Coming back from my second trip to Haiti was again a very emotional experience. Bonnie, Mike and everyone at the Orphanage were warm and welcoming as always. It felt like going back to see family and I miss them all so much. Baby Luke was the newest addition to the family and like the close family that we are we all took turns nursing him back to health, 2 am feeds and all. We got lots of hugs from everyone, a great start to the next 4 days. The first afternoon I was able to see my little friend Erika, her smile was such a great gift. In her village we distributed pillow dresses to all the girls and they all looked so beautiful. I was heartbroken to find Erika drinking grey water where just a few meters up stream there were two boys bathing and urinating in the water. Another little boy was collecting that same water in containers to bring back to his house. To think that only 1/4 of the Haitian population has access to clean and safe water, this is unacceptable! During Clinic day #1 I had a special visitor, his name was Jean, he was 15 months old. I met Jean in January when Dr. Dilip diagnosed him with Kwashiorkor (protein-energy malnutrition). Mom had stopped breastfeeding him when he was only 4 months old and she had no consistent access to food for her or Jean. When we saw him in January he weighed only 4 kg (his ideal body weight should have been around 9.5 kg), he couldn’t hold his head up, sit up, crawl, could not hold his arm out to point, and had just a sad, blank stare, he was not meeting any of the milestones for a heathy 1 yr old. We provided Jean with medical formula, explained to Mom how to prepare it, how to slowly start re-feeding Jean and hope that she was understanding what we were telling her. Erson was my translator that day and he did a fantastic job. Erson knew how worried I was about little Jean and he continued to check on him for me. When I arrived back in March, Erson had arranged for Jean to come see us at the Orphanage. I was so happy to see him and amazed that in 6 weeks he had gained 3.5 kg, was holding his head up on his own, cried when his grandmother handed him to me, he was pointing at her and was following her with his eyes, he was going to town pinching the fat in the back of my arm, I could not believe the change in 6 weeks. His Mom came in later that day with a newborn baby and I got a chance to sit with her, as I did with many women, and explained to her the importance of breasfeeding. We all counseled, praised, and encouraged moms to continue breastfeeding and introduce solids at 6 months not 3 months as we learned was customary. As a Nutritionist it saddens me to witness the lack of food and nutrition but I find some comfort with every multivitamin/mineral supplement that is provided to every child and adult that visits our clinics and the Vitamin A provided to every infant and child 6 months – 5 yrs.
New to me this trip was going to the Creche Giving Hope co-founded by Heather Elyse. It was truly a wonderful and inspiring experience, one of my favorite moments on this trip. PFH’s amazing team of doctors, nurses, and volunteers treated over 1,000 patients again and I cannot help to think that PHF might have just saved the hearing of future musicians, improved the health and gave a chance to future teachers, doctors, nurses, activists, lawyers, scientists, farmers and maybe even a future President of Haiti that will bring about change. This trip made my Haiti experience come full circle. I could see the impact that we make and the potential that we have. We are people of change and I am so honored to be part of the PFH family. To Bonnie, Mike, Heather, and all my team mates: you are all amazing and inspiring, I have been blessed to have crossed paths with you. Thank you for all that you do and I’ll see you soon (in Haiti) 🙂