HAITI: KEVINSON’S STORY (PART 3)
It was my last day in Haiti and that morning my mind was flooded with the problems of the village: the diseases, infections, cancers, malnourishment and the sounds of their pain even worse than the images.
In just a few hours I would be back in the US enjoying my Starbucks each morning and retreat to my air-conditioned home while the men, women and children of the village wake up every morning in dirt and disease. How did I get so lucky to be born into a land of opportunity while the villagers were born into what felt like a hell on Earth?
Before heading to the airport I wanted to check up on baby Kevinson. There was a sense of relief when I thought of him. After all we had just saved a little baby from starving to death. We knew the year supply of baby formula for Kevinson wasn’t the end-all-solution but it bought us time and that’s what Kevinson was running out of.
After a 15 minute bumpy ride off the main road we reached the village. I was excited to get one more look at Kevinson. As I approached Kevinson’s hut I see a group of villagers around the hut and a few of the Hotes Volunteers. I can see Enik, Kevinson’s mom flailing one of her arms and holding Kevinson in the other – she looked upset. Matt, a Hotes foundation volunteer emerged out of the crowd toward me “Enik is claiming, the entire year supply of Baby Formula was stolen overnight!” “We’re taking Kevinson to a clinic a few miles away right now!”
I was stunned. How did this happen? Did it really get stolen? Did she sell it? Was it someone from this village who stole it? Should I cancel my flight? What’s the right thing to do?
Matt raced back into the crowd and rallied members of our security team to escort Enik and Kevinson into a vehicle and drive them to the clinic. I knew Matt and the security team would treat Kevinson as their own and make sure that Kevinson got the medical help that he needed. One thing I’ve learned from the 60+ relief trips around the world is that nothing beats a good hard working team. Two hours later, I boarded my plane.
When I landed reports of Kevinson’s situation starting coming in.
Email update from Matt (7:45 am): The clinic close by was unable to treat Kevinson. We decided to take him to a hospital that has a malnourishment ward in Port-au-Prince (PAP). This hospital is known as being the go-to hospital for treating malnourishment in Haiti.
Email Update from Matt (2:33 pm): The hospital in PAP didn’t have a bed available to accommodate Kevinson but said a spot may open up the following day.
Email update from Matt (6:50 am): We returned at 6am and tried for the 2nd time getting Kevinson a bed but still none were available. Why is it so difficult to get a malnourished baby into a hospital in Port-au-Prince when this issue is so prevalent in Haiti? Will keep trying.
Email Update from Matt (11:25 am): Good news! We got a bed for Kevinson in a government run hospital in PAP!
A huge sense of relief swept through me knowing that Kevinson was finally in a hospital.
Email update from Matt (1:04 pm): Kevinson has been diagnosed with multiple infections and severe malnutrition. But the hospital isn’t equipped to conduct the basic labs needed to identify the extent of malnourishment or type of infection. We have to get those done somewhere else. We were told he would need a baby formula called F100 (used to treat malnourished babies). But the hospital doesn’t have any. We are sending out some guys to locate the formula. By the way, there are a lot of malnourished babies that look as bad or worse than Kevinson at the hospital - all without this F100 formula.
Email update from Matt (2:54 pm): Does anyone know if this F100 stuff actually exists? We’ve stopped at 5 different locations and they are all telling us “We don’t have the F100, nobody ever has it.” Why doesn’t anyone have it if there is such huge need?
Email update from Matt (1:47 pm): After driving all over Port-au-Prince for nearly 24 hours we were finally able to find F100 formula at a hospital 15 km north of PAP. Baby Kevinson will soon have a full belly!
I began to wonder what would happen if Enik did not have our team advocating for her? This poor woman from a mud hut village with a sick baby was powerless. She had no money for transportation, hospital fees, or for the medicines needed to treat baby Kevinson. To compound the issue, Enik can’t read. She would have had a very difficult time getting the prescriptions the clinics and hospital wrote up fulfilled. Lucky for her and for baby Kevinson, our team had been there.
A month had passed since Kevinson was admitted to the general hospital. We received an unsettling report from one our workers in the village. Despite being in a hospital, his condition had not improved at all, in fact his condition worsened.
Update from Matt after speaking with a contact at National Hospital: The hospital ran out of F100 formula. Kevinson cannot hold any of the formula down. After he is fed he throws it all back up. His infections have not cleared up. I’m beginning to think that the general hospital is just a waiting room to die.
My mind was racing. I was furious. Kevinson lay struggling to live in a hospital bed for a month and just an hour and a half from Miami! How is this happening so close to the United States, and how is this possible in a hospital located in a Haiti’s largest city? Why is it so difficult to find the F100 Formula? These were just a few of the questions reeling thru my mind.
It couldn’t have been a worse time to go back to Haiti. I had been traveling, and extremely busy with work and with so much on my mind, not getting much sleep. I was exhausted, but put in perspective; I knew it was nothing near the suffering baby Kevinson was experiencing. I couldn’t help but think I was only going to advocate for one child while there are thousands suffering and dying in Haiti. Was it my purpose to go and help just one child? I prayed about what I should do and felt like God was telling me I had to go. I didn’t know what I could really do, to help Kevinson’s situation. But I knew I couldn’t just sit here knowing that Kevinson was suffering and could possibly die without someone advocating for him. Matt and his team had already left Haiti and there was no one left in country I could count on to make sure Kevinson got the help he desperately needed. Although I was not certain there was anything I could do to help I went with the prompting I was hearing inside to go.
After receiving support from the Hotes foundation, I immediately booked a flight back to Haiti. This would be the first trip in my 12 years with the Hotes Foundation that I would be going to a third world country without my team.