It was another Wednesday morning at the hospital in Saintard, Haiti, and the air was filled with the usual din of patients talking, motorcycles carrying those who have problems walking, and the occasional sound of distress coming from an injured person entering the emergency department. I had ducked in my office to take a phone call when I heard a knock on my door. “Dr. Cetoute wants to see you downstairs,” said the nurse who was sent to summon me. “I’m coming!” I said, probably a little more curtly than I should have, as I am summoned often for reasons varying from “the printer doesn’t work” to “the toilet’s clogged” to “this patient is near death, let’s talk about the referral”. I just never know what lies ahead.
Dr. Cetoute is the hospital’s chief of the medical staff, a registered pharmacist, and an orthopedic surgeon. He called me into an exam room where I saw a 4-month-old boy laying on his mom’s lap, covered from his waist down. He looked extremely healthy, and, dare I say, almost plump. “What do we have?” I asked, honestly wondering what could be wrong with this not-so-little one. Dr. Cetoute uncovered his feet and showed me the baby’s bilateral club feet. This is a problem we see with relative frequency, so I continued to be confused as to why my presence was needed. Dr. Cetoute was joined with Memen, our front office manager, to further reveal the story.
The mom, I was told, had traveled a great distance, and had stopped at several clinics and hospitals along the way. Either the facilities that she consulted did not treat this kind of problem, or the fees were beyond what her family was able to afford. Memen had noticed that the baby had a string around his neck with a voodoo amulet under his little shirt, meaning that the appeal had already been made for help from a voodoo spirit to heal the child. Club feet are often attributed to an evil being, so mom was seeking help wherever she could turn—hospitals, clinics, or witch doctors. After some discussion among the four of us (Dr. Cetoute, Memen, mom, and me), it seemed as if treating this child could be a great blend of medicine and Christian witness. We informed mom that we would treat the child for free, and that the treatment would be given in the name of Jesus Christ, who could offer hope beyond this world. With a quick nod she agreed, not completely hearing what was said after she heard the treatment could be completed and could be done for free.
…and so Dr. Cetoute began the process that very Wednesday, which will necessitate seeing Mom and baby frequently throughout the coming weeks (for those who like to Google, the team is using the Ponseti method). Improvement for little ones like this is quickly noticeable. We pray this is an opportunity to witness to someone who had turned to voodoo when feeling hopeless.
We serve a God of hope, and we pray this mom and this child learn of that eternal hope as the treatment continues. We pray for wisdom to provide the words and the actions necessary so that mom has no question why she is receiving this hope. Someday, I am anxious to see this little guy running around the hospital, playing games with his friends, and kicking a soccer ball. Someday, I hope he can tell the story of hope that was shared with him on just another Wednesday morning.
1 Peter 5:10 (NIV) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.
Thank you to all of you who have worked and prayed together to make this story possible!