He presented to our clinic at 10pm two nights ago, a floppy, dehydrated, malnourished skeleton of a boy. Carried in by an apathetic, apparently disinterested mother. Is she disenchanted with her lethargic child? Uncaring? Exhausted? Cruel? Unkind? Or just overwhelmed, and disengaged? Filled with her own stressers and poverty too overwhelming to communicate, so she instead stares blankly across the room with an air of dispirited disinterest? He whimpers as his head flops backward, his neck too weak to lift it. She ignores him. She does not watch him, hold him, soothe him, make any eye contact. He lies in her arms like a wet, unloved rag doll. He appears to be an irritant. But, yet, she walked in with him, sought help for him, at 10 o'clock at night. He has not eaten a thing in 14 days, per mom. How is it possible he is still alive? What inspired her to finally come, on the 14th day?
A young girl is carried on her brother's back to our truck in the slums. She is 12 years old, sweating and semi-conscious. She was standing in a food line in the blazing noon heat, and slumped to the ground, unconscious. We lay her on the floor of our truck. Likely dehydrated and hypoglycemic. I take honey that we carry for wound care and rub a thick layer into the mucous membranes inside of her cheeks and gums. She gradually returns to full consciousness. We feed her granola bars we carry for ourselves, and sips of water, until she revives. I explain that she needs to go home and rest out of the sun, and eat something.
"Do you have any food at home?" I ask, realizing that she had been standing in a food line when this all began.
"No," her brother responds for her, meeting my eyes solemnly. "We have nothing."
"No," she mirrors, shakily, and starts to sob hopelessly. "We have nothing. Nothing..."
Have you ever met a truly starving human being? They surround us.