mercoledì 23 novembre 2011

Little angels from Chaaria

Last Saturday I admitted Kiende Monica - a beautiful 9 year-old girl whose facial features vaguely indicated her Somalian origin. Seeing her reminded me of Stella. She was thin as a rail and one could easily count all her bones. Her mouth was covered with ulcers and whitish material which made feeding and drinking impossible. She was very dehydrated. Her mother told me she had diarrhea for 3 consecutive months and kept on vomiting anything she tried to swallow. Her skin resembled the one of the old people and was covered with dark spots. Monica was very weak, with eyes half-closed, and barely reacted to stimuli. The first clinical trials were ruthless: the HIV test was positive for both the patient and his mother. To tell them the news was, as always, extremely difficult. I would prefer to do 10 Cesareans than spend those interminable 30 minutes for the conversation with that despaired  woman. She told me that her husband died two years ago and she was alone since then. Before the death of the husband, their second child had passed away. She didn’t know what was the cause. . In the clinic where she had gone two times the doctors spoke only about malaria. Since then she was trying to take care of the only daughter left, though she was becoming increasingly fragile and often so ill that unable to go to school. The collapse started three months ago. Monica started to get  watery diarrhea, persistent and debilitating, and stopped walking because of the general weakness of the body.  The mother took her to many clinics and always received the same answer: amoeba. Eventually she decided to start the journey of hope to Chaaria, trusting that we would have done a miracle.  But it was too late for the child. I took the test for  white blood cells which were so low as to be close to zero. I then attempted lifesaving treatment: lots of fluids (all her little veins had collapsed and we had to resort to a blood vessel found by chance on the right temple), correction of blood glucose values​​; antiretroviral therapy for 'HIV. But Monica looked with eyes more and more closed; no more tears and the eyes were not even able to blink. I advised the mother to pay attention to the flies that rested on the conjunctiva of the girl who could not drive them away. The woman was petrified.  She continued to pray in a language I did not understand. Then, when the little girl had decided it was time to go to Heaven, her mother burst into tears and started rolling on the floor in front of the room of pediatrics. I tried to calm her down. I sat down next to her on the bed where her only daughter  still laid- now relaxed and seemed to smile. I tried to tell her that now her daughter would not have suffered more and that she would get help from Heaven, but the mother  looked at me violently and told me that I could not understand her pain. I asked her why she had said those tough words to me. And she, returning to cry in despair, shouted: "Because Monica have never entered into your belly!" ... For me, that phrase was a whack hard to swallow, but honestly speaking it is true that I cannot fully understand the mothers who lost a child, because for me they are just patients and not ‘the flesh from my flesh’. They are a part of me, but it was not me who had suffered to bring them to the world, who had spent sleepless nights when they were small and could not sleep, who had tried to plan their future ... It 's true that ‘a pain that goes through your belly’ is difficult to understand from the outside. I have to accept my limitations and at the same time commit more and more efforts to commiserate with the sufferings of others that I would slowly make my own. I realize that the choice to meet God in the last, the sick and the poor is one of the few certainties I have left. Either I start always there, in the dedication of a free daily service, or risk permanently losing the sense of God and human being. Either I start from there, with humility, accepting my limitations redeemed by the love that I try to give, or I am on the right track to lose faith. But I'll make it. The life that is given to us in the colours of those who are the losers, who are wrapped by the silence of the voiceless, the life which is embodied in the human and surpasses us in every moment, is our daily food. While I am still absorbed in these thoughts, all of the sudden Monica's mother tells me she wants to start the therapy for AIDS. This is really beautiful, because it means that she still wants to live and think about the future. While  assuring her that we are going to provide her with the medicines that would make her feel good for many years to come, she, with a wave of the hand, showed me another child, more or less in Monica’s age: she was sitting in the bed, smiling in a funny way, and clearly wanted us to understand that she would like to come close. I called her and told her to sit beside the lifeless little body of Monica. She cuddles me and continues to stare at me with a smile indicating affection. Kawira, 8 years old, was brought to Chaaria in a state of coma. We gave her quinine through veins, but she remained unconscious for several days. Then she started to improve until she fully recovered ... Unfortunately, cerebral malaria has left its mark, and made the girl  a poor mentally handicapped creature. When the parents found out about the condition of their daughter, they simply took flight... and now Kawira has been with us for over a month. No one comes to see her, so she walks around the hospital in search of hugs. Roberto fell in love with this girl and affectionately nicknamed her "little ghost", because of her light spreading all over the room and her sight, a little empty but always in need of a caress. Now I have both in front of me: Monica, loved by her lonely mother, did not manage to return from coma. And Kawira, who had returned from a coma, but now because she was marked by illness, was not loved anymore by her family. What a mystery of life: I have in front  of me a desperate mother who was unable to save his daughter, and next to her I have a child whose mother left because she didn’t  want daughter with a damaged brain. More and more confused, I decided to accompany Kawira to another room where Silvia will wash her. Then, I went to the office to prescribe the medicine for the mother of Monica who asked me to let her leave the hospital as soon as possible because she has to walk hours and hours and wants to be at home when it is still day. Before her leave, I set for her the date of the next visit and I try to ask another question: ‘Where are you going to bury your daughter?’ The response was just as I expected: ‘And where do you want me to bury her? I do not have even a piece of land, because after the death of my husband, his brothers divided our little plot of land and I was forced to return to my old mother. Bury her here, in the hospital, with other children.’ This is another drama in Africa.  The total absence of women's rights in Africa results in no chance for them to inherit.  After their husband dies, or in case of divorce, the woman is left totally bankrupt. Having these thoughts in my mind, I accompany the body of Monica to the morgue. Kawira is still following me. Yes, you both are like two angels; one already arrived in Heaven and the other here on earth is preparing for it. How lucky for me to meet you!
Brother Beppe Gaido

Nessun commento:

Chaaria è un sogno da realizzare giorno per giorno.

Un luogo in cui vorrei che tutti i poveri e gli ammalati venissero accolti e curati.

Vorrei poter fare di più per questa gente, che non ha nulla e soffre per malattie facilmente curabili, se solo ci fossero i mezzi.

Vorrei smetterla di dire “vai altrove, perché non possiamo curarti”.

Anche perché andare altrove, qui, vuol dire aggiungere altra fatica, altro sudore, altro dolore, per uomini, donne e bambini che hanno già camminato per giorni interi.

E poi, andare dove?

Gli ospedali pubblici hanno poche medicine, quelli privati sono troppo costosi.

Ecco perché penso, ostinatamente, che il nostro ospedale sia un segno di speranza per questa gente. Non ci sarà tutto, ma facciamo il possibile. Anzi, l’impossibile.

Quello che mi muove, che ci muove, è la carità verso l’altro, verso tutti. Nessuno escluso.

Gesù ci ha detto di essere presenti nel più piccolo e nel più diseredato.

Questo è quello che facciamo, ogni giorno.

Fratel Beppe Gaido

Guarda il video....