My first visit to the hospital I accompanied SSG Theirry Alexandre (who speaks Haitian Creole) & SGT Dave McClain. Nothing can prepare you for how these Doctors, Nurses and Patients live each day, a lot of people, very little space. On this night I met one of the most energetic kids I have even had the pleasure of meeting, Pablo Picasso (that's right, just like the artist). Pablo was injured during the earthquake, he had major damage to his lower leg, damage that required a skin graph of his upper leg to repair it. SSG Alexandre visits the people in the hospital just about every night, and was practically attacked by Pablo when entering the Pediatrics area. It only took a few words of introduction and a smile or two before Pablo was using me as his personal playground. For a father of two beautiful kids, who I miss very much, that was all I needed to brighten my day. Pablo is a big fan of basketball and through the pictures of Louisville games taken on my cell phone, I was able to share that love of basketball with him. I also had a few minutes to meet his mother and introduce him to my two boys and my beautiful wife. Even with the language barrier, with a wink he was able to tell me I had a pretty wife (can't argue there Pablo). We enjoyed a few games with my camera and piggy back rides around the Peds Ward. I will never forget my time or the smile of Pablo Picasso.
All through the Field Hospital there are amazing stories. Some are stories of luck, some are stories of tragedy. One of the most touching stories is that of a little two year old boy found living in a dumpster days after the earthquake. The boy had cuts and bruises and was very dehydrated when he arrived at the hospital, but since then has really started to gain his strength. That is evident by his really short fused temper, at home that would make me a little irritated as a dad, but here it makes a smile crawl across my face. They boys parents are no were to be found, but there is good news in this situation, our little friend is awaiting adoption by a Canadian couple.
The stories do not end on the Kid's side of the hospital, the adult side is also jammed packed with patients, some who are still recovering from injuries sustained during the earthquake, others have been able to obtain health care than was non existent before the earthquake. A lot of Haitians that received deep cuts or broken bones, had to for days without care after the earthquake. This due to travel time to the hospital from areas outside of Port-Au-Prince, because of this infection set in on many injuries and caused an increased number of amputations. These patients will not be forgotten, University Of Miami is looking into building a rehab facility right next door to its current structures.
While walking through the Adult wing of the hospital, I couldn't help notice a woman praying over her husband who was sleeping. I asked SSG Alexandre what she was praying for, he said “She is asking God for forgiveness, and for her husband to get better so he could work to provide for his family”. I still pray for that woman and her family every night before I go to bed.
The two nights I spent in the field hospital visiting patients has meant a lot to me. The Haitians, once we explained to them we were only there to say hello and show them how much we care, they really opened up with the challenging stories of their life. I ask as a member of the media, that people look past the headlines of the national stories, and really try to understand a nation of people who have not been given a very fair shake in life by the people chosen to lead them.