Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy News - Haitian Children Evacuated to Shriners Hospital

As I remember back to my childhood, which was blessedly free from major trauma, I can still vividly recall many experiences both good and bad. I try to imagine what a child from Haiti must be feeling right now. Many have become separated from their parents who are missing or dead, and so many others were critically injured. A friend of mine who lives in Springfield, Massachusetts, told me the following story.

Recently eight Haitian children were evacuated to Massachusetts for treatment.

Carolyn Y. Johnson, of the Boston Globe reported:

‘In the midst of swirling snow, a private jet carrying eight Haitian children with life-threatening infections and injuries suffered in last month's earthquake landed at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut at dusk yesterday. (Feb 10th)

The eight children, aged about 2 to 15, were wrapped in blankets, and given stuffed animals before six ambulances transported them to Boston and Springfield hospitals.

Without the kind of medical care they will have access to here, the children would have died, said Dr. Peter Kelly of Wilbraham, who met the plane at the airport and described the children, many of whom were clad in casts, as "stoic kids."

Kelly is president of the board of CRUDEM, a nonprofit that runs Hopital Sacre Coeur, the Milot, Haiti, hospital where they were treated before being transported to the United States with the help of a private jet provided by an anonymous donor.’

Five of the children who have serious orthopedic injuries and infections are being cared for at Shriners Hospital in Springfield, two with burns were brought to Shriners Hospital in Boston, and the most severely injured girl was admitted to Baystate's pediatric intensive care unit. The five children at Springfield Shriners were operated on the following day.

Springfield is home to the Shriners Hospital, which has been providing free medical care to children since 1926. Many years of dedicated service.

Can you imagine being a child, experiencing an earthquake, being severely injured, taking your first journey on a plane, seeing snow for the first time in your life, being transported many miles in an ambulance and then being settled in at a hospital where you do not know a single person and no-one speaks your native language?

Here is the ‘happy news’ part of this story. Upon their arrival the children were greeted by the soothing voices of a group of students who could speak their language.

Over the next few weeks, local American International College students are taking turns at Shriners Hospital and Baystate Medical Center to translate for the children, who were all severely injured in the January 12 earthquake.

"They got off the plane, and we just comforted them," said Cherline Arnoux, a junior from Boston who is studying criminal justice and business.

Fedeline Osyln, of Boston, a first-year graduate student studying clinical psychology, said she moved from Haiti with her father when she was 9. Her mother and some siblings are still in the country but were not hurt in the earthquake.

She said she remembered how overwhelming it was when she first came to the United States, and hoped she could make it easier for the children.

"I want to give something back to my country, and this was a way I could help," Oslyn said.

Twelve students have volunteered to help and pledge to see the children through this crisis in their lives.

I pray that the children will recover not only from their physical injuries but also the psychological trauma that they are experiencing. They are being comforted with the professional care from the medical staff at the hospital and from the sincere love that is being given to them by twelve young Haitian college students.

The children will have an incredible story to tell one day, when they become adults. I am guessing that some of those students may still be around for them even then. Life has a way of bringing people into our lives in the most unexpected ways.


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