Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Written 8/25/12 It's been almost two months now since we accepted our first inpatient malnourished babies at the center created from Kaleb's memorial funds. Constructions is almost finished, just some finishing touches and screening need to be done on two of the three buildings, but we have been working around the masons as they have finished things up. They are also still working on the wall surrounding the property, in between the rains, but we were seeing so much malnutrition that once the buildings were livable we decided to start with what we have. So, on June 27, though not officially open, we accepted the first three babies. Soon there were more. I can not describe for you the craziness and stress of trying to figure out what we were doing and trying to get everything functional. Looking back, I can see how far we've come, and am happy with our progress, but we still have a ways to go. At first we were trying to feed the mothers as well,and even though the mothers were actually doing the cooking, it was taking all our time going to the market and trying to keep them fed since we don't know how they prepare food here, and they are really stuck on you have to eat this particular green with peanut butter, and this other one with beans, etc. So, we decided to make the mothers bring and cook their own food, and then we can focus on feeding the babies. Well, several of the moms were unhappy and left, but this is the way they do it at any other hospital in the country so especially since all the treatment for the babies is free, it really isn't asking too much of them. We were having a lot of trouble with ladies leaving. They would come for two or three days and decide it's too much work, and then just leave (taking our dishes, etc with them!). Well, this had to stop since the first 2-3 days are very intense and a lot of work for us, and then they are wasting resources since it isn't benefiting the baby to be there for 2 days only. So, we've made it harder to get in. They have to go to the hospital for a consultation and medicines since all of them need treatment for parasites, probably malaria, and some vitamins, then they need to go home, get everything they need to stay for a month and come back on a certain day of our choice. Many of them never come back, which is really sad, but at least then the ones that come are the ones who are actually willing to do what it takes to save their baby. It is so hard for us to imagine, but most of them are not willing to wake up every two hours at night, and coax and cajole their child to drink when they don't want to, or use a stomach tube if necessary. But then that is why most of them are malnourished in the beginning. It would be too inconvenient to take the baby to the farm with them, so they leave a very small baby with an older sibling who gives it water all day to keep it's belly full until mom gets back. Or it would require a lot of work to prepare three healthy meals a day, so they just buy deep fried flour balls on the side of the road, if the kid is lucky! So, we do see a lot of sad things, but we are starting to see some rewarding results as well. I had one lady who was coming to me for baby formula because for some reason she wasn't producing breast milk. So, normally this is Tammy's specialty, but since she was in the US I decided to help this lady. So, the rule is they have to work four hours for a can of formula which lasts from 4 days to a week depending on what stage the baby is at. This lady had been working for her formula for a month or two, when one day she and her husband show up at the nutrition center with their baby who is two months old, a two year old sister, and a 5 year old brother - all malnourished! The sister being severe. So, I admitted them all and at first the mother wanted to go home, but eventually she buckled down and did a great job. The sister, her name is Lundi (which means Monday in French), we called the lonely child at first. We would constantly find her sitting somewhere all by herself doing nothing, just alone. She was always happy though if you would pick her up and haul her around with you. The older brother, Jean, would also beam with delight at any attention given him. They are super sweet kids, and we all love them! But they did really well, we worked with the mom on feeding the baby and the older two kids eat and eat, so last Friday we finally let them go home. It was really exciting for us to look back at a picture of when they first arrived and see the difference!