Thursday, April 24, 2008

Big ol' smile

One of the parts of my job is a home based care program for chronically ill people in the community. Today I took some guests from the States out to meet three of our clients to discuss, you know, fun things like opportunistic infections and malnutrition.

We get to the first group of tukuls and we're standing on the hardpacked, swept earth, under the mango tree, and this naked little girl, maybe a year and a half, draped in beaded necklaces, comes toddling up and sticks out her hand for me to shake. She was gorgeous, perfect little bow of a mouth and big huge eyes. Sadly, she was also covered in sores, head to foot, with a huge gaping wound by her mouth. Her mother was HIV positive and, though the mom had taken the medication before the birth that was supposed to prevent transmission, she had gone out to her village after the birth where there was no milk and so had breastfed until 9 months, infecting the little girl with HIV.

So now, at a year and a half, the poor little thing was a big, painful, weeping sore, but she was still tripping up to me to smile with the half her face that worked and shaking my hand.

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