Remembering a little girl in the pink dress
By Dione Occenad
SAVANT PLATE, Haiti—After our first exciting day of clinic, we were ready to get back on the road! We traveled about 45 minutes to a village called Savant Plate. We arrived at a small school where many people were anxiously waiting and getting registered by local health workers. We divided into our separate stations for the day, which included triage, adults, pediatrics, OB/GYN, and vision. Unlike our first day, adults and pediatrics were set up beneath the shade of a mango tree in true rural fashion.
The kids were so precious! They would watch everyone in wonderment and as soon as you waved or smiled, they would turn to each other and giggle. It was incredibly refreshing to connect with the kids in such simplicity. All it took was making a funny face or tickling them and they would open up to you.
Amidst all the smiling children, there were a few that were noticeably sick. In particular, we saw a girl about nine years old in a pink striped dress whose body was clearly wasting away. She stood before us merely skin and bones, dull eyes and hair loss marked by the few strands of hair gathered in her ponytail. From observation of her appearance, the doctors suspected the young girl was suffering either from severe malnutrition or HIV/AIDS, the latter seeming more likely. We began clinic assuming that she would be seen amongst the pediatric patients. Unfortunately, as the day progressed we realized that she hadn’t passed through yet. We searched for her but couldn’t find her.
As we packed up to leave we felt joy for the work that we had done, but remaining was unease and sorrow for the little girl in the pink dress that slipped away unknowingly. We will always wonder about her story and how we could have helped her. Nevertheless we find solace in knowing that although we come for such a short time, Project Medishare has such a presence here in the central plateau and continues to care for the people in these communities. We hope that she will be seen by a local health worker during a home visit, a local clinic, or taken to the hospital by her family. Regardless, we’ll never forget the lesson learned and she will forever makes us better caregivers.