I think I saw the worst thing I have ever seen in my life.
On Tuesday, I went with a few visitors up to Tiburon to deliver food to our primary school. There had been word that a sixteen year old former Espwa child had been burned at his home in Tiburon. We investigated the situation.
Ezekiel had been sleeping on the ground while is family was cooking dinner. His father was taking the large pot of boiled beans off the charcoal burner when he tripped. The hot beans spilled. They landed on Ezekiel in one of the worst places imaginable- right below his belt.
By the time we made it to Ezekiel, it had been over a week since the burn. His thigh, lower stomach, and privates had third degree burns. His family tried a home remedy of herbal cream to help with the pain, but still, a layer of charred black skin had grown back. In some areas, there were pussy infections. Ezekiel was wearing his mother's long skirt because he could not stand the feeling of anything on the charred skin.
Ezekiel needed a hospital. We loaded him into the car, along with his mother, and took him on the four hour trek down the bumpy, rainy mountain to the hospital in Les Cayes. I don't know how he did it. My hinny was hurtin' by the end of the trip, I can't imagine if I had to sit and suffer the trip with third degree burns.
After spending the night in the hospital with wet bandages on the charred skin, Father Marc, Brother Robert, Johnny, and I went to check on his status. He and his mother both looked exhausted- she had to sleep on the hospital floor with not even a sheet as a cover. The doctor and a team of student nurses appeared to scrape the charred skin from Ezekiel's body, starting with his leg. Mind you, this process is done in the middle of a large room, stretcher bed, after stretcher bed. Ezekiel is completely exposed. Privacy in Haiti is non-existent.
The doctor proceeds to scrape. Ezekiel squeezes my hand and breathes heavily as layers of char disappear. Black away. First layer of pink gone. Raw, red skin appears. Ezekiel breaths heavily and squeezes harder. The doctor moves from thigh to more sensitive areas. I think my hand will break and tears threaten to slip over the brim of my eyes. I don't know how he isn't screaming. The sensitivity of the area is incomprehensible, and the process is tedious. After what seems like days, all of the charred skin is gone, and all that is left is red, raw skin.
Fast forward to today-
Ezekiel is here at Espwa staying in the Guest House. He has a nurse come and clean his wounds twice a day, while the rest of the day he lays in bed, naked from the waist down, unable to make big movements. The bandaging process everyday consists of scraping off the burn cream from the night before, wetting all the burns with a wet cloth, and then reapplying the cream and bandages. This is going to be a long, painful healing process. I don't know how he smiles. I cringe just seeing his injuries. I guess it is just one more lesson that has been taught to me.
The tolerance of pain and suffering here is unbelievable, but the rate of recovery and determination is unfathomable.