Sulma is 10 years old. She lives with her family in a small community between Laka and Tikiuraya, in the honduran Moskitia. In this region many kids suffer malnutrition, TBC and malaria. Those who don’t most of the times aren’t able to go to school because they have to help out their families too early. Most of the time these kids not only help in the house but also in the fields, doing tough works and handling dangerous tools for children. Sulma infact arrives at the Centro de Salud in Tikiuraya, after an hour walk with her grandmother, with her hand wrapped in a dirty bloody rag and fear in her eyes.
Sulma and her granny speak no spanish at all, only the miskito language. Ledy Carina Antonio Feldeman, a 20 years old miskito nurse, tells me the girl cut her hand with a machete while collecting rice in the field to help out her family. Sulma’s been loosing a lot of blood at this point so the nurse injects directly in her wound some anaesthetic. This is all she can do here in Tikiuraya. No painkillers, no needles, no sterile lints. No nothing. The only solution is to bring her as soon as possibile to the hospital in Puerto Lempira, four hours away on the Rio Kruta with a small offboard, the luckiest mean of transport that can be found here. Sulma’s grammy doesn’t want to go with her and entrusts Anja, a UN volounteer, Coban, the driver, and me to bring the girl to the hospital. Sulma doesn’t cry at all while on the boat, never moans nor behaves as you would expect a ten years old kid to do in such a situation.
We arrive at the emergency room after sunset. The young doctor immediately stops with a clamp the bleeding, disinfects the wound and patches it. Sulma is now safe, tired more than scared. She is brought to pediatrics for the night. Doctors says she could have died because of the bleeding if she had not arrived in time at the hospital. The day after, at dawn, I find her looking out of the hospital window waiting for her mother to arrive. Once in a while she calls her out and finally starts cryng. The surgeon, Doctor Hugo Reyes, and the paediatrician, Doctor Margarita Marulanda, decide Sulma has to get surgery straight away, even though fortunately they won’t have to amputate her finger.
In a few hours Sulma is ready to get surgery, after a first shot of anaesthetic she is brought to the surgery room. The surgery itself is quite easy and lasts less than a couple of hours. While Reyes is at work some of the doctors that took care of her the night before enter the surgery room to be informed about the girl’s conditions. Everything has worked out fine and Sulma is brought back to pediatrics while still asleep. She is now out of danger and has nothing left to do than waiting for her mother or anyone to come and take care of her.