It started out like any other task. I was sent to give our clinic nurse, Madame Te, three packs of gauze, and ask her if it was enough. She said "plu" - meaning "more" and I wondered what it was for. I came back with three more packs, in my limited Kreyol I understood that she didn't have anything for cleaning. I went and told Carla who went to discuss with her in Kreyol what she needed. I was sent to get my camera, Carla gave me a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and told me a little boy was at the clinic and he had been badly burned from falling into a fire. I walked quickly, camera and medical supplies in hand, having no idea what I would see. Falling into a fire…I kept thinking how fire is a necessary part of life here. Gas stoves are scarce, and electric stoves are unheard of. To feed your family, to get clean water - you must have fire. Falling into a fire is not shocking here - it's not necessarily careless. It's a little boy, being a little boy and going one or two steps further than he should when you turn your back for just one second.
As I approached the clinic I saw the little boy with his mother and father, not jumping for joy but still quietly content standing with his head in his mothers lap. The night before the family went to a different clinic where they were told they couldn't be helped and their little boy would die. Without the proper care the wound could have been infected and easily led to death. Coming to the HAFF clinic was all they knew to do. We had explained to his mother and father that we were going to take pictures - so our supporters could see the kind of services being offered at the clinic - and now we can hopefully see the stages the wound goes through. So, I took photos of the wound and braced myself for whatever was ahead.
I followed everyone inside where the nurse and his parents placed him on the exam table on his hands and knees. The nurse began to clean the wound, which covered most of his back. The crying began and this precious little one wailed out in pain. The nurse was gentle and tender and his parents were loving. I held back tears hearing his screams and watching the distress on his innocent little face. The nurse was done cleaning, but then she took a pair of scissors and gently peeled off a few small pieces of skin. His mother had tears streaming down her face as I fought the urge to leave the room and throw-up, cry - or both. Instead, I put my camera down and rubbed his mothers back, silently crying "God help". God help this little boy and his parents. God help this family that couldn't drive to an American ER to have a staff carefully watch over them until the burn was healed. God help this mother and father as they tenderly apply and reapply Silvadine burn cream cream for the next several days. God. Help.
The nurse worked gently to apply a thick layer of cream, another nurse fanned the little one, his father wiped the tears from his face and I prayed with every fiber of my being for his relief. When the family walked outside to wait for their medicine the little boy stayed with mom and dad went inside - he kept crying, "Papa, papa, papa!!" His mother said "L'ap vini, l'ap vini" - "He is coming, he is coming." My heart cried the same thing - Papa, come soon. We need you. We need you when innocent little boys fall into a fire and their parents have to walk to find care. We need you when hydrogen peroxide is hard to find and this big wound on this little boy needs to be clean. We need YOU to cleanse us Father. Cleanse us from the inside out so we can better serve you while we wait - while we eagerly wait for you to come.
The family collected their things, a loving papa held his son and slipped his sandals on. They opened the umbrella used to cover his back from the heat of the Caribbean sun and walked off as I said I would pray for them…and pray I have. Prayed, cried, agonized - and I have been thankful that they did find their way to the HAFF clinic. Thankful that we had enough gauze to give Madame Te, thankful Carla had the hydrogen peroxide we needed and I am thankful that God let me see suffering and his provision and his healing all in an hours time.
|safe in the arms of his papa|