Last Saturday I got to volunteer at Guatemala’s general public hospital, specifically in the pediatric ward. I stayed in a room where newborns and babies no older than a year were with their parents; others were orphans. I talked briefly with the nurse who was looking after José, a 6-month old. She told me that he was having trouble sleeping, a side effect from his medication (he was admitted to receive treatment for neumonia, as well as for malnourishment). “It’s my second shift looking after him”, she said, while acknowledging that she spends more time with orphans like him (or babies whose custody is being settled in court) than she did with her two of her own kids while they were growing up. She had made her peace with that and understood it was a matter of circumstances.
He drifted in and out of sleep as I stood next to him, caressing his head, which was missing some hair due to his condition.
I wrote down his name on a small pad I carry with me sometimes, and next to it I wrote: “he’s a fighter”. Before I left, I told little José to sleep soundly.
I’m grateful for that moment.