Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Two Haitian Babies on Hunger Strike

Two Haitian Babies on Hunger Strike
January 1st, 2007
by Dr. John A. Carroll

Two Haitian Babies on Hunger Strike
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
January 1, 2007

Two Haitian babies from Port-au-Prince are on a hunger strike. Blackson, aged 22 months, and Saintvil, aged four months, are the two babies identified. Authorities believe that hundreds of thousands of other Haitian babies are in hiding and doing the same.

Blackson is from Cite Soleil. His main dislike is the continuing violence in his slum which has not allowed his mother to sell crackers and soda on the corner to earn enough to buy him any powdered milk during the last month. Her milk is gone with her own medical problems. Gang violence is the main problem with nearby shootings occurring almost everyday. But Soleil has never been good since it was built on a garbage dump on the edge of the ocean, and most residents have no clean water, enough food, electricity, work, schooling, medical care, or hope. Blackson’s mother is 19 years old and reports that he has a fever, his hair has turned orange and is falling out, and his skin is swollen. He is also refusing the baked mud pies that she makes for him each morning

Saintvil is from downtown Port-au-Prince close to St. Joseph’s Church. Saintvil’s mother is 16 years old and takes him to a free medical clinic run by the Missionaries of Charity sisters on Saturday mornings. He is one of 500 babies that show up. Like Blackson, Saintvil has orange hair and a high fever. He also has sores that have crusted and become bloody scabs over much of his body. Saintvil’s mother reports that he has bloody diarrhea and has a nasty cough. His blood count appears very low with his skin appearing almost white. He refuses to eat for similar reasons as Blackson.

Both babies declined treatment at the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince and insisted on being taken to the Missionaries of Charity home for their care. Their mothers report that they are very upset with the shooting of a sister in a city two hours north of Port-au-Prince over the weekend.

Blackson and Saintfil refused to be interviewed for this story.


This post seems to have hit a nerve with readers both here and when I originally posted it on the National Catholic Reporter website.

The descriptions of these children and the conditions in Cité Soleil, a terrible slum, are accurate. The characterization of children refusing food or treatment to protest a political situation is satire, a device used to illustrate the absurdity and awfulness of children in the 21st century starving to death and dying of curable diseases. Children, of course, are powerless to address these situations; they rely on adults to do the right thing for them.

Having said that, however, children in Haiti and probably other places, do refuse food when they have been neglected. They literally lose the will to live, as was the case with the toddler pictured in this post.

I find it telling that people are more outraged with my post than with the awful conditions described which are all too prevalent in this world.

1 comment:

Ronda said...

Wow!!! Well written! I must agree with you on all points made. The situation in Haiti is horrible (as in a number of countries). The amazing thing is that we vacation a few miles away in Dominican Republic in high end hotel and gorge ourselves on unlimited supplies of food (which we waste) with absolutely no regard for these starving families.