Words That Burn

Today I walked down to see Ruth and her family; I had seen Ruth and Rita but not Maria. I was with a couple of friends, one who was a nurse. Rita, Ruth or Maria were not there but Anali (the 16 year old) was there with her baby (Ruth), no pun intended. My friend who is Peruvian started talking to Anali about the baby and I could tell she was learning the baby was very sick. I know what that means, an afternoon in a hospital where nobody cares, where you wait hours to see a doctor and when you do, you are just the next number in line. Little to no examination a quick prescription and you are shuttled out for the next victim. So I called the People of Peru office and asked if their nurse, Camilla could meet me for a trek to the hospital. My friend suggested that we take the baby to a private clinic that specialized in pediatric care. It didn’t take me long to change directions, although I was sure it would cost more, sitting in a hospital for hours is not my idea of fun. So Camilla and I set up a plan to meet.

When I came back to the house Rita was sitting on the bed sobbing. It really scared me because with all the trials and tribulations this lady has endured I have never seen her cry like this. I was afraid something terrible had happened. My first thought was the baby okay, but there baby Ruth was and it looked like no change in her condition. I held Rita for a couple of minutes while she sobbed in my arms. Within minutes Camilla showed up and they rattled off a bit of Spanish. I was waiting anxiously to hear the bad news, when Camilla turned to me and told me some of the neighbors were talking bad about Anali.

It stuck me how, this family has worked through, disease, starvation, floods, heat, unsanitary conditions, no money for food, medicine or to see a doctor and the most upset I have ever seen Rita revolved around some local gossip???


I watched as you saw your children grow with nothing at all for you to show.

Like a duck who streams with peace and grace but underneath paddles at such a pace.

Each morning you wake, a new day knowing there is more than you have to pay.

The tears that flow, are not from problems that each day grow but because of words that hurt you so.

Dear lady why do you worry about the words they say, why not just go on your way

Because whether you are rich or poor, words strike deep in your core

A knife will cut your flesh but words will burn your soul.

So off to the clinic we go, this time to see a real doctor. I knew this would mean more cost but I wanted to have a good doctor check this baby out. Last November she almost died and I wanted to make sure that we had better medical advice. Normally a trip to the hospital will cost about $30, this trip cost $120. We were in and out in about an hour and a half instead of the normal 5 hour wait, loaded down with all kinds of medicine, a bronchial infection, diarrhea and anemic. When you live in a house where dirt falls from the roof, your only source of water is a pipe coming out of the ground and when it rains, it pours inside and out, how can you expect a one year old to thrive. I brought a bunch of vitamins and formula with me so before I left Rita’s house they were stocked with lots of weapons against the diseases that claim so many in Belen.

The good news is that Ruth and Maria are doing great in school. Tomorrow it’s off to buy new shoes for the kids. I have to tell you there is nothing more gratifying then waking up each morning and striking out to help another human being. Take the time today to do someting special for a stranger, it will make your day more than special. Thank you God!

Saving Ruth