Monday, May 28, 2007

What Will Become of Mauricio?

By Jennifer Carroll
Port-au-Prince, Haiti

When Mauricio’s parents brought him into the room, the first things I noticed were his big, brown eyes and his beautiful smile. Looking at this 6 month-old baby boy, you would never guess he has a heart problem. However, Mauricio has a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. If Mauricio had been born in the United States, his heart would have been repaired within a few weeks of his birth, allowing him to lead a healthy, normal life. However, Mauricio was not born in the United States. Mauricio was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Haiti lacks the technology and resources to fix Mauricio’s heart. Left untreated, this beautiful baby boy will probably not survive past his 20th birthday.

Haitian Hearts is looking for a hospital in the United States that is willing to save this baby’s life. Mauricio’s parents only want what is best for their sixth child, just as American parents want what is best for their own children. Looking into Mauricio’s eyes, I pray that a hospital will help him. Mauricio deserves a chance.

As she carried Mauricio out of the room, the last thing his mother asked was, “How long will my baby live without surgery?"

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Dear Bishop Jenky and Sister Judith Ann,

Mauricio is a six month old Haitian baby with Tetrology of Fallot. I examined him two days ago in Port-au-Prince. He was born with four abnormalities of his heart which make it difficult for him to pump blood to his lungs. Most children in the developing world do not reach age 20 years with this congenital problem.

Please contact as many medical centers that you can to help save his life. He needs surgery which can be done at a good pediatric children's hospital that performs cardiac surgery.

Haitian Hearts will bring him to the United States and back to Haiti when his recovery is complete. His Haitian parents will be very grateful.



Women with AIDS in Cite Soleil

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cite Soleil's Mural

There is a mural painted on a wall as you turn right off of Route National 1 into Cite Soleil. It is a picture of a Haitian woman with a tear running down her cheek as she holds a baby that is melded on the side of her sad face. The baby is looking the opposite direction and has an emaciated look. Both faces are incorporated into a white bird and the flag of Haiti is on the mother's scarf.

On the left side of the picture is the ever present picture of a gun with a red line through it.

The mural says so much and is so true. Mothers and babies of Soleil are beat up with violence and injustice. Their suffering is still unbearable. And most of the world doesn't know.

During the last three months there has been much news out of Soleil. MINUSTAH brags to the world that they have flushed out gang leaders and arrested hundreds of gang soldiers. Soleil’s situation must be better if you believe what you read.

Even though tanks still cruise Soleil's narrow streets, the UN soldiers are on foot patrolling Soleil. Several months ago they wouldn’t descend from their tanks and now I see soldiers back in the corridors of the slum. So things must be better...

Also, MINUSTAH does not seem to be firing on innocent groups of people from their tanks or helicopters and filling Soleil’s one pathetic hospital, Saint Catherine, with complex gunshot victims.

Will this absurd violence start again? No one knows.

A resident of Soleil told me today that “things are delicate” but there has been some decrease in the stress and violence on the streets, even though her home was robbed last week. Another person told me that younger ambitious gang members will take over and “thievery is on the rise”.

However, it is hard for me to see how wonderful things are in Soleil.

The clinic I work in the back part of Soleil is filled with sick, moribund, and dying babies. Two Haitian doctors and I do what we can, but when a baby starts to swirl the drain from sepsis, dehydration, or starvation, there is no place to triage the baby for real quality care. Saint Catherine’s is full, understaffed, filthy, and horrible. However, I have to admit that I would send my sick patients there if I could.

Soleil’s people deserve so much more.

I think that not all is black and white in Soleil. The ground is always shifting. The ultra rights fight the ultra lefts about what should be done.

The chimere are horrible. MINUSTAH is horrible. The gran mange are horrible. The poor people in Soleil are horrible.

The verbal and written attacks by different folks are malicious and seem counterproductive.

What is malicious is poverty.

It seems that no one compromises as the Haitian women sit on wooden planks and wait for ten hours with their sick kids and then receive very suboptimal medical care from me in the stench of Soleil.

My stomach churns with anger against everybody. No one is here. But everyone seems to have the answer for Soleil.

I don’t think the poor in Soleil ask for much. They would like what you have: jobs, education, food, water, basic medical care, security, and justice. They really don’t ask for much during the course of the day. And that even makes me feel worse…

The last baby I saw today was severely dehydrated, not crying, and very sick. I told the mother he was “grave” and referred the baby to a pediatric hospital on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. I don’t think she will make it there with him.

As she pondered her one option, tears came down her face, like the lady on the mural.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Haitians Allegedly Attacked at Sea

Haitian survivors say they were left for dead

Survivors of a capsizing that killed at least 61 Haitian migrants said Thursday that crewmen aboard a Turks and Caicos patrol boat rammed them, towed them into deeper water and abandoned them after their vessel overturned.

