A simple gesture
Everything began with my first visit to during a visit to a serviceman in the Military Hospital in Neder-over-Heembeek. He got no visit nor from family nor from friends. I grew accustomed to visiting him regularly. For him, it meant real leisure time because our afternoon began with a visit to the cafeteria. When the weather was nice, we went walking around the hospital or to the nearby village. Later, in agreement with the doctors and nurses, I took him for walks in Antwerp. So we learnt to appreciate one another and spent happy hours together.
One day he was transferred to another hospital, much further away from Antwerp, which meant the end of my visits. But I got some news from the Padre who then suggested I should work with patients in the Burns Centre. Burn Unit 12 takes care of the young patients.
My first young patient
My first day was full of various activities. The small child was severely burned. When I arrived in his room I was immediately struck by his big eyes. I wanted so much to be able to help him do away with the pain and give love and reassurance.
After the first days spent in his room, we were allowed to go on reconnaissance in the hospital, first in the pram, later in the buggy. At the Orthopedic ward, we received something to drink and we also had a lot of fun. By then it was already time to go back to the room for the treatment, a good meal and, last but not least , a rewarding nap.
Sometimes we went as detectives exploring the basement. So we found the way to the Blood transfusion service, which we thoroughly examined. After a pause, we went back to the room for the evening meal at dawn. What a day for that child. Shortly after that he went back home.
My little one from Afghanistan
A little girl from Afghanistan was hospitalized with her two legs crushed. Not a very nice sight. She was admitted for major surgery and a long revalidation period. Surprisingly, these were happy moments I'll never forget. I had a very nice contact with her and her daddy.
Both had never left their homeland nor seen an airplane. One surprising discovery was how to use the lift buttons to make it go up and down. In Belgium they discovered a totally different way of life. Dad spoke only his mother language, an unusual dialect which made it very hard to communicate. But in the hospital they met all sorts of people busy with different surprising jobs : doctors, nurses and physiotherapists all working together. Twirling white skirts and white skin ! How very strange.
The personnel and other people offered the little girl a mountain of presents, games and … animals. Soon there was no room left to stockpile these. A long revalidation period started after the last operation of a long series. First in a wheelchair, we were playing balls in the corridor. The personnel played and laughed with us, as though nobody was feeling tired. As in a large family, all the forces were united to help the little girl get better. She recovered very quickly.
On day we saw them leave for Afghanistan -their home - where war was still waging. Not an easy task to get all the presents into the airplane. Her dad had even received a TV-set of which he took great care , making sure it was well loaded aboard the plane. What an adventure for this man from elsewhere !
The doctors and nursing personnel efficiently helped the little girl : they have golden fingers. The girl could go back home in perfect health. I could even teach her a few words in Dutch.
I still remember our visit to the farm. I bought Dad a beer : that was the nicest present I have ever given ! Never before had I seen a man drink a glass of beer with such taste. You should have seen the look on his face, all that because of a simple gesture and a kind word.
What a satisfaction !
When you work with hospitalized children, you soon forget your own little worries which do not compare to those of the child that is being looked after. It is a source of great joy to help them feel better.
Therefore I want to thank all the Pinocchio team for a well-done job : doctors and nurses who are present day and night, and all the people working discreetly to make things possible. I enjoy contributing to this mission and wish a long and happy life to Pinocchio.