Saturday, September 12, 2009

Strong food, strong babies

A month ago, we initiated a children's malnourishment program at one of the hospitals in our province. I did a long story on it, but was never able to post due to connectivity issues. The program is called "Strong Food" and is intended to bring severely malnourished children to a point where they regain their appetite and are able to eat regular food again. The food is a paste-like mixture of ground almonds, dried milk, sugar, oil and vitamins. It has a very stable shelf life and actually does taste pretty good.

A month ago, we spent two days training medical staff at one of the two hospitals in the province. It was a great time. We felt a connection with the staff and it appeared that they were really taking in the information and developing a plan to administer the program. We spent the first day teaching about malnourishment, how to mix the food and how to select the children for the program. The second day was spent screening more than 50 children by taking height/weight measurements. Seventeen children were selected. We then left the staff with a month's worth of raw materials, mixing directions and my phone number.

I was pleasantly surprised when we rolled back in there yesterday. In the preceding month, a total of 75 children had been given the supplement, and I had asked if a few could come so I could see them. Ten children were present who had benefited from the program. What's more, there was raw material left over. Corruption is rampant in this nation and I fully expected to find all the supplies gone and no children to evaluate.

I am sure this program is benefiting someone besides the children but it wasn't obvious to us, which was good. Staff members were quite proud of the room they had designated for mixing and storing the food. It was very clean, and all the mixing tools we had brought a month earlier were still present. We left an additional month's worth of raw material and promised to return soon to further evaluate progress. I consider the staff's ability to manage this program so well during the last month a success and look forward to returning.

I head back to home base today—compliments of a helicopter! My postings will again become sporadic, but I will continue to be creative in submitting posts and hope to soon share the experience of my first helicopter ride.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you're able to have - and witness- an impact with the programs you're running.