Mageli St. Simon, a Haitian Red Cross volunteer, started taking care of him. “His head was injured,” she said. “And he was sick; maybe malaria, maybe typhoid.”
St. Simon started to interact with the sick child, and after a day or so, she got his name. She gave him a pen and paper, and he drew his mother and father. Then she gave him a toy phone.
“He started speaking to his mother. I asked him what she was saying. He told me, ‘She says don’t look for me, I’m dead.’ I don’t know how he knew, someone must have told him before he got lost.”
Three days on, Joe’s doing well. He's still sick, but is taking water and a little food. He draws us a cross. I tell him my name is Joe too, and he gives me a long, deep look.
He’s a beautiful, fragile little boy, with a slight squint that makes him look even more vulnerable; it makes you want to protect him.
St. Simon agrees. “You have to really know yourself before you know other people,” she said. “That’s why I take care of Joe, to know what he needs. I can’t give people any money, but I can help in my own way.”
If Joe has no family members who can take on the responsibility of caring for him, the little boy will go to an orphanage as soon as a suitable organization working with orphans can be found. And he’ll do fine. He’s a survivor.
A Relief Worker
Grim reality has a way of knocking at the door for the aid workers in Haiti. That was certainly true for American Red Cross relief worker Steve McAndrew, who is serving as the head of the global Red Cross relief operation in Haiti.
“I was walking across the parking lot when a voice said, ‘Sir, can you help me?’ I said, ‘I’m really sorry, this isn’t a hospital.’ She screamed, and it was then that I saw the baby in her arms. He was small, maybe four or six months old, and he had a drip in his leg. He was foaming at the mouth and his chest was heaving up and down, up and down," McAndrew remembers.
"I called over two of my medical colleagues. They put the baby in the shade and started to check him over. Then a surgeon came over and said the kid had to get to hospital fast.”
We had to be quite aggressive to clear the dozens of cars and trucks that were in the way. We weren’t expecting a critically ill child to be brought in," McAndrew said.
The boy was sped to the Red Cross field hospital, where he was received by Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi. The baby's condition was so severe that he needed immediate ventilation and was rushed by helicopter to the USNS Comfort, an offshore floating hospital run by the military, where American Red Cross volunteers are serving as interpreters.
“We don’t now if he will survive or not, but he’s in the best possible place,” said Elsharkawi.