While the world’s media was focusing on the saga of getting 53 orphans out of Haiti and into Pittsburgh, a group of parishioners from Calvary Episcopal Church was quietly making sure the children could understand the American doctors who were checking them over.
The Calvary contingent all spoke French.
Organized by Claudette Lewis, the group spent much of Tuesday this week at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
“It was as basic as explaining to the kids what the doctors were going to do, and then explaining what the kid was complaining about, asking the kids to breathe, and things like that,” said the Rev. Dr. Harold Lewis, who joined his wife in volunteering at the hospital.
With them were Rebecca Rugh, Jonathan Lewis, John and Anne Keeler, and Lucy Douglas.
“They all found it a very moving experience,” Dr. Lewis said.
Claudette Lewis became involved through her work as Special Assistant to the Director of the county Department of Human Services.
Despite the trauma the children had lived through, they were in relatively good health, fascinated with their surroundings – elevators were new to them – and generally excited about the prospects of moving in with their adoptive parents.
“We thought it best not to pry and ask them questions about the earthquake, so we steered clear of that,” explained Dr. Lewis.
After an urgent call for donations this weekend, Calvary collected more than $5,000 for Episcopal Relief & Development and a donation for the Sisters of St. Margaret, whose convents and schools in Haiti were destroyed.
Dr. Lewis said he will continue to ask people to donate because the crisis in Haiti will continue for quite some time. But as the Haitian orphans move on to new lives, the day at Children’s remains a valued experience.
”People always write checks, but this was a way to be of assistance in a small way, in a one-to-one, face-to-face basis, so it was very gratifying.”