There are so many ways an infant or child's life can go, especially in developing countries where the risks are higher in so many varied ways. I've been hearing about so many of Sarah's experiences with her clients, their babies/children, and other people in and around Olive Tree Projects. Here are four little girls' stories - I'll start with the sad news so I can end on a happy note.
1. One of OTP's clients was staying overnight at the clinic for a few days last week because she was under observation due to a little bleeding. She was about 22 weeks pregnant, so the midwives wanted to make sure they prevented any premature labor and kept her healthy. After staying at the clinic for a while, she seemed to be fine and was told she could go home and stay on bed-rest for a few days more. Late one night, she inexplicably went into labor and called Sarah - turns out she was dilated to 8 cm, so Sarah took her as fast as she could to the hospital; the clinic isn't set up to handle births that are that early (although the hospital here really isn't either). Needless to say, the baby didn't make it. I went with Sarah, Craig, and Danaelle to bury it the next morning... turns out there's a tiny spot on Sarah's friend's land where they have a mini graveyard. That's "mini" in two senses of the word... a tiny area, and for little infants who weren't able to make it. We buried it, sang a little song, and went on our way; there would be more of a funeral later, when the would-be mother was out of the hospital. I later asked Sarah how many times she's had to do that, and she proceeded to list off and describe each one without hesitation. Every single one has clearly made a lasting impression on her.
2. Last weekend, we got the unhappy news that one of the children at a nearby orphanage drowned in the ocean. She was only 6. The adults had taken a group of kids to the beach, and one of the young boys was swimming around in the water. He started to struggle in the waves, and this little sweet, innocent, little 6-year-old saw him - her only thought was to run out and try to help him. Soon after, when the adults saw the boy struggling out in the ocean, they rushed out and helped him to land... but no one saw the little girl. She might have already been drowning by the time the adults were on their way out. The orphanage has been taking it really hard, especially the little girl's close friend who was playing with her and was the last to see her before she died. Unfortunately, the story gets worse... The adults spent many hours swimming around and searching for the little girl, but never found her body. Finally, they had to just tell the proper authorities (who aren't reliable here anyway) and go home. Two days later, they got a call that the body was found, so they go to the shore (now about 5 km away from where it happened). The Haitians who found her had lassoed her wrist but were demanding about 3,500 gourdes (I think), which is almost $90 US. After shouting back and forth, they finally just had to pay it and get going. The body and face were beyond recognition.
Sarah has helped reunite a few women with their newborns with a special system she's developed since coming here. Occasionally, one of OTP's clients will give birth (or even have a C section) but then say they don't want it, can't take it, or even flat-out deny that the baby is theirs. Or sometimes, the mother is clearly not taking good enough care of herself to be able to take care of a baby, and OTP and/or social services will tell her as much. (Check out the Olive Tree Projects blog for those stories, which I mentioned a few posts back.) Sarah will agree to care for the baby for 3 months, and the mother will have that much time to get on her feet, get healthy, find a home, start a business, or start solving whatever the problem was. Almost without fail, those mothers who said they didn't want the baby, or who pretended it wasn't theirs, will come back and say they REALLY want their little boy or girl. The truth is, they just knew they'd be better off in someone else's hands... but as soon as the mother sees herself as able to care for them, she admits that she loves the babe. Persuading her to visit and breastfeed the baby as much as possible during those 3 months seems to really help, too.
3. Last winter, Sarah had Alfaida, one of these unfortunate babies who was fortunate enough to have Sarah and the rest of OTP looking out for her (and for her mom!). Alfaida went back to her mom after the three months, and is doing great! Sarah and Danaelle fell so deep in love with her (she's SO sweet, SO good, and SO adorable/beautiful) that they get to take her on Sundays and hang out with her all day. I met this lovely little creature recently, and boy, is she CUTE! Happily ever after!
4. Remember baby Mara, featured in a few previous posts? Well, she's the most recent baby that Sarah has been taking care of. Her mom is HIV-positive, and wasn't taking great care of herself when Mara was born... but now, she's doing great! Apparently, wanting your baby (and wanting it to be healthy/happy) is great motivation. :) It's unclear whether or not Mara has HIV, too, because we're still waiting on test results... but we'll find out soon. Anyway, the good news is, Mara went home on Monday this week!! YAY! We'll have to watch them more closely if she ends up testing positive for HIV, but for now, everything is looking good! Yet another mother-baby pair successfully reunited. They might never have been, if not for Sarah and all the cool things she does!!