October 9, 2012
(Photo by John Carroll)
My name is Zima and I am two years old. As you can see, I don't feel well.
Full disclosure: I did not really write this entire letter to you. An adult helped me. But believe me, if I were a few years older, I would agree with most of it.
So here goes.
I live in Beleko which is a neighborhood in Cite Soleil. It is infamous for the number of gang related violence during the last six years.
My family is very poor as is everyone in Beleko. I live with my mother and three siblings.
My dad has been in prison for the last two years in the penitentiary down town in Port-au-Prince. I don't know why he is there and each time my mom tries to visit him, she is turned away at the prison door. She says it is a bad place.
I have heard my mom say that there are thousands of men like my dad there being held without charges. She has no money to get him a lawyer. The inmate's cells are so crowded the men sleep standing up. I worry about my dad. I hope he is still alive.
Please watch this video when you have time. It is short.
My mom took me to the pediatric clinic today in Soleil. I am just not doing well.
First of all I weigh twenty pounds and am two years old. I don't even want to eat at this point. And my mom doesn't have much to give me in the first place. My legs have swollen in the last several months because I don't have enough protein in my diet. Therefore, fluid seeps out of the blood vessels into the tissues of my legs. They hurt. The university people call me an "apathetic kwash". I don't know what that means and I don't really care.
I also have diarrhea all the time. I am passing mucous, blood, and my mom says I have white worms too. We don't have clean water to drink and many toddlers in Beleko are just like me. We are chronically sick and many of us die before we even go to school.
For some reason I have a fever and a cough and the doctor just told my mom I may have pneumonia.
I am going to be admitted to St. Catherine's Hospital in a few minutes. I knew I shouldn't have come here in the first place. Someone will need to watch my brothers and sisters at home because my mom has to be with me 24/7 at the hospital because the MSPP nurses can't do everything. At least they don't charge pediatric patients like me.
Well, gotta go.
Thanks for reading this. Please pray for me and my family and especially my dad.
John A. Carroll, MD