Sunday, March 7, 2010

Children's Ward: Week 4

Our old man has fat cheeks! His Grandmother shows us pictures of her three daughters. Two of them have died in the last two years of HIV. She tells me that Old Man’s mom died two weeks after he was born. She wants me to see her daughter as she was when she was well. I sit beside her and admire the pictures and we hold on to each other. There are no words.

I give old man a toque knitted by a Grandmother in Kelowna. He looks adorable and has stopped looking quite so worried.

Our small finger pointer is better, but we find out she is HIV positive. We are all saddened, but she looks better and we gift her a smashing red velvet dress with red net flounces and she leaves the ward in style after a photo op with our students. We have all fallen in love with her.

We have two new cases of severe malnutrition...a five year old who looks 2 and a small girl who has a huge swollen abdomen, looks like she is 4, but is 10. She has a parasite that has damaged her liver permanently, and she is HIV positive. As Sam says, climbing a mountain is hard, but for her, it will be like climbing a mountain in a wheel chair. She loves the students and dispenses hugs all round.

Then there is Houdini...2 years old, in stripped sleeper with green pants over top. Also sports lime green flip flops which he “borrowed” from his neighbour. Any chance he gets he heads for the hills, chortling with glee as Mom and I give chase. He is lucky; he has an abscess which is so curable. He and I have the same dance style and occasional we entertain with a few chosen steps. Always leave them begging for more is our motto!

More good news. My boyfriend, Mr. Grumpy pants is not HIV positive. Sadly, he has forsaken me for the younger women, and dances with Lindsay C. and Jamie. His smiles are like gold.

We have a huge group of kids who are here to see a visiting orthopaedic surgeon. They have club feet, broken limbs, deformities of limbs and all hope for corrective surgery.

We also have several broken bones, bone infections, an eye injury, 2 kids who need circumcision, and 2 more burns.

We laugh, we cry and sometimes we pray. It is a hard place to grow up.
We are sad to be leaving...we finally are beginning to feel useful and we have made friends here. Each time in Africa I leave a piece of my heart. And these beautiful children...just like anywhere, their parents want the best and they just want to be kids.

Hug the next kid you see, and when I get home, I’ll teach you a few dance steps from Houdini and me,

I am a Dancing fool,

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