Today, I came in on a story that was just about to end, and end much too soon. The story is told, of all things, through the Twitter feed of an organization I just learned about called Real Hope For Haiti Rescue Center. It’s short, and it’s tragic:
@realhope4hait: Prayer request–9 year old fighting to live in the clinic today. Severe infection, malnourtition, blind, and neglected. In bad shape..
@realhopeforhaiti: Romial http://bit.ly/bS6Ejd ….June 2nd 10:56AM
From the website: “Romial is fighting to live today. He is laying in the room next to us. He is blind, malnourished, sick and neglected. He is in a lot of pain. He keeps asking for a ball and a toy. He has a large abcess by his rectum. It is being drained. Will you pray for him today.”
From the website: “He is on IV medications and IV fluids. Only God knows if he is going to live. We are doing all we can. He is 10 years old.”
@realhope4haiti: Romial is doing worse and apprears to be taking his last breaths this AM. We are doing everything we can. So frustrating.
@realhope4haiti: Romial is in the arms of Jesus….no more pain, no more suffering, no more neglect, only the perfect love and peace from our Father.
Real Hope For Haiti Rescue Center is located in what seems to be a rural area called Cazale. Simply put, they feed and care for children who are sick due to malnutrition and then return them to their familes once the kids are better and the families can care for them. What amazing, inspiring, essential work. There are up to 60 kids there at a time. Overall, Real Hope For Haiti is a bigger grassroots organization that also has a clinic, literacy programs, flood relief programs- there’s a video here. (Evangelical readers especially may like the video.)
The blog is filled with stunning “before and after’ photos with kids who have come through the center emaciated but leave smiling and healthy ( Some of the smiles on those kids- unbelievable!). But the end for Romial, connected to the word “neglect” makes is seems Romial wasnt one of the children who was brought their by loving but desperate family. It sounds like his story was different. I don’t know anything more than I’ve posted here. I just know he isn’t going to have an “after” picture.
What got me the most was this boy asking for a toy and a ball. I think of my nieces and nephews – their laughs, their smiles, how they can have so much fun with simple things; I think of the natural instinct of all kids to play, the natural and sweet bond kids form with their favorite toys. The thought of a little boy barely older than the big three Danesco/Jackson kids, being in some strange place, so sick, just wanting in such an innocent way — a ball…He had a right to that, didn’t he? Shouldnt he be running around on a soccer field, or reading a book, or playing with his friends?
I think of the word “neglect” again. How much of Romial’s circumstance was due to the fact those with means have neglected (and in worse cases, exploited) his country for so long? Would he have died if he were an American kid? Sure, there is, unfortunately, a chance: we have hunger in the US, stupidly. We get horrible frontpage stories about abused children slipping through the cracks and losing their lives. But it isnt as prevelant and it isnt as extreme. We have food banks, food stamps, free school lunches – not centers where parents drop off bone-thin, malnourished kids who need their lives saved. More to the point, we have such a higher median standard of living… you know this. I’m just saying it. I mean, a kid here just by the numbers has a much better shot. So I wonder, by those same numbers, if he were here instead of there, would Romial be playing with his toys right now? Those are really sad odds to consider.
Another thought: as much as I hate everything about the poverty I see on TV and online in, say, Port-Au-Prince: the slums, the shacks, the sheer numbers of street kids- all the stuff Sheepfold School deals with, for example, all the need – what may anger me most of all is the image of children starving, literally- with distended bellies and all. Why? Because Haiti is not some drought-ridden, isolated African village far from resources and help. IT IS LESS THAN TWO HOURS AWAY FROM FLORIDA BY PLANE.
But here’s the thing, of course- to offer your drop in the bucket, to act, not just to emote, to respond, not just rant.
I’d suggest the Real Hope For Haiti blog and Twitter feed to anyone. The pictures are astounding (Im not posting them here because the site asks us not to repost without permission) ; the anecdotes shared make you feel like youre on the ground, and there’s a down-t0-earth tone that makes the whole thing really accessible and easy to read. They take donations- including through paypal and a church in Indiana. For people who prefer the grassroots, person-to-person giving, this is up your alley. There’s even an email on the blog where you can contact them directly.
I was going to write one more entry for Haiti Month before I move onto the next month’s theme. But I think the story of this little boy, Romial, is a fitting way to end. He could have been anything. And while there have been thousands of children who died just like him , we know there are thousands more who can live to play. There is hope in Haiti. And any one of us can be part of it.
As always, drop as you see fit. And thanks for reading.