Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Yesterday I met Marevie

Marevie is happy with her new family - Photo: Hilary Atkins 
 Yesterday I met Marevie. She is the little girl found by Louis Klamroth in February. She was about a year old, skeletal and hardly breathing and Louis saved her life. He not only took her to hospital but also, because she had no living parents, took responsibility for her until she was well enough to be taken into the SOS Children’s Village in Santo.

Marevie became a child of the village in May this year, once she was out of the danger zone. Nevertheless her hospital treatment was not over and Marevie has been in and out of a specialist hospital during the last five months. She is still thin and doesn’t yet look really healthy, but she has other things going for her.

For a start, Marevie is now surrounded by a very large family of 19 children, cared for by one SOS mother and two ‘aunties’ and even has a younger baby sister (the families are extra large due to earthquake fatalities). She is obviously very much loved by her older sisters and brothers who are carefully monitoring her progress. She can now walk and has said her first words.

When she was found by an SOS volunteer, she was little more than skin and bones - Photo: Georg Willeit
Even though Marevie was only a baby when the earthquake struck she has been severely traumatised, not just by the physical disturbance but by the fact that she nearly starved to death. According to Louis the starvation was deliberate, caused by her stepmother, her father’s second wife, who fed her own children at the expense of Marevie. She would almost certainly have died if Louis hadn’t spotted her emaciated body amongst so many other children at a community feeding centre.

I think it will be a while before Marevie recovers from her ordeal. One hopes she will forget it as she gets older, but who knows what emotional damage is done by such inhuman treatment? Only time will tell.

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