DAY 5 – Dominican Republic
This morning we returned to the orphanage, got a lot of painting done, and gave the girls a brand new rose colored room with hot pink dressers. After saying our last goodbyes, we returned to the house, ate lunch, and packed up the hygiene packets we assembled for patients at the local hospital. Each packet contained a variety of soaps, hotel shampoos, toothbrushes, etc…a special treat for the patients, seeing as the hospital is only obligated to provide them with a bed and an IV.
The hospital visit truly was mentally draining for many of us. The atmosphere was unlike any hospital I have ever entered. Honestly, the humane shelter in my home town seems more luxurious than the patients’ rooms we entered; and I don’t mean for that comparison to sound facetious…unfortunately, the conditions there were truly unreal. Upon our arrival, the boys and girls were separated, due to the fact that no males, even family, are allowed in the maternity ward. Thus, I am unable to attest for what the boys saw, but from what they say many of the injuries and treatment methods they encountered were fairly hard to stomach. They described devices made of string and milk jugs being used to support broken limbs until patients could afford more advanced healing accommodations.
We girls, however, remained in the maternity area throughout our entire visit, distributing the hygiene packets and snapping Polaroid pictures of the newborns for their mothers. It truly was a blessing being able to encourage the mothers and offer them a nice treat for the day. After making our rounds through the nursing rooms, Carie turned to me, knowing I am a pre-med student, and asked if I would be willing to accompany her into the neonatal unit to take pictures of the babies. As heartbreaking as it is to say this, I honestly felt as if I was possibly taking the last photographs of these babies’ lives…I tried my hardest to find a good angle with the polaroid, as ridiculous as that sounds, because I figured that one instant-print photograph could possibly be the last tangible memory a mother will have of her child. The babies were so tiny, so helpless…and the final picture I took was of the smallest one, probably seven inches from head to toes, inside an incubator located at the front of the room. A true fighter. I have never seen anything like it. At that very moment I couldn’t help but think of Santo…almost equally as weak and helpless, yet hopeful and thankful just to be alive. It was, to say the very, very least, a humbling experience I will never forget.
After the hospital, we returned to the house and finished painting the Bernard’s’ fence…and each other. I think the dog even got paint on itself at one point. Ultimately, it was nice being able to do something for Rick and Carie…they have been beyond wonderful hosts, and it was the least we could do to reciprocate all of their help.