- Posted December 1, 2010 by
Cite Soleil, Haiti
This iReport is part of an assignment:
survival and livelihood in Cite Soleil
She came in, barefoot. Small, calloused feet that traversed through sewage, rubbish, and filthy, standing water to make their way to our clinic door. The sides of her face were streaked with tears. "She vomited in school today. It happened so quick. We knew you were here, we've seen your blue tents from the road. We hoped you were open. Why is this happening to our children?" her mother asked, confused and slightly panicked. She settled down after we were able to start an IV on her daugher.
She came in time. Her tears began to dry, and she was getting the fluids she needed.
We are open. These are the first snapshots of the people coming into our Samaritan's Purse clinic in Cite Soleil. I relish the opportunity to capture these first stories, because I fear there will be too many, too soon, to listen to them all. And perhaps I harbor a bigger fear- will people still want to hear them? I hope they will, for they tell of the courage of the human spirit in a way that is not typically celebrated, or encountered.
Word is trickling out that we are here. Our staff is ready. This is our reality, for the next undetermined amount of weeks. Welcoming, treating. Walking alongside families as they wait the hours out until their loved one recovers. Providing solace in a makeshift clinic, this is our job. Our beds, once clean and sparkling blue, are now becoming occupied.
Footprints line the seamed floors, IV bags are hung on the nails above. Charts scribble the story of the people who are now spending their days, and nights, here.
Cite Soleil is a place where not many people desire to work. It's a land of castaways, of telltale dangers. We hear much caution over working in this place, of engaging with the people. But we have not seen this here.
We see the harsh drama of life that plays out here. Being forced to choose one thing that is just as bad as the other. Survival and livelihood. They are always at conflict here, a dueling feud that marks the moments that make up a life lived in a dirty, forgotten slum. But we have not forgotten.
A man comes in, doubled over. He knows he is sick, and he knows what he needs. He comes to get an IV. After an hour, it is obvious he is torn. “I need to leave. I know I need to get this care. I know I have cholera. But I have to go lock up my house. I am caring for a piece of property and if I don’t get there- if I lay here one more hour- I will lose everything.” Our doctor urges him to stay. “I cannot. It’s all I have.” So he leaves. We don’t know if he will return. No one should have to make that decision. But in Haiti, you do. We will be here for him if he makes it back.
Another elderly woman comes in, very dehydrated. A tattered silk orange bandanna is around her head. She can't walk and is carried back on a stretcher. Her skin is thin and wrinkled, perpetually dirty and stained. It tears easily. She is with an old friend, equally as weathered, who sits by her side. "My friend has no family. I am taking care of her. Do you have a job for me? I need work. Then I can help her more, and me too." In the same breath-- asking for healing-- asking for livelihood. The need is great here.
Samaritan’s Purse has helped to employ over 300 people in Cite Soleil through our new cholera treatment center. When people are caring for their own, it threads a different kind of healing, of investment into a place. We desire to foster this kind of peace here as we treat each patient, and tell of their stories.