This sad experience happened to my own informally adopted Lokono-Arawak son last week, his beautiful Lokono-Arawak wife went in to the Guyana Public Hospital to deliver twins; but one of the babies (the boy) died in delivery; only the girl survived (her name is Warokoma – which means ‘Morning Star’ in Lokono-Arawak).

So he as a young father had to join me in grief in having to hold his dead child in his arms, for in my early 20’s I too lost a baby – my first daughter Aderi (Little Dove) and had to bury her, she died at 3 days old from incompetence at a well known private Hindu hospital where my wife was attended to by a trainee nurse (not even a trained doctor), who made several grievous errors in dealing with our jaundiced baby.

But this article is NOT about me, it is about the continuing treatment that poor people (native and non-native alike) experience on a daily basis at the places where life is supposed to held sacred and where we – the general public – expect to be treated with loving care and genuine concern.

Alas, this was NOT the experience of my adopted son, his uncle is arguably THE biggest ‘big shot’ in medical circles of authority in Guyana presently, and he was informed of his great nephews death by my adopted son, he told him he would be coming to the hospital in person, but my adopted son waited for hours in vain as he never saw him arrive. We assume he called the very kind senior doctor in charge when the baby was pronounced dead the night before – for THAT senior Public Hospital official was VERY friendly and helpful…..but unfortunately all the folks beneath him were not so.

From the guard who was a hoggish brute, to the mortuary workers and the person who was supposed (according to the very helpful senior Doctor from the night before) ‘to have records of all deaths and births from the previous night by the following morning’….but who claimed to have no information about anything…and therefore caused a young father still in shock and grief – to go here & there incessantly for the greater part of the morning; trying to view his deceased baby and deal with the necessary paperwork so he could take his child home for a proper & respectful burial.

To make matters WORSE, the mortuary worker demanded a monetary bribe to allow him to see his child (because he claimed no-one had informed him of anything) and then once in the mortuary itself my adopted son described it as being more like an abattoir than a place where human beings were supposed to be decently & hygienically kept prior to burial, he describes the shock of seeing blood on the floor and flies in the room, and having to watch multiple doors be opened and bodies of dozens of other dead children be checked before his son was identified by a tag, the worker handed him his baby carefully, but was rough with the other peoples babies (since those other parents were not present to see how their children’s remains were being treated)…’as if they were pieces of meat in a market’ – my adopted son said.

There were others in these lower circles of hospital authority that demanded monetary bribes – just to do their job – as well, and this is why this article had to be published, it is not to attack anyone in senior positions of power or embarrass the government in any way, but those at the top NEED to know what is occurring at the bottom….because I would bet my life that this is NOT the first time a poor person has been treated with such callousness and unprofessional-ism at the Georgetown Public Hospital – or any public hospital in Guyana for that matter; and I am equally certain that this ill-treatment and lack of empathy/sympathy will CONTINUE unabated until & unless those with a mandate to effect real change and reform – do so as swiftly as possible.

I do not think ALL the lower level staff are like this, but we all know the old saying ‘one bad apple spoils the bunch’, so I think that all the lower level staff that exhibit these kinds of disregards for human life need to be retrained or replaced, or the problem I describe shall continue.

If you are a kindhearted hospital worker – it is incumbent on you to anonymously report any colleague who exhibits the kind of poor conduct I describe here, you are not ‘getting anyone in trouble’ – see it more as ‘doing them AND the public a huge favor’ – because such callous people are OBVIOUSLY in the wrong job, and they need to find other work more suitable to them, otherwise they will only insert negative vibes and unnecessary heart-ache into the lives of countless others to come.

It is entirely possible that guilt reflex may cause some to attack me for being the whistle blower in this case (instead of agreeing that problems never get solved by being swept under the rug), but my 14 years working for Indigenous Rights in the Organization of American States (OAS) and 8 years doing the same in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) has taught me that the ‘Court of public opinion’ is a great vehicle for positive change…..and we need this ‘better tomorrow’ as swiftly as possible…..so my vitriolic opponents may lash out at me as they see fit; it only exposes their own pettiness and personal vendettas.

Yours sincerely,

Damon Gerard Corrie

Last Real Indians