It is closer to midnight than not, and I just came back from our cholera tent hospital after delivering more IV needles that get drilled directly into the bone, and after trying to find more gasoline for the generator. The inter osseous IV catheters have saved the lives of the most dehydrated patients. The moon is nearly full, directly over head. You need to bend your head fully back to see its beauty. Full, like God’s eye watching us. Full, like God’s heart holding us.
Our tents also glow, like the moon. Five of them so far, with 16 cots each. Four more tents are dark, but vigilant and ready. The lit tents look pretty from far away, but they house quite an scary struggle. Most come away victorious. if not limping.
In the short time since we opened, 167 people have found help here, all with bad diarrheas, most of them consistent with cholera. Ten have died, and of these three were already dead when they reached our gate. That’s almost a 6% death rate. Let’s aim toward zero.
We have buried many dead that are not our own: thirty on Thursday, and we will bury another fifty in the morning, all from the public morgue. Destitute dead, for whose bodies and souls we offer a last and essential care. The word care is from a Latin word, cura, which also means treatment. It is a last treatment, a last good treatment, both for us and for them.
A few nights ago, when we had the funeral of one of the children that died of cholera, the children from our St Louis Home came to the mass and sang. These are children who are victims of the earthquake. In the candlelight chapel, small victims of the earthquake sang for small victims of cholera. Life is a circle, whose center is everywhere.
Even though there are violent manifestations around the city, related to politics and related to an out lash against homelessness, joblessness, hunger and cholera, we have quietly distributed 5,000 bags of rice over these days to reassure decent people who are poor and stressed that it is worth holding out for better days.
For those who like to know this, it takes about $22 to save the life of a child from cholera. From sources I have seen online, cholera can have as much as 50% fatality rate in untreated cases. I think you will agree that $22 is not very much money to keep a child alive and give her back to her mother. That includes the treatment with azythromycin and about 5 liters of IV fluid on average and re hydration salts.To keep mom alive is even a better deal, about $20. Mom needs almost twice as much IV fluid, but the doxycycline mom needs is much cheaper than azythromycin. Let’s splurge. Its the right thing to do.
There are many organizations doing heroic things in Haiti at the moment. We are very proud of our staff, our volunteers, visitors and young adults we have raised from childhood, who are doing heroic things as well. We especially remember Fr Wasson whose charism we carry on, and ask his help from heaven. We are fully confident we will see better days.
As always, thanks for your prayers and your help!
Fr Rick Frechette