Mumps are making the rounds through Port-au-Prince. Several of Sherrie's school kids and orphanage kids have it and a number of my ravine kids have had it. I may not be very familiar with mumps, but the Haitians sure are and they promptly wrap the poor little child's face in cloths and some kind of thick leaves that supposedly bring the swelling down. Dear little Maranatha, who mirrors her mother's cheerful "Hello's" and smiles, had it last week and never lost her big smile throughout. Sendhie, my assistant here at Angel Missions, had it 2 weeks ago. And this week Wisnal, my community health worker at Sherrie's, has it.
Immediately after my busiest stop on my ravine rounds, I walk past a tent where the woman on the right lives. She doesn't have any children in my medical program anymore (they have grown up and are in school) but she always calls out to me regardless. It's a mini-miracle each time; most adults I encounter only engage me in conversation if they want something from me but this woman wants nothing more than to say "Hi" and ask me about my day. Last week, I was in the ravine when I got the call that my grandmother had passed away. She was the first person I told and she was as kind and sympathetic as an old friend. I don't even know her name!
Vesly is 12 years old and has an eternal case of tinea capitis (head fungus). This sounds horrible but I'm glad she's been sick because I wouldn't have gotten to know her otherwise. She's got that undefeatable spirit that I've seen over and over in young Haitian women.
And then there's Betty's family. Her youngest is Samania, the little girl who has been terrified of me ever since she turned 1. Edmirson is the middle child, who was also afraid of me from about age 1 until age 2. And her oldest is Sandina, who I rarely see because she goes to school in the mornings. Since the quake, Betty, her boyfriend, and the kids have been living in a tarp-house. I've never met the boyfriend but I know he has a temper - one day in the ravine, I saw that the door to their tent was ripped off and Betty told me that he did it when he was angry with her. Scary!
The good news is that he is working and he does provide for them. A month ago, Betty called to me from the door of a real house! They'd pulled together enough money to rent a cute little 2 room apartment and when I walk through now, Betty proudly invites me in. The house must have some magical qualities because Samania overcame her fear of me as soon as they moved in. She will actually stay in the same room as me now and high five me and wave good-bye without any screaming or hiding.
Finally we come to Bergine. I first treated Bergine in the fall for his mysterious skin condition and overall deterioration. In the following months, I had him seen by several American doctors and a Haitian doctor. No one knew what to do for him. His family moved him out to the countryside after Christmas and I would hear news about him secondhand. Last week,when I stopped at his house, his sister told me he'd died over the weekend. We still do not know why.