Sunday, December 11, 2005

Happiness in Haiti

A few years ago a Christian missionary brought a 24 year old Haitian lady to me. The lady's name is Heureuse. She was suffering from a leaky aortic valve for many years. Her home was Benet, a small village on Haiti's southern coast. Her father is dead and her mother would cry over her as she laid swollen with fluid and listeining to tapes made by her sister Evita. Evita's tapes encouraged Heureuse to stay alive and not let Haiti steal her away.

My exam of her heart revealed her valve to be severely incompetent keeping her in congestive heart failure and barely able to function. 6 months later we were able to get her visa and needed to get Heureuse on the plane for the States. Evita traveled all night 5 hours through the Haitian mountains in the dark to retrieve Heureuse from Benet and brought her to Port-au-Prince. Evita refused to let Heureuse die.

Her surgery went well in the States and she began to smile and wear jeans and look quite chic. She underwent some dental work and learned some English. We then ended her dream and took her back to Haiti.

During the last few years, she has been unable to find work. Evita went to the Dominican Republic and never returned. None of her family has ever heard from her again. Maybe she lives on a battey and is the slave of a buscanero. No one will ever know.

Heureuse lives in a slum in the capital and had a baby. Heureuse showed me a picture of the baby's young father who died shortly after vomiting blood. Heureuse's baby had her assortment of diseases of the poor including impetigo and malnurtrition. How Heureuse and her baby survive here is something that I cannot understand. Maybe Heureuse still hears Evita's voice...

Several months ago Heureuse found us again and said she was about to deliver another baby and had a fever. Her heart sounded leaky again and I decided not to get an echocardiogram. If she survived the pregancy, I would order another echo. She delivered naturally in the general hospital in Port-au-Prince and both she and the baby survived. I don't know how.

Medicines from Peoria have helped her but she needs surgery again. The Peoria hospital will probably refuse her redo surgery that will be identified by the echo we ordered today. Heureuse is not as important to the hosptial and will provide her with no encouragement that has kept her alive.

So Heureuse lives in a city where kidnappings, beheadings, carjackings, and rape are daily events. She has her two babies and Evita is gone. When Heureuse is gone, her two babies will be alone or with many other homeless Haitian street children.

Heureuse smiles a lot in spite of her life in the hell of Haiti. Heureuse means "happiness".

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