Well that’s just a tongue twister, isn’t it? This week I want you all to meet Mama Meta. She is fabulous. This post is really about her but in the bigger scheme of things, it’s really a testimony to how strong and awesome all the mom’s are that I pass, meet or talk to daily.
I met Mama Meta and Meta in Salon Mango (the Cancer room) quickly after arriving to Haiti and I immediately fell in love with the little guy but his mom welcomed me with open arms before I could even say, “ki jan ou rele?”
Mama Meta started noticing her little man wasn’t himself early last year. He started sleeping more in the day, complaining of pain and x, y, and z additional symptoms. After being referred from doctor to doctor, clinic to clinic and given diagnosis after diagnosis, she ended up at St. Damien when they finally diagnosed him with cancer. That was seven months ago and the two of them haven’t spent a night at home since.
You should know that cancer is difficult to treat and a horrible thing anywhere you are, but in Haiti it is just another obstacle in, for many people, an already challenging situation. Although I’ve never been to Mama Meta’s house, I know it’s not the best place for Meta to be and with Meta getting treatment, having his immune system shot, it’s not worth the risk, that is, if the risk is avoidable. When Meta isn’t getting treatment at St. Damien the two of them stay at the Sister’s of Charity house for sick children. The mothers that live there with their children have to work or help the sisters in anyway they can for a bed at the house. I think it’s a fair trade. Mama Meta responsibilities have really developed into being the local liaison between the cancer room at St. Damien and the Sisters of Charity. She will bring food to other mothers in the same program, make sure everyone has the necessities and come to get updates on the children for the sisters. I’m sure she does about a million and a half other things that we don’t see too but she is always so positive and such a pick-me-up for the mom’s who haven’t left St. Damien for months. It takes a really special person to stay strong not only for her own child and herself but also to give hope to other mom’s in the same difficulties.
On top of that, she has “adopted me” as her petit fi blan m’ (her daughter), as if she needs/wants more responsibility. “How’s work? Did you eat today? How’s your boyfriend (This is typically said with a coy and sneaky smile as she just checks to see if one has magically appeared)? How’s your family?” Genuine. She is straight up genuine. No matter how many people call her mom, she leaves no one behind, no one is neglected and everyone is loved.
Do you know where Mama Meta has been sleeping for seven months? On a yoga mat on the floor and the mat isn’t even a guarantee. I know there have even been several occasions where she offers her mat to a new mom in the room who doesn’t have one. But that isn’t even a concern of hers, a complaint or even a second thought.
This woman has given up everything, fought hard, walked miles to see doctors or buy medicine, worked her tail off and so on and so forth to see her little boy healthy again. Did I mention that her husband and other children are still home? Sure they visit, when the have a little extra money to make the trip, but it’s not a frequent thing. The pair is prepping for their trip to the DR to receive radiation therapy and I am so glad they are reaching the final stages of such a dreadful illness.
Her #1 priority: To see Meta play, laugh and grow up to be s healthy and strong boy young man.
All the mothers, and the few father’s too, in Salon Mango are a portrait of strength, determination, inspiration, hope and unconditional love. You all wouldn’t believe what these people go though to even get blood for a blood transfusion. Mama Meta is just one of the many stories but their stories ground you and make you believe miracles can happen.
Contributed by Avriel Burlot
NPH Haiti Communication Specialist