''They just left us out there,'' said Dona Daniel, 23, one of a half-dozen survivors who were interviewed by The Associated Press immediately after being repatriated to Haiti from the nearby British territory. The other Haitians corroborated Daniel's account of the tragedy in the pre-dawn hours of last Friday.

They said their sailboat, loaded with an estimated 160 people, was minutes away from the shore of Providenciales, one of the Turks and Caicos Islands, when the patrol boat rammed them.

''When they hit us the first time, water rushed into the boat and everybody screamed,'' Daniel said, adding that the patrol boat crew ordered the migrants to lower their sails, threw them a line and began towing them into deeper water. The boat then capsized.

Lovderson Nacon, 19, said many of the migrants didn't know how to swim and were screaming ''God help me!'' in the darkness.

Migrants interviewed by AP said people who desperately tried to pull themselves aboard the Turks and Caicos patrol boat were beaten back with wooden batons.
Nacon said some migrants were run over by the patrol boat after they were flung into the shark-infested waters as their boat capsized.

He said he was in the water for more than 15 minutes before a smaller Turks and Caicos patrol boat came out to pull survivors from the water. Other migrants said they were in the water for more than 40 minutes as they waited for the rescue boat to make a return trip.

''They heard us screaming so much, they finally came and helped us,'' Nacon said. ``The people who knew how to swim lived. The people who didn't drowned.''

The Turks and Caicos government has said it will not comment on the capsizing until two investigations are completed. Britain's Foreign Office also declined to comment pending the investigations. One probe is being conducted by the local government, and three government experts from Britain are carrying out an independent investigation.

After being flown back to Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second-largest city, the migrants, wearing maroon T-shirts and athletic pants, were driven on a school bus to a gymnasium where about 100 relatives, many weeping, greeted them.

The relatives called out their loved ones' names, not sure if they had survived the worst disaster to hit Haitian migrants in years.

At United Nations headquarters in New York, spokeswoman Michele Montas earlier Thursday described the capsizing as ''a tragedy'' and said ''it could have been avoided.'' However Montas, a Haitian, said the U.N. had no further comment and that the issue was between the Turks and Caicos Islands and Haiti.

Jeanne Bernard Pierre, director-general of Haiti's National Migration Office, said Tuesday that the Haitian government would consider the ramming of a migrant boat to be a ''criminal'' act.

© 2007 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Haitians Don't Throw Fastballs

Since the beginning of this year, hundreds of Haitians have left Haiti in rickety boats. No one knows how many have drowned or have been eaten by sharks.

In April, 704 Haitian migrants were stopped by the Coast Guard and hundreds have been returned to Port-au-Prince.

Unlike their Cuban neighbors, Haitians don't usually vote Republican and Haitian fastballs are not near as accurate as Cuban baseball players throw.

The U.S. does not want Haitians here.

Addressing 1,200 mourners in an emotional and politically charged service in south Florida, the Rev. Reginald Jean-Mary eulogized Lifaite Lully, 24, who drowned trying to reach the U.S. in a boat carrying 102 Haitian refugees:

"We have come to mourn the death of hope. This young man search of security and freedom and meaning in his life."

Friday, May 04, 2007

Bishop Jenky's Five Years

The Peoria Journal Star recently published an article on Bishop Daniel Jenky’s first five years as Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. Bishop Jenky declined to be interviewed for the article and would not allow other Diocesan officials to be interviewed. Fr. Mike Bliss, OSF chaplain, was picked by the Diocese to be quoted regarding the Bishop’s first five years.

Bishop Jenky is spiritual head of almost 200,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Peoria.

In his first five years the Journal listed Bishop Jenky's number one accomplishment was leading a successful capital campaign. 37 million dollars was raised by the Diocese. The majority of these funds are going to Catholic school scholarships and other educational efforts.

The Journal also stated that he has spearheaded plans for a new diocesan center near downtown Peoria. Bishop Jenky also refurbished the Cathedral and a photo shows the Bishop in the Chancery showing "Victorian steps, curving French Renaissance stairways and historic pieces".

Unfortunately, in 2003, Bishop Jenky gave into OSF, as OSF withdrew all support for Haitian children dying of heart disease. Haitian Hearts patients, that were treated at OSF in the past, have not been able to return to OSF, and some have died. Bishop Jenky could have helped find other medical centers to care for sick Haitian kids, but he did not. Based on my conversation with him, I think he is afraid of the power and wealth at OSF. It would be interesting to know how much OSF contributed to the Diocesan capital campaign.

I am sure Bishop Jenky has accomplished good things in his first five years in Peoria. However, advocating and supporting Haitian kids dying of heart disease is not one of them.