Saturday, January 16, 2010

UPDATE ON “THE LITTLE ONES OF HAITI"


Readers will remember that I published a blog about an art exhibit showing pictures of Haitian children painted by Barbara Hughes who teaches art and spirituality at the Sewanee Theological Seminary. Barbara had accompanied the Sisters of St. Mary on a mission trip to deliver a water purification system and to work in the Faith-Hope-Love Infant Rescue orphanage in Port au-Prince. Vickie and I had helped raise money for this mission and received funds from many Louisiana friends, as well as from the Rt. Rev. Bruce MacPherson, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana. A few days ago, when the earthquake struck, we talked with the Sisters about sending the money dedicated to a scheduled mission trip to Haiti to the Episcopal Relief and Development organization who can send immediate assistance to Haiti. The Sisters were happy to send the donations on to help provide food, water, and medical care for the earthquake victims.

We were disturbed because we hadn’t received communications from the orphanage, and last night we were deeply relieved to hear that the orphanage, staff and children housed in it are o.k. A long e-mail detailing the experience was sent by Dorothy Pearce, the director of the orphanage. Its heading was: “We survived the earthquake.” Dorothy had taken Poutchino, the child whose portrait by Barbara Hughes appears above, to the Sacred Heart Hospital near the strongest area of the quake. She was trapped there for awhile, so she began to help medical personnel throughout the night. Poutchino stayed in the automobile that had transported him to the hospital. When the Sisters of St. Mary made their last mission trip, Poutchino was watched over by Sister Elizabeth who encouraged and evoked his laughter before the Sisters departed for home. Poutchino has hydrocephalus and was discharged from the hospital to the orphanage after having a shunt inserted. When he went to the hospital, he had poor muscle tone, could not sit up alone or turn over. He was severely anemic. Now, he can feed himself, walk with a walker, stand alone, and although he has occasionally said words, he cannot speak. Barbara Hughes wrote that he “has a sweetness about him and a very beautiful face that was hard to do justice to in paint.”

Dorothy described the scene where she and Poutchino were trapped in a moving passage of the e-mail: “Generators lit the parking lot,” she reported. “It seemed like a scene from hell with all the moans and screams and cries for help, and the ground was covered with injured people and blood. People panicked at every aftershock. Burns were the worst injuries but thankfully few…A rumor started that a tsunami was coming and we had to leave…

“Poutchino definitely had meningitis but there was no more infection by the time the CSF was tested. Considering the chaos at the hospital, we brought him home with us. His abdominal pain is completely gone. He can eat again. I give him l gram of ceftriaxone every 12 hours, hoping to keep the meningitis from returning. Infection could be hiding in his shunt. An operation to remove the shunt would be difficult to get now…

“Phones are starting to work again but not yet normally. Helicopters are flying overhead all the time, and small planes. The U.S. military is running the airport now. Civilian flights are all canceled. UN police are in charge of security. Not much is seen of Haitian police. I don’t know why. I expect, hope, that relief supplies will come in soon. Our biggest concerns at the moment are cooking fuel and water…

“We all are fighting shock, trying not to be overwhelmed with grief and horror. I am trying to plan without being overwhelmed. Prayers and praises really work to keep spirit up. Remembering what God has already done in protecting and providing for us reassures me that he will continue to provide for our needs…

“I have heard that maybe 100,000 people died. I can believe it, based on what I have seen…We need news from outside but please keep e-mails strictly to news. We have to use our precious supplies of gasoline to get online. Since we have had no places to cash checks I have to work with Christian Light Foundation to find a way to get money to us. Please pray for all of us in Haiti and for all those sending and bringing help.”

Dorothy listed an address for donations to Christian Light Foundation, Inc., P. O. Box 23881, Jacksonville FL 32241-3881 with memo: For D. Pearce, Haiti.
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