Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I witnessed the most beautiful thing today. Such a small thing really, but after a hard few days it gave me hope and something to cling to.

See, yesterday I tried to resuscitate a baby, and it didn't work. I found the baby taking one breath a minute, and it's heart rate was about half of what it should be. The baby had oxygen tubing in the incubator, but no oxygen was coming out. It was my first day in the post natal ward, and I was just about in panic mode when my teacher Mary came in. She got a doctor to come in, and just as he was about to turn away the baby took one deep shuddering breath. We rushed her to the operating room, which is the only place in the whole hospital that has pure oxygen. The baby was intubated,we breathed for her by pumping the ventilator, but it didn't work, the baby would not breathe on it's own. The baby had gone too much of the night without oxygen, and was now brain dead. Tiny heart still beating, we gave her back to the grandmother along with the news, as the other family burst into desperate, heart rendering wailing. Minutes later the heart stilled, and I fought to hold back tears. I thought I had cried all the tears one could possibly cry, but a few more defiantly spilled out.

That night I tossed and turned, counting into the thousands of rotations my noisy fan makes. I think it helped the family to see that in the end, we did everything we could to bring that baby back. Yet, in Canada I am sure this death wouldn't have happened. The baby would have been closely monitored in a special neonatal ward, the oxygen would be working, with emergency supplies at hand instead of one having to rush all over the hospital to find them. I miss happy endings. I miss being able to intervene and have 90%of cases turn out OK, instead of the other way around.

The next day, physically and emotionally exhausted I took my first sick day and slept the morning away. I thought I was getting so strong, but I just couldn't face another day with another innocent death. That evening it was my turn to cook supper for the group, so Jessica W and I went to the grocery store. While in there a man approached us and asked if we wanted a taxi. Wary now of being ripped off I asked him how much-our rent is high, taxi prices are high, vendor food is all higher than locals pay. Sometimes I get mad, other times I try to comfort myself that the money goes to people who are less fortunate. It's still leaves a bad taste in the mouth to feel taken advantage of though.

However, this doesn't happen ALL the time, and this Taxi driver proved it. He gave us a great rate. As we made our way out of the grocery store, laden with bags of food, a man approached and indicated that he was selling palm trees. The last thing I need is a palm tree, so I shook my head no and got into the taxi. I glanced over and saw the same man approach my driver, who had a bag of bread crumbs next to him. Curious (was he making stuffing that night? Why did he have those-a snack maybe?), I saw him offer them to the man, who cupped his hands together as the taxi driver piled the bread crumbs high. I saw that man beam a smile and turn to another gaunt-looking man and a boy, and share with them. Bread crumbs are probably the cheapest thing you could buy, and my taxi driver did not look near as well off (comparatively)as the other drivers we have used. His stereo did not work, he had no cell phone that I could call again. He could only afford to buy the cheapest thing, but that he happily shared with others.

It put a smile on my face.

See, I want to be like Jesus. I want to serve others, to love others, even when it's not easy and when it costs me. In my reflexive way of trying to defend myself from trying not to be taken advantage of, I missed out on an opportunity. My eyes were opened to how much the people here help each other, the caring that goes on here between people who have little to begin with. What would that look like if we did more of that in Canada? Single moms who need a babysitter for a night, children who have no money to play sports, elderly who can't clean as well as they used to. I am a student, I don't have much money, but there ARE things I can do, both here and in Canada.

So what have I learned here? I learned about breadcrumbs. A picture that I can smile about and clutch close to my heart.

~Hannah Viejou

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Hannah.
    Sounds like some powerful experiences... I cannot even imagine the strength you have gained through your experiences there.
    Thanks for sharing this.