Monday, January 28, 2013

Missing Elie

John has written another moving post , this time about the life of a poor Haitian family who were trying to keep alive their two-year-old son, Elie, who had a major heart defect. Tough to do when you live in a tent. John expended a lot of time and effort to try and line up a hospital and surgeon for this child. He also examined Elie on his trips to Haiti, provided medications, and kept in contact with Elie's mom. But, unfortunately--an understatement--Elie died.

When you get to know a child who lives in Haiti, the child ceases to become an abstraction. What do I mean by this? In the United States and the developed world, we get a fair amount of news coverage of the millions who have malaria, or the tens of thousands who are homeless from an earthquake, or the hundreds of thousands who are living in refuge camps or under tents. Those numbers are overwhelming; it's difficult to get your mind around all that suffering. What the mind can't comprehend, it often ignores. These inumerable people--it's almost like they are not real to us, only unfathomable numbers. But one child like Elie who needs heart surgery, one child who needs regular meals and schooling--one person, this is a situation that speaks to our hearts.

And when you know a person, like Elie, it becomes much less easy to rationalize their not getting the heart surgery they need. John makes the point in his post: we here in the United States would move heaven and earth to get treatment for our child. More to the point, we wouldn't have to; it's an expectation. It should be an expectation for ALL CHILDEN EVERYWHERE. It's not about lack of resources; it's about lack of will.

This isn't to say that we don't need big, systemic solutions to the problems that plague Haiti and elsewhere--clean water, schools, decent roads, innoculation programs. We do. But while we're working on these big solutions, we can't ignore children like Elie.

Pictured above Elie's father and neighbors outside his home.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I read the post of John's and my heart ached for Elie and for his parents.

I was reminded when I read this of something John said to me, long ago, when Moise first came into our lives. He said that we can't save the world, we can't even save Haiti, only the one right in front of us, the one who has a name. Unfortunately, sometimes we can't even save those.