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9-year-old illustrates Haiti’s suffering and hopes

Rescued from the rubble by her father, Willy is badly injured and her prognosis is uncertain. But she's holding on.

While doctors try to give vital surgery to patients in cracked rooms, thousands of injured are attended in the parking lot.

Willy and others lay on mattresses connected to IV drips in the blazing sun with temperatures topping 85 degrees.

Thirty feet away, through crowds of injured, the corpse of a woman who didn’t make it lays rotting in the open. One of the cadaver’s arms had been ripped off from the elbow, her legs twisted in the unnatural contortions of the dead.

Later, exhausted hospital workers drag the body round the corner to the parking lot of the morgue. With the morgue building too packed with corpses, more than 400 bodies lay on the small patch of open concrete, in a scene too nightmarish for words.

The total number that have perished in this catastrophe will almost certainly never be known. There are tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of victims.

The stench of death creeps through to the hospital car park, mixing with the smell of urine and garbage to make a vile odor that forces people to put T-shirts and handkerchiefs over their mouths.

The doctors say they have no diagnosis yet for Willy; no X-rays have yet been possible amid the multitude of needy arriving, many with even more critical conditions.

Daton said he brought his own medicines to ease her pain. Many of the drugs flooding in from abroad have been trickling very slowly to those on the street amid a chaos and lack of central leadership in the relief efforts.

Meanwhile, many of those who die in Haiti fall from basic secondary infections that could have been prevented if only they were attended to in time.

A few foreign aid workers arrived on Friday to start attending to the needy at the General Hospital. But with so many waiting for their help, Willy and her father Daton were left waiting.

A grey-haired muscular man in his 50s, Daton stands upright and looks straight ahead as he tells his story.

Asked how he can make sense of such tragedy being unleashed on his family and his nation, he frowns and waves his hands through the air in a crushing gesture. “This is a test from God,” he says, unblinking.

Willy rolls over on the mattress, showing her frail 9-year-old frame. Her eyes are too battered to open, her lips too hammered to speak. But she reaches out her arms toward the sound of her father’s voice. And the sturdy Daton takes her hand and calmly massages it, while more and more injured arrive and more wounded pass away.