Call it the peer-recommendation that saved a life.
Last Monday, 16-year old Nathalie fell ill at her home on Rue-Frères, convulsing with the pain and shock as she experienced an enormous amount of fluid loss in just a couple of hours. It was not the first time she had been ill. Previously, she had been diagnosed with a form of anemia so severe that she was unable to attend school. The anemia also disfigured her so that her abdomen and legs were largely swollen with fluid. As a result of the disfiguration, her parents concluded that their daughter had been afflicted with a voodoo curse. When her cholera symptoms commenced, Nathalie’s parents instead assumed that the next part of the curse had commenced.
“They kept me at home and spent the whole night praying for me,” Nathalie explains. “But the next day, I was even worse. I felt so horrible. And then my neighbor came to me and told me that she had been sick too and had gone to the St. Philomena Rehydration Center in Tabarre. We talked more, and I realized I was one of the ten people in my neighborhood who had gotten infected with this critical epidemic they call cholera.”
Nathalie’s neighbor’s visit “convinced my parents to bring me to Tabarre. I entered the center Tuesday morning at 10:15 am very sad and scared that I was going to die. I felt so sick. I was ready to give up and say goodbye to my family that I loved so much. My eyes were filled with a river of tears, and I was talking to myself. I said ‘Nathalie’ it’s over, everything’s over.”
She takes a pause. “But it wasn’t true.”
Nathalie explains: “The doctors and nurses rushed to take me off the pickup truck that I was in, and carried me into the tent. They took perfect care of me. All the medicine I needed, they gave me.”
Now, on Thursday morning, Nathalie sits up in her chair, dressed in an immaculate blue t-shirt and striped skirt, and smiles. “I feel good,” she says, “and I am ready to go home. I don’t know how to estimate my joyfulness and how much thanks I should give to every single person who worked to help NPH be what it is today. Because NPH today is able to serve all the poor Haitians in the country. I thank everyone for their support-the doctors, nurses, and the volunteers, as well as the donors and everyone who manages the organization. They saved my life.”