So much to take in.
We go back out to the bateys today, our third trip. This time, we drive deep into the cane fields, a fair distance from town. Again the team splits in half to cover two separate areas. My group goes to the picturesque-sounding Amelia batey. Picturesque it is not.
Several pigs lie motionless in the mud - no doubt their way of coping with the blistering heat (It is odd to see a very thin pig). A couple of emaciated horses stand beneath the trees. A small boy, who can't be more than five, is wielding a huge knife to chop vegetables - apparently preparing a meal for his family. Other kids are collecting water from a murky-looking cement trough, water we are told they drink. Later we see a man bathing in the same trough.
We set up the clinic in our tiniest location yet, a church building about the size of a middle-manager's corporate office in the U.S. Space is so tight, we put the pharmacy outdoors.
Forty-four kids come through the clinic, receiving the same expert care and loving attention the clinicians lavish on every patient. From my post at the pharmacy outside, I hear the occasional wail of protest from an unhappy child, but also lots of laughter and animated conversation.
Each of us will remember certain children and families. The beautiful baby whose skin is covered with scabies, an infestation of mites. The little boy who is malnourished in part because his teeth are so decayed, it hurts him to eat. The mother of year-old triplets, who is still breastfeeding all three babies - while also caring for her other six children.
As on the other days, the children and parents wait patiently. They shake our hands. They say thank you.
In this batey, we are less than half an hour's drive from some fancy island resorts, the kind where many of us like to vacation. A part of the mind wants to forget this kind of poverty and suffering exist. But of course, that can't happen now: we've been in the bateys.