Photo from RMF USA: Hurricane Relief: Memphis
By Allison Glennon

There was an article published today by the Associated Press about childrens artwork from Haiti, paintings and drawings made children after the earthquake that are now on exhibit by the Smithsonian Institution. It reminded me of a story that our Founder, Dr. Martina Fuchs once told me about emotional care and one box of donated crayons.

The enormity of something as devastating as an earthquake like Haiti has a tendency to shut children off and they can become dangerously emotive, they bottle up. Sometimes art is the only way a child can express what they have seen.

Dr. Martina met a a four year old boy like this in her first month of tsunami relief in Sri Lanka, 2004. His mother had brought him in worried, not knowing what was wrong with her son. It had been three weeks since the tsunami and he had not made a sound, he had not smiled.

When the tsunami hit she was out in the open walking with her son and his 2yr old sister. With nowhere  nowhere to go she raced for a palm tree and started to climb, hoisting her son above her. They climbed as fast as they could but when the water hit she was hit and the force shook her little girl out of her arms. Now, weeks later, she was loosing her son.

Dr. Fuchs was not sure what to do, so after an hour examining the boy, finding nothing physically wrong, she did the only thing she could do and sent him home with a peice of paper and a small box of donated crayons.

The very next day he was back, this time with a picture and as Dr. Fuchs looked it over and pinned it on the wall he smiled. Then, he started talking about the picture. He talked about the water and how there were people in it, and then he mentioned his sister and stopped. When he started again, he said was scared that he caused his sisters death because he did not climb fast enough. He was afriad that his mother hated him because it was all his fault. Finally, it was out and suddenly his mother knew what to do, she knew what to do to make him feel better, she knew what to say, she had her son back and they could mourn the loss of his sister together.

From this lesson in Sri Lanka, Real Medicine has made emotional care a component of what we believe to be medicine because we understand the powerful damage emotional distress can do and how sometimes, just a simple box of crayons and a comfortable space can save a life.

More emotional care:
RMF Madhaya Pradesh, India
RMF Los Angeles: Art Outreach at Florence and Western
RMF Hurricane Katrina: Hurricane Relief
RMF Sri Lanka

Help us to continue providing life saving care. When Dr. Martina Fuchs was providing relief in Sri Lanka, everything hinged on a network of friends who were able to help and who came through. Today our work is still dependent on the help of generous friends, giving what they can, together.

Return to Top