Monday, January 16, 2006



At Grace Children’s Hospital a baby with orange hair peered at me through the iron slats of her crib. Her name is Rebekka and she is 16 months old but appears like she is more like 8 months. She is calm and her eyes move from me to her grandmother who is standing at her side. The rails of her crib are up.

An IV solution hangs in a lonely fashion from a steel IV pole at the end of her crib. The IV tubing is not connected to the baby. A four foot green oxygen tank stands at the head of the crib like an old soldier. No oxygen tubing is hooked up to the tank leading to the baby.

At the foot of the mattress is the Bible called ‘Bib la” in Haitian creole. Rebekka’s grandmother is praying over her. She stands with a blue t shirt on and a pink slip. She has black flip flops on her feet. Over her head is a washcloth that Haitians all seem to carry to wipe their brows. At her left foot is the black plastic garbage sack that is ubiquitous among Haiti’s poor that serve as their Gucci bags in their world.

One can see that grandmother is in a different world. Her eyes are closed and her arms extended in front of her with her palms pointed up. She is praying out loud but is not obnoxious with her demands from God. She sways back and forth as she prays for Rebekka’s life. Rebekka glances up at her at times with a look of respect and gratitude for her grandma’s efforts. At times, grandma pronates her forearms and her hands wave palm down over the baby in a gentle rhythmic fashion trying to erase the disease that is eating at her. Rebekka seems to understand…

Grandma is quite proud of Rebekka. The baby just hasn’t had enough to eat and has had diarrhea for 4 months. They live several hours out in the province and getting into Port-au-Prince is very difficult for many reasons.

She is happy that Rebekka has a chance now. She respects the IV solution even though Rebekka’s IV has infiltrated and knows the oxygen might help if it were hooked up. But what Grandma really trusts is her God. She tells me she is Protestant and prays with complete confidence in her private world of faith.

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