Painful Plight of Haiti’s ‘Restavec’ Children

By Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent, on January 9, 2010—
“For more than a week, Sende Sencil had gone without bathing, until two young American doctors at the hospital where she was being treated took the 9-year-old girl for a short walk outside to a shower to wash off the filth and grime.

Beaming, and in clean clothes for the first time since the earthquake, Sende, who was thought to be an orphan, returned to the hospital’s tents with the doctors.

As they walked, a man approached them on the street and reached out to grab Sende.

“I’m looking for her. She’s my family,” the doctors remember the man saying in broken English. “I’m taking her home.”

Pediatricians Tina Rezaiyan and Liz Hines, had been looking forward to the day when Sende’s parents might come to claim her, but this was not what they’d anticipated.

“She was trembling and hiding behind us. She was so scared of him,” said Hines, a second-year pediatric resident at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

“She was terrified. She’d been holding Liz’s hand, and she clung to it and wouldn’t let go,” said Rezaiyan, also a second-year pediatric resident at Hopkins. “He kept trying to grab her, and I had to put myself between him and Sende.”

The two doctors whisked Sende back to the hospital tent, where the doctors found an interpreter.””

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