Dr.s Ali and Don (and possible future physician Sina) at work among the poor in Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
When I looked across the room into the putrid, humid heat of their temporary hospital I thought, “This has become a healing room.” Not just for the body. But for the spirit.
The people who come to the doctors on this day may only see a doctor once a year… during a free clinic like this. So they are willing to wait for hours to get in the door. And if it looks like the door may close, they are willing to push their way into the door to make sure they are on the right side of the closing door. So Sunny, a businessman from California (right), is tasked with managing the flow through the door… a daunting task… one man stemming a river of a hundred people.
They come for themselves and for their children. So many children.
There are good stories to tell. But there are stories that are hard to understand. Below is Clifford. He is two years old. I saw he and his mother outside waiting in the burning sun. I escorted them out of line and into the building. Little Clifford, I thought he was gasping for thirst. His mouth was opening and closing like an automaton. His eyes staring straight ahead like he was empty of thought. Desperate. What I failed to know was Clifford is blind and deaf. From birth. He was a frightening sight.
His mother brought him for hope, maybe. But on this earth there is no hope for Clifford. The nurse, Grace, looked at Clifford. Another nurse, Kathleen, came. His legs and arms were tiny and stiff like old tree limbs. The nurses told the mother, “I’m sorry but there is nothing the doctor can do.” Essentially a death sentence.
I just watched through my lens and gasped. I do not know this world of tragedy. And yet something in my spirit said not to feel that way. Something in my spirit said to reach out a hand and pray for Clifford. But not for his healing. To pray that we all see the truth of our own lives because of Clifford. It may not be true or even make sense but as I prayed for Clifford I felt he will soon be in a different place and praying for me. He will be a much greater saint when he reaches his destination and I pray I will be worthy to be called his friend one day…
Child after child the doctors see. Don later said they were trying to get an accurate count on the number of patients they saw. “One patient fills out the registration, but the whole family comes,” he said. So it is difficult to know how many.
I know the doctors and nurses exhausted themselves serving. The people just keep coming. In the heat. One after another.
I asked Ali what kind of hours he works back in California. He said he works seven days a week. I was amazed at their dedication. All of them. They are essentially the wealthy class from the wealthiest nation in history and here they were on their own time sweating and risking the catching of disease to serve the neediest of the needy in another country. Exhausting work of love. A true healing room…