter. She, like the Haitian people, is not going to give up without a fight and luckily for her she has a host of people around her to help her fight. To me this is the story of the resurrection! All the people that love Johanne are with her every day, helping her shake off the forces of darkness that want to claim her for death and for coma. All she needed was this love to help her fight and with this love she is doing great work herself! She has a long way to go but the important thing is that through our program she will have very good care and she will be given every opportunity to improve!
This is only one of Gena’s stories of triumph against all odds. For the past three months Kay Germain programs have started seeing amputees, both pediatric and adult, with an average of 25 patients a day coming to the clinic for treatment. The program has hired four new people to act as physical therapists and with the help of an Israeli organization in addition to volunteers from Italy, Ireland and the United States, is training all staff to treat specific needs post-earthquake. The therapists (from Israel) are coming from Alyn Hospital and we are very fortunate to have then with us as their standard is very high and just what we need for our program…The HUGE task of managing all of these therapists and all of this work has rested with Norma (Lopez) and amazingly enough she is still standing and going strong! We are very, very lucky to have Norma with us full time!
There is much more to say but in order to keep this entry as brief as possible, I will save the rest of the update for another day. In closing, I am going to again use Gena’s words as they are perfectly appropriate:
Since January 12 people all over the world have opened their hearts (and their wallets!) to the people of Haiti. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your efforts. Here in Haiti we are working hard to put your money to good use. We are trying to create a ressurection every. With your help our voices are stronger and our ressurections are multiplied. Please continue this journey with us, as we act with faith, hope and love.