Nothing had prepared me for our visit to the National Children's Hospital in Manila.
I will post these few pictures and attempt a few brief explanations, but this is a painful post and one that my mind tries to push away.
According to a private blog by an anonymous poster, "In this government-run hospital lie the sickest and poorest children from all corners of the Philippines. Many of them are terminally ill and await a slow and often painful passing. Many of them die due to the lack of medicine costing less than $20... The drama and suffering in the NCH is beyond description. Unimaginable is also the parents pain. Many of them stay close to their children in the rooms, sleeping on plastic chairs night after night, on the floor or not at all, watching their children die before their eyes...
It is into this hospital that missionary Kelley Dibble goes every Tuesday. She brings a gift of a couple of diapers and a small snack for the child or the parent. She brings a touch, a smile, and a prayer. And that is all she can do.
Care at the hospital is free, but parents must pay for the medicine. And if no money is available, then no medicine is administered.
There aren't many pictures of this day because it almost felt disrespectful to take them.
I didn't take a picture of the man who angrily told me yes, I could pray for his tiny baby girl with the sweet smile who looked as if she would not last but a few more days with cancer. He glared at me, and as I turned to leave I saw him bend to kiss her as the tears fell from his eyes onto her face.
I didn't take a picture of the young boy, perhaps in his early teens, lying lethargically in a bed dying of dengue fever while his father sat in the white plastic chair and looked at us with desperate eyes as we prayed for his son's healing. I didn't take a picture of my heart that broke as I realized that could be my own son lying there...who am I that God chose to allow me to live in America with enough money to pay for the best health care available for my son? Who am I that I have knowledge of the healing power of the Savior? Oh, God! "To whom much has been given..." I will answer at Judgment Day...
I didn't take a picture of the several grossly deformed children suffering from hydrocephalus--their heads so misshapen and huge it made me almost nauseated to look...the ones who could have a brand-new life with the medical procedures available to us in the western world, but who will have no life at all because they were born under different circumstances.
I couldn't take a picture of the stifling, suffocating heat that rose in waves as we walked from ward to ward.
I couldn't take a picture of the smell of death that surrounded us regardless of the masks we wore.
I couldn't take a picture of the depth of the pain in the eyes of the children...and the parents...and the caregivers.
I am still processing the depth of the experience.
I'm finding it hard to blithely breeze back into my familiar surroundings and just chalk it up to an expansion of my world view.
I feel so helpless. Is Matthew 25:35 my response? A one-time pat and prayer? What about tomorrow? And next week? What about those in America? What does He require?
God help me...
The sick little girl may never play with the frisbee.
But her mom will try to create a soothing breeze to bring her
a small comfort.
Smiles. Just because it's a relief to know that somebody cares.
Love and care has no language barrier. Warm touches and tears are universal.
The room labels scream.
Each name represents a suffering child,
and a despairing parent.
Her mother's heart is so filled with pain. Not one, but two of her precious children--
in the same bed--tearing her heart in two. Prayer...our love...the Father's love...
The gift of a treat and a diaper or two.
How I wish we could package an effective treatment
in those pretty little bags...
From the outside in.
The world looks a lot different from the outside in.
We can walk away...back to our comfortable rooms...back to our privileged lives.
And yet, communication between departments still fits in a blue plastic basket
that is transported back and forth between the departments
with a rope and pulley system.
The money is just not there to implement the available technology.
And you were complaining this morning about what...?
I understand the reasons for tracking the information.
But the numbers also angered me.
I wish there was a column for number of tears shed.
A column for number of hearts broken.
A column for number of agonized nights.
A column for ways to help.
© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock
(originally published as a blog post on May 15, 2012)