Monday, May 02, 2005

Day Two Where Do I Start

I began the day yesterday sleep deprived, disoriented and clueless! The rain stopped briefly and the bugs were surprisingly not so thick. What the day would hold seemed exciting initially but quickly it was squelched by reality. Jenny is the Mexican physician that has donated some of her time to help her brother; he is the superintendent here at the orphanage. We met at 8:45 am in front of the office. The first item on the agenda was setting up a clinic. There were three options:
1)a room attached to the orphanage that was just outside the toilet rooms, it smelled like a barn, more like fresh manure, as they have the children use little fake toilets and just hose them out after breakfast right onto the floor. It was a small room about the size of a large walk in closet.
2)a house that is relatively clean but only 2 rooms and someone lives there already.
3) The old clinic (circa 1942)abandoned since about 1998. Sounds promising right? Well we arrived at the doorstep first needing to cross the yard, which contained a large obstacle called a bus! Not just any bus but a rusted machine with flat tires that resembled a bus and was home to their dental office. It came complete with a dentist chair and multiple rusted instruments, a washbasin and moldy partial dentures. I could see into the front room of the clinic through the walls. You see there were giant holes in the walls made from rot and termites. As we entered the smell was stale and it was disgusting. There was shit everywhere! Medicine drapes tools, catheters, braces just left in rotten boxes strewn all over from previous missions. There was evidence of a once thriving clinic complete with old exam tables and instruments used in the 50's and 60's. The Doctor had a personal library that was extensive but extinct and as I thumbed through some of the pages it was like stepping back in time. May add that I also learned the definition of bookworm. Most of the books had intricate holes in them through and through which contained occasional live species and multiple eggs. Termites had infested the entire building and all of its possessions. There were literally two-foot mounds in multiple areas where the bugs were nesting. The rafters completely infested and there was a giant mosquito mound in the gynelogic room it looked like a 50 lb bag of sand grit dumped in pile.
Jenny and I agreed that although the condition was sub optimal at least it felt like a clinic. Jenny left to go to town and I stood there for several minutes overwhelmed. This would not be the first time, I know. I kept hearing my mom's story of when we moved into the farmhouse. It too was dilapidated. Her and Aunt Phyllis stood thinking the same thoughts. "where do I start?” my mom said and aunt Phyllis replied, "right here" and she handed her a rag. They soon made pigsty into a beautiful home. I am not hoping for a beautiful home but I am hoping for a clean and organized environment. So I picked up a broom and began in the corner. I cleaned for three hours alone and was disgusted on a regular basis by my findings. At 12:30 Jenny came back and we both got little boost from knowing we were not alone. We went and rallied some of the kids and pretty soon the adults came and by 4:00 we had cleaned out so much junk and crap you could actually see the floor.
We finished the throwing away part today and now we are trying to get exterminating chemicals (diesel fuel) to kill the termites and fumigate the joint. I will have to keep you posted.
On a lighter note (believe me there is none)I met the children for the first time yesterday. From a distance they were so cute and tiny. There are about forty. They have little uniforms made of Mickey Mouse material. As I got closer though I began to notice lots of things. These children although smiling were plagued with various swellings and rashes and crooked bones. There hair matted with lice and boils. They instantly clang to me, a new face with loving arms. They were trusting. I fought back the tears so as not to make them feel ashamed.
That was yesterday.
I spent the evening trying to come up with remedies for lice and scabies that would be affordable and obtainable. Vinegar and soap may be all I can do for now. The story is much more heart rendering but I haven't time nor do you for the rest.
Today Jenny and I made a list of all we need to treat the children and I spent a long time on email trying to contact MAP international for more aide.
We were summoned by a young child to come to her home. Her mother was ill with some lung problem and she had a history of TB but was "treated" by the Honduran Health Dept. We arrived in the small stone hut which had a kitchen and three rooms all together separated by dividers of wood thatching. A woman lay there huffing and puffing not able to say much due to her extreme shortness of breath. She handed us some scribble and a few pills. She had in fact been treated for TB but not surprisingly she was under treated. They only gave her 2 medicines for 3 months instead of 4 medicines for 10 weeks and 6 mos more of double therapy.
Now she most certainly has resistant TB. She is only maybe 50 pounds and I can not help her. I gave her some inhalers and we place an IV through which we gave her vitamins and nutrition, but only one days worth. She had 3 children 3yrs old, 5ys and 12yrs. Her husband works in the cane fields. She will die in not more than 2-3 months.
We saw many others this morning each story more troubling, a child with asthma barely breathing, a baby with malnutrition and diarrhea, a handsome young boy the family's pride and hopeful future bread winner with a bad lymphoma growing out his arm pit. I can't even bring myself to talk about the sexual abuse. All this and I've only been here three days.
It's cathartic for me to write. If you have no interest just delete my email, it's okay.



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