Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday April 24, 2009 – Clinic Day 4

Today the team traveled to Remar, an orphanage which is home to 90 children, aged 18 months to 16 years old. While some of these children are orphans, many still have living parents or family members, and are living in the orphanage because they have been removed from abusive homes.

The orphanage is truly an amazing place. The intent was to create an environment that feels like a home rather than an institution. The nursery, boys’ and girls’ dormitories are all situated like cozy bedrooms; each child’s bed is crowded with stuffed animals and toys. All 90 children eat together in a large family dining room, the larger children helping the smaller ones.

The majority of the food they eat has been donated, and is prepared by the 6 adult care-givers who live with them. The children share chores like sweeping and laundry, and attend a school built especially for them.

We were greeted by a swarm of affectionate children upon our arrival, and the most common and satisfying medicine dispensed by far was hugs, cuddles and smiles.

Today’s clinic was open to all members of the community. Sergio, a 5 year-old boy in a wheelchair, came to see the doctor with his mother. When Sergio was 5 months old, he contracted meningitis, and began having seizures. He eventually had a stroke, leaving the entire left side of his body paralyzed. His mother, a single mom who lives with Sergio’s grandmother and makes her living selling tea from their home, was able to find a wheelchair, but it is old and broken. She cannot afford Sergio’s medication. We were able to help her today with free medicine.

Later we met Joana, a 49 year-old single mother of six children. Her 72 year-old mother was recently hit by car, leaving her bedridden and in need of constant care. Joana cares for her mother and her children in a two-room house, but has lately begun to experience dizziness, fainting and angina pain. The team was very concerned with her symptoms, and FTC Canada is arranging for her to receive an ECG in San Salvador to determine whether she requires a pacemaker. This would be an expensive undertaking for the family.

Finally, 16 year-old Ernesto came to the clinic hoping to have his teeth checked by a dentist. Upon examination, Dr. Jack realized that Ernesto is literally tongue-tied; his tongue is webbed to the bottom of his mouth. This greatly hindered his ability to speak; in Canada, such a condition would be addressed at birth and never affect the child. Ernesto has had to suffer with this his entire life. In less than ten minutes, Dr. Jack was able to perform a simple procedure to correct this hinderance and completely change young Ernesto’s life. He was extremely happy to receive this unexpected but greatly appreciated gift.

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