It has been a long week for us here. We have had 4 children die this week. Two of them died within minutes of each other. That was the first time that I have ever had to deal with that. Nadia came in last Wednesday afternoon. She was 18 months old and weighed 11 pounds. She was severely malnourished and very sick. I have decided not to share her story. It is to much to bear. But she is not suffering any longer. The other three were babies, Guiviolda (the baby with the bad legs), Juline and Joseline (I already wrote about her). It has been a hard week for us and the staff. I had someone asked about what we do when a child dies. I thought I would explain that today.
When the child dies it is immediately removed from the RC and taken to the emergency care room in the clinic. The bed that the child died in is stripped down. The bed then is washed with soap and bleach. It is then set out in the sun for the day.
The child is put on a table in the emergency care room. The ladies bring over a pan with water in it. I then remove the IV or feeding tube (if they have one in). I give the child a bath with soap and water from head to toe. If there hair needs is be braided or combed I do that for them. The sad thing is most do not have much hair. When they are so very malnourished and sick most of there hair falls out it becomes so thin and dry that we end of having to cut it. So after the child has the bath, we clean their ears and nose and put powered on them. Then a diaper and a white dress or robe.
Then I take pictures of the child in the burial clothes and usually one when they are in the casket. (I will explain why in a minute). The child is then wrapped up and covered with a pink or blue blanket.
After I am done with that I take the papers we have on file for the child. This includes a paper with the times and dates that meds were given, the chart from the clinic, a picture taken the day they arrived and a paper filled on with information about the child and their family. I take this paper and fill out a form to make the death certificate.
Yves or Frank (employees) take the paper to make the death certificate to the office in town. They leave the paper with them. Then they walk about 1/2 mile to the man that makes the caskets. Before they leave they measure the body with a cord for the length for the casket. They give this cord to the man to get the proper size. He then tells us at what time to the casket will be done. We do not have a morgue here in Cazale. So the body must be buried with in 24 hours. It they die in the morning they are buried in the afternoon. If it is late afternoon or evening then they are buried the next morning. They come back and find someone to go and dig the hole in the grave yard. When the casket is ready the man that dug the hole goes and picks up the casket. He brings it to the clinic. They come get Lori or me. We put the body in and take a picture if needed. He then takes the body to be buried. The RC has its own corner in local cemetery.
The death certificate and the pictures that are taken of the child and then printed off or copied. I keep one copy and one copy goes on file to be given to the parents when they come. If there is a telephone number provided we call them as soon as the child dies and let them know. If they live close we send for them. But most of the time they live many hours away. We also ask each parent when the child is admitted if we can bury the child if they die. If, for example, they say no I cannot bury them then I see where they are from and see if it is possible to send word to them quickly. Another option is to see if they have a family member that lives closer to us. Most of the time we can figure out something with those two options to ease their hearts. In general the parents are fine for us to bury them if they die. Some cannot even affords those cost and bring them to us for that purpose. If for some reason we cannot find a family member or get ahold of the parents to let them know that the child has died we call the local judge. He comes or send someone from the office to take a statement from me along with the ladies in the RC. He takes this information, along with the death certificate and pictures and makes a paper from their office. This paper is given to the family. The pictures, death certificate, and paper from the judge are not just for the family but for us as well. We keep all these records on hand.
The cost to dig the hole is $3.75 for a child newborn maybe up to 9 or 10. Most of our kids fall into this range. If it is a older child or adult it can cost around $60-$70 to have a hole dug. The cost of a casket (a little white box) runs from $8.75 to $20.00. In the area that we live in Haiti, most do not bury the small children in a casket. So these are special made for us. Once a child is around 5 or so they would then have a casket made. But unfortunately most that die do so before they reach the age of five.
There is a break coming up for me in the near future. Can you believe it? These people have offered to come and do my job for a week. They are crazy! We are doing a missionary house switch for a week. How fun is that. The boys, Enoch and I are all getting really excited about it. A break, a time to refresh, a time to have fun, a time to not worry, a time to spend together. We are so thankful to be able to get away to a place here in Haiti where we can all stay together and not be separated. God is good! I cannot tell you how much this means to us. We love this family so much and thank God for bringing them into our lives several years ago.
Psalm 95:1-3 (NIV)
1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.