West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Allie’s story

I hadn’t even planned to be in Haiti that week. About 2 weeks before the trip, my friend Jill emailed me and said she needed a nurse to join her. I had every reason not to go…too much to get done in such a short amount of time, finances, work, etc, yet in my heart, I knew I wanted to be there. I prayed about it, everything fell into place, and 2 weeks later I was in Port-au-Prince. How do you decide what’s important information to share with others about life in Haiti? Do I start with the near riot experience we had in the streets the first night, the Christmas celebration consisting of a juggling Haitian clown and balloons with “Celebrate 2008” written on them, the 95-98 degree weather, our breakfast one morning of spaghetti and sauce with mangoes and coffee, or the blind child reading in brail as a teacher signs to the deaf children? There are no words. How does one pick which information to share? I suppose, we each speak about the part that touched our hearts the most, and for me, that part is Margarette.
Early one morning, a baby girl in a light blue dress with white lace was left at our facility lying on a chair. From that moment on, she became a member of St. Vincent’s family. She wasn’t a stranger; she was our sister, our daughter, our child, a piece of us. As best as we could guess, Maggie is roughly 6 months old. She suffers from a condition called hydrocephalus, where there is so much fluid in her head that the weight of it all is too much for her neck to handle.  At this point, Maggie also has impetigo and scabies, 2 very infectious skin diseases, but most importantly, she is BEAUTIFUL. And I am drawn to her. As I am holding her for the first time, this beautiful, innocent child, untainted by the ways of the world and the sinfulness of man, I realize that I need her just as much as she needs me. Holding her, the world around me is silent, and we are the only 2 that exist, until I stand up to take her downstairs to see the doctor, and I am aware of my surroundings, and hear a song playing softly in the background that almost brings me to tears. The song playing is Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah”. And this might not seem like a big deal to most, but I had been in this room many times before, and the range of music played for the children went from Celine Dion and Pat Benatar to Jingle Bells and Hall & Oats. This song was not a coincidence. There was something angelic, something divine about all of it. And right there, in that moment, holding the most innocent and beautiful child, hearing Hallelujah being sung, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. I had known for 2 weeks that I was supposed to be in Haiti, but God knew long before that.
Allie Russos, RN
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