Video Message From Fr. Rick
Video Message From Fr. Rick
NPH Haiti 25th Anniversary, 2nd Anniversary Earthquake
"Choose love rather than hate,
a smile rather than a frown,
Choose to build rather than to destroy,
to persevere rather than to quit,
Choose to praise rather than to tear down,
to heal rather than to wound,
Choose to give more than to take,
to respond rather than to delay,
Choose to bless rather than to curse,
to pray rather than to despair."
This time last year, I wrote about our beloved chapel, St. Philomena, which had stood through the destruction and shock of 2010. She was cracked and weakened, and held up by struts, inside and out, which looked like crutches. A church on crutches—a fitting image in a country where so many people were left limping, or limbless, or worse.
Thanks to the presence of teams from Haiti, Italy, Germany and the USA to help at our cholera camp, I was able to sneak out of Haiti today for three days to visit my father. As I left, Wynn was drilling a catheter into the leg bone of a near dead child, as a last effort to help Giulia and Pietro give fluids to this small victim of cholera and malnutrition. Nebez walked to a corner of the room with head bowed, as it is very hard to watch all this suffering. Poverty is already a terrible reality, and cholera is a terrible disease. We are running out of corners to hide in.
Cholera and Riots
It is closer to midnight than not, and I just came back from our cholera tent hospital after delivering more IV needles that get drilled directly into the bone, and after trying to find more gasoline for the generator. The inter osseous IV catheters have saved the lives of the most dehydrated patients. The moon is nearly full, directly over head. You need to bend your head fully back to see its beauty. Full, like God's eye watching us. Full, like God's heart holding us.
Cholera in PaP
I worked all night at our cholera treatment area, and during the night I saw a comparison I never would have imagined. Stepping out of the tents for fresh air from time to time, I saw the pearly white crescent moon overhead, beautiful and calming. Inside the tents, also set against a deep darkness, the eyes of the most severe of the sick people have the same form. Eyes sunk deeply to that the whites of the eye stay below the upper eyelid, with the eye rolled upward toward the forehead. Two crescent moons. It is a scary sight to see the depth of the apathy and surrender, not an ounce of fight left. It is sadder still to see it in children.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
The cholera cases are double from one week ago, about 2300 last week to over 4600 as of yesterday.
We have seen a lot of the victims because we have gone out of our way to see try to help them, as I mentioned, by to go to Artibonite and helping there. We have made trips to about 7 places during this week- a number of times to St Marc, to Ester, to Dauphine. But one of the most desolate places we visited is Grand Saline. They are very poor and very friendly people, who seem to live at the end of the world. We could only go in by helicopter and out by boat. By boat I mean into the open sea at night in a small motored craft with no life preservers, no oars and no lights, starting off in the mouth of the filthy Artibonite river, which is full of the cholera. "Dear diary..."
The Trying Times of Cholera
The people of Haiti seem to be facing this newest challenge, Cholera, with their usual strength, and a full determination to plow ahead.
The Ministry of Health, and foreign organizations working in public health, are trying to contain the spread of Cholera by having people treated in centers in the Artibonite valley, as opposed to going to Port-au-Prince or other centers away from the Artibonite River, the source of contamination. There are also vigorous instructions on the radio as to the importance of thorough hand washing and proper food preparation.
As you probably know, Cholera is different from other illnesses that cause diarrhea because you can lose so much fluid within hours of the start of the illness, that you will go into shock and die. It also doesn't help that Cholera is very contagious.