All I Could Do

The clinic in rural Haiti is a small stucco building with no electricity or running water. The temperature inside the clinic is 103 degrees, and there is no breeze. The examining-room walls are only seven feet high and afford no privacy.

This is my fourteenth trip to Haiti as a volunteer pediatrician. My twenty-fifth patient of the morning is a three-month-old infant named Joceylyn Marquee, who is completely swaddled in a dirty blanket and is carried in by her mother, Lucie.

In our tiny cubicle, Lucie sits with Joceylyn on her lap. The interpreter, Fredeson, and I are also seated. We’re all so close together that our knees touch. The acrid smell of human dirt, sweat and anxiety permeates the small space.

Fredeson translates the child’s story to me while Lucie, a small, tired, very thin woman in her late twenties, dressed in her finest church clothes, carefully unwraps her baby.

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