When you live in a developing country, you adapt to a certain way of living.
You learn to condition yourself to become exceptionally flexible and your tolerance for ambiguity improves by leaps and bounds, because nine times out of ten, nothing is ever going to happen as planned.
You get used to dodging goats and pigs on your daily commute and hearing roosters crow at ungodly hours of the night.
Appreciation of a simpler way of life begins to birth as you discover that you can now laugh about things that perhaps once upon a time, would have made you cringe.
Conserving water and power become normal. Visitors who pop in just to say hi, despite anything you may currently be occupied with, become endearing.
But then, there are those harsh realizations that adaption also includes the brutal realities of life in the third world.
The deaths of children due to simple and curable causes such as high fevers, or diarrhea. Lack of medicinal provisions, care and sanitation, which increase the prevalence of preventable disease.
As you discover this particular society's acceptance of their haunting misfortune, you realize that this will never be something you watch idly and embrace as normal - it will never be something you apathetically accept.
There are days when living is this world is miserable, heartbreaking and cruel.
And then there are days that remind you why you voluntarily chose a life of inconvenience.
Last Thursday was one of those days.
About a month ago, Brittany, Erika, Bekert (our Haitian translator) and Meg (our summer intern) ventured up to a village tucked away in the crest of the mountains, known as Bel-Air. The steep and uneven terrain of unpaved roads laced with large rocks, provides for much isolation from the outside world.
As we reached the village, we were immediately welcomed by the local community members. Our main objective was to explore this small village, make connections and discover what the area’s greatest needs were.
Shortly after arriving, Brittany asked the man who had been guiding the team through the village, if there was anyone in need of immediate medical attention. Within minutes they were being escorted up a steep hill to a small house, where a young man lay bedridden. His mother pleasantly greeted us and began to explain how her son, Wilson, only 26-years-old had grown so ill and weak he had been unable to even stand for eight months.
Brittany spoke with Wilson for a while to try and determine what it was he could have contracted. His body so frail, his appearance had reduced to mere skin and bones. His voice so hoarse from a constant cough, it was a challenge to hear him speak. From the looks of his symptoms it was obvious he had one of two illnesses, either tuberculosis, or HIV.
As we traveled back down the mountain to Belle-Anse, we were determined to find a way to help Wilson. He was far too weak to travel by motorcycle, and very few people in the region have access to a vehicle sturdy enough to make it upon rural mountain roads. The answer was simple. Wilson could not make it to a clinic, so the clinic would have to be brought to him.
For the next several weeks we prayed that God would provide the people and resources needed to give Wilson the treatment his frail body was in such desperate need of.
Last week, those prayers were answered.
Brittany came into contact with a Haitian nurse named Magdalla, who happened to be extremely well versed in the testing of viruses and disease. As a partnership was established between Reimagine Haiti and Magdalla, she received her first assignment and along with the team, would travel back to Bel-Air to bring the hope Wilson had long since given up on.
This time, upon arrival, Wilson’s mother was not the same cordial and cheery lady as she was the first time we visited. It was clear that she acknowledged the severity of her sons’ condition; it was if she accepted his fate and had come to terms with the reality of his ensuing death. As twe arrived, she swiftly ushered Magdalla, Brittany and myself into the room where he lay. Her haste was a sign that maybe she held small glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe her son would live.
His condition had worsened.
His weak and frail body, lay almost lifeless under an old dirty, sheet. Immediately, Magdalla took control of the situation and began to administer the tests. She performed with such care and ease, and showed Wilson the utmost of respect and compassion; it was obvious that she was born to minister with the gift of medicine.
My job as usual, was to document what was taking place, to later have photographic representation of the story being told. Never before have I needed to wear a surgical mask while shooting, or have seen a young man so close to death. It took everything in me to not gasp in horror as the sheet was drawn, reveling his ghastly skeletal figure. Yet, despite the looming cloud of despair, I could feel the light of hope we carried in our hearts piercing through the darkness.
After twenty minutes or so of questions and tests, I had the honor and privilege of praying over Wilson and as he was offered something no one had been able to thus far – a chance of survival. Magdalla explained to Wilson that he had tested negative for HIV and most likely had a severe case of tuberculosis. That being the case, he would immediately be prescribed medication and receive the opportunity to survive, recover and eventually regain his strength.
A tear rolled down his cheek and he mustered all of the strength he had to express his gratitude.
“Thank you for not forgetting me,” he whispered.
Wilson has received his medications and we wait anxiously to hear the news of his recovery. Please stand with us in agreement in prayer for his full recovery and restoration back to health.
Sometimes it is when we are standing at the very doorstep of death, when hope swoops in and gives us a second chance at life.