By Dr. Judy Kuriansky
A leading American clinical psychologist and post-disaster comfort care expert shares insights from her “emotional first aid” mission in Haiti. See her full story on Beliefnet.
The news has abounded with dramatic stories of children being abused and trafficked. I think of another group of extremely at-risk youth: injured orphans. Their plight was brought home to me as I stood in an operating room, outfitted in scrubs, observing a 5-year old boy having his leg reset by an American surgeon. The attending nurse pulled aside the cover to reveal that he had already had an arm amputated, and explains to me that she had been told of the Haitian culture’s stigma against the disabled, and she is concerned about these young disabled childrens’ future.
In another room, I visited a 13- month old little girl, who lay still on a hospital bed with her aunt and a volunteer changing the stained sheet and soiled diaper under her. The little girls’ leg, crushed when her house fell, had been amputated from the knee down. The volunteer tells me that the mother died in the quake, that the aunt would likely not be able to take her in since she had her own children, and that it is unclear whether the father would be wiling to care for her, given her disability. Only a few lucky children are being evacuated to American hospitals or homes.
The situation sounded desperate, until I talked about possibilities with my friend, Jim Luce, who runs Orphans International Worldwide, which has had an orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti for years. And I was further buoyed after a presentation I gave about the situation in Haiti at the The Third Psychology Day at the United Nations, when a psychologist colleague approached me and said that she would like to adopt that little girl.
I am exhilarated by her open heart, confirming that there is hope.
Photo by Dr. Judy Kurianksy. See more of Dr. Judy’s photos.