THE LITTLEST VICTIMS
(Ti Viktim Tou Piti Yo)
My breath catches as a little baby looks up at us from the floor. He seems all head and no body, staring passively at his visitors. Renald is 2 ½, but looks half that age. He doesn't talk or walk. He doesn't even have the strength to stand. His tiny little body is joined to a listless, laughless spirit which is also a sign of the malnutrition he suffers. But he doesn't recoil from a strange "blan" who picks him up stroking his arms and legs, caressing his face and head, and patting his back for a good hour.
When a kind-hearted health agent brought Renald and his twin, Raymond, to our attention, their little legs were swollen tight, a sign of their deteriorating condition. Unfortunately, our help didn't arrive in time to save Raymond. He died shortly after treatment started.
We stand on the porch talking of how to involve neighborhood mothers in helping a rather clueless young father raise his infant son. All the malnourished children we are currently treating are motherless, most mothers having died in childbirth. It is said that for every mother who dies a child also dies. This has often been my experience, though families struggle mightily to prevent it.
Four month old Souvni died recently despite all our efforts. My arms still know the feel of her featherweight body. But Madoche, a 2 year old orphan, and Renald still live. Madoche who is now standing, is a joy to watch as he shovels in the food we provide.
Why do the innocent suffer? Why do these conditions exist?
It seems to me that it is always the poor who bear the world's burden of greed for power and riches, most often in a high mortality rate. In Haiti, democracy is just a dream opposed by powerful forces here and abroad who have selfish uses for the poor.
Despite all, the Haitian poor struggle valiantly on, their way of the cross strewn with victims young and old, but mostly young.
For a passionate account of recent events in Haiti, including our own country's collusion in its suffering, read AN UNBROKEN AGONY: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President by Randall Robinson or Dr. Paul Farmer's classic, THE USES OF HAITI.
Sister Fidelis Rubbo
April 27, 2009