We are in fact still alive. My mother in law sent me an email a couple days ago to see if we were still around and if everything was okay. I love that no activity on the blog gets people worried. It’s just nice to be missed, you know what I mean?
We do have a very good excuse this time. Last week was a Vision Trip week. We had one visitor, and because it was ONE visitor we had all sorts of fun. Naomi is Haitian-America (her parents immigrated to the US 30+ years ago) but on all her previous visits she had gone right from the airport to her family’s home in Petionville and usually spent her holidays here visiting family. She had never been out in our area before so we had a lot of fun to showing her Haiti in a totally new way. She had fun soaking it all up.
Naomi is also a nurse and is going to be starting her Master’s in the fall to become a nurse practitioner and her future plans are to return to Haiti and start a women’s clinic which is so needed here. Part of our week was spent connecting her with people that are already working in the health aspect of things here and providing opportunities for her to see what they’re doing first hand and learn all she could.
Sunday we went to visit our friends at Kaliko and spent a nice leisurely afternoon with them. Monday Chris took Naomi into St. Marc to visit Barb, Bev and Al and be there to help Barb feed some of the kids in her community.
On Tuesday I got to be the guide and Naomi and I went up to Canaan in Montrouis to help our friends Bobi and Elsie in the clinic there for the day. I personally had a great day and loved getting out to do something completely different from what I normally do. It was great to be directly in contact with people. I find that because Chris and I know that our workers are more effective if we’re not there we’ve put ourselves in the role of facilitators and just make sure they have what they need to get the work done well. We don’t have that much direct contact with people, which has it’s advantages and disadvantages. I liked that I was able to be reminded of why the work that we and so many others do here is so life changing for people.
Naomi spent the morning working with Elsie, who is also a nurse, and the other two Haitian nurses that work at the Canaan clinic seeing patients. I could tell that she was loving all of it. I spent the morning working with Bobi and seeing the first Medika Mamba patients of the day. Medika Mamba is a vitamin pumped peanut butter supplement designed to help kids recover from malnutrition. Kids 6-59 months (just under 5 years old) can have the damage that malnutrition causes to their development almost completely reversed if it’s attacked full force. The peanut butter is a combination of peanut butter, sugar, oil and lots and lots of vitamins.
How does the program work? It’s so simple that even someone without any medical training can administer it. It’s very user friendly. Before a child is officially entered into the program they have measurements taken. Those measurements are compared with a chart. If they fall in the red range they are “severe” and are admitted. If they fall in the yellow they’re borderline and are admitted. If they fall in the green they are not malnourished and the parent will be consulted about good nutrition etc. The measurements used are height and the MUAC – middle upper arm circumference. Apparently the arm circumference in this particular spot will always be a good determiner of malnutrition, even if the child has Kwashiorkor, a swelling that happens with severe malnourishment. The starting weight is recorded and each week the child should gain a certain amount of weight.
Once a child is in the program the parents are counseled about how the program works, that they need to only feed the peanut butter to the child in the program, not others in the house, and they need to commit to coming to the clinic every week for the check up. If they agree to those things they have to sign a contract. When the children come for their weekly check ups they’re weighed. If the child hasn’t gained enough the parents are spoken to again, and the foundational information is reinforced. If a child loses weight or isn’t gaining properly over the long term, like three weeks or so, they can be kicked out of the program. In those cases it’s generally that the parent is giving the peanut butter to others in the house and not enough is going to the child that needs it most. Each week the parent is told how many spoons of peanut butter the child needs to eat each day and they’re given enough peanut butter for the week.
The afternoon on Tuesday was all Medika Mamba patients and it was pretty busy. Bobi, Elsie and Miss Elise, another nurse, were all seeing patients. I got to be the organizer and make sure things went in an orderly fashion, which is like giving me crack. If I knew what that was like I mean. :) I came home that night after 8 hours on my feet and felt very tired, but had a great day.
Naomi watching as Elsie does a consult with a Medika Mamba family.
Wednesday Naomi and I went back to Barb’s community so we could walk around a bit and Naomi could get a better feel for what most people live in. I felt like the pied piper as we walked and the kids hung off my hands.
Thursday Naomi and I had plans that fell through so we did some quick calling around and made new plans to go into Port to see Beth, Sheila, Lisa and Brittany at Heartline Ministries Women’s Program. It was pre-natal day and there were about 20 ladies in all stages of pregnancy there. I love this program and Naomi was ecstatic to be there because it’s exactly what she’s thinking for down the road.
Agathe translates for Beth.
The ladies come each week and have a short, about 45 minute, lecture on various things. Last week it was about what people eat around the world, nutrition and family planning from the perspective of planning your family size so you know that you’ll be able to feed all of your children well. Each of the ladies in the program are given a baggie with prenatal vitamins for the week, and milk and eggs to drink and eat during the class. Each week several women are given a check-up to make sure everything is going well. Beth is training to be a fully certified mid-wife so she can eventually deliver the babies for the ladies. Before each woman is done her check-up one of the ladies prays with her. It was great to be able to see this fabulous program in action.
The ladies in the sewing school working on their projects. The sewing school is another part of the Heartline programs. The ladies are sewing up the bags mentioned in a previous post.
Friday was a bit of a lay low day finished off with dinner out at Moulin Sur Mer with Elsie and Bobi, and Saturday it was off to the airport, with a stop to look at a roof top garden on the way. Chris and I are starting to get our ideas and plans together for our little space and we’re getting excited about it. I have to say that once again Chris has surprised me with what’s in his head. We’ve talked about the roof being a great space to go to get away where no one will be able to see us. We’ve had a railing built around the whole thing so no one falls off, and because we had to raise up our water tanks we decided to build a little building instead of doing it with steel and use it as a storage room. There’s electricity and water. Chris had mentioned having chairs etc up there but his plans are much more involved than even I had thought. He really wants to turn it into an outdoor lounge area, which is so very cool. It’ll be fun to see it all come together over the coming months.
So, another week gone. Another visitor come and gone. Each week is so different because of the people that we have coming in. That’s one thing I love about the Vision Trips. And, the more we do them, the less work they are for us. Now we’re finding they’re more about just letting people into our lives than they are about arranging everything and making sure all the details are taken care of. We would love to encourage you to come on a Vision Trip. If you want more info about them you can click on the “Vision Trip” link on the left or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.