Sunday, November 6, 2011

The face of statistics

Haiti by the numbers

Les than 45% of the population has clean water – 74 babies die per 1000 births – 12% of all babies die before their first birthday – one third of all children die before their fifth birthday - one in 71 women will die in pregnancy or childbirth – half the population earns less than $60 a year –
5.6% of the population is infected with HIV including 19,000 children – the average life expectancy is 53 – 163,000 children are estimated to have been left orphaned by HIV

In Haiti these numbers have come to life in the faces and stories of the people I meet. It is no longer one in seventy one women who die but rather a woman I knew and touched and heard her family cry. It is no longer 74 babies in 1000 but a baby whose heart beat I looked for and could never find. It is no longer 12% of all children under one who die, but special babies I have weighed and fed and held as they sleep. It is no longer mothers with HIV but the mother who lies about her testing so I’ll do her birth. It is no longer 163,000 orphans but the many men and women I have met who grew up orphaned and alone.

In this way the statistics turned to stories and the facts became the faces. The percentages turned to possibility and the thousands turned to one.

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