Friday, March 12, 2010

On the Road - Petite

It's been two months today since the devastating earthquake that changed so many lives. I have been here for six weeks.

I thought about giving an update on the construction of latrines, the provision of water, the community work, the child friendly spaces, the satellite clinics outside of the camp, the movie nights, the distribution of tarpaulins and mosquito nets…

Then Dr. Larry came to me while I was drinking lunch: a 7Up under the shade of a tree at midday.

He was carrying a 7-month-old baby girl.

Her legs and arms tiny, swollen stomach and big eyes staring at me with an innocent look.

A malnourished child whose mother stopped breastfeeding a month and a half ago.
It's not that she doesn’t want to feed the baby. It's that she's malnourished herself and her breasts ran dry.

We got into the car and drove off to that feeding center we have heard about on Delmas 31, just one street across the big artery that is Delmas.

We were told everybody knows this feeding center, being next to the Grace Hospital, a very visible structure in the street, out of whose premises an NGO is distributing, these days, food rations.

When we started seeing people walking towards us with bags of rice, we knew we only had to follow them backwards.

We stopped in front of a first gate, which pointed us further down the road to a second gate. There they told us to go to the gate across the street, where uninterested nurses told us the feeding center was not there, but outside and a few blocks away.

We got into the car again and started driving without knowing where to go, asking for info from every other person walking along the street.

I could only focus on fingers, and they were always pointing away, in another direction, in the opposite direction.

We eventually stopped in front of a gate where a nun gave us a box of pasta, rice and baby formula.

In all of this, the baby has been resting, peacefully, in my lap, playing with my finger, while I was calling her Petite.

I kept on telling her that everything is going to be fine.

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