What a day Tuesday was! We had 60 moms and babes visit the nutrition center. It took six of us from 0900 to 1700 to assess all of them and then make formula up for each child that needed something to feed on for the next 7 days.
We were able to discharge or graduate 29 of them from the formula distribution program. Most of them those had been in the program for 2 to 6 weeks and had gain enough weight that we felt confident that they would continue to thrive. 29 of the group were on the other end of the malnutrition scale and are what we term as severe acute malnourished infant.
These are the children that you see on the TV ads that skin and bones with old man looking faces. These are the ones that we will invite to be inpatient for us to begin feeding very special formula every 2 or 3 hours around the clock. It would not take long before you will see the difference. We kept going with the formula distribution for several more weeks after we got here just as a courtesy to the folks who were doing it before and wanted to just hand the program over to us because they were burnt out and ran out of money. That type of program is not what we came here to do. We want to deal with the infants that are near death if nothing is done for them soon. Yes, we care about the others but they can still breast feed and should be on solid foods by now. The moms just need a push off of the free formula. Of course, some moms were unhappy because they thought that they could get free formula until their child was old enough to go to school.
The Director of the local village government health clinic came riding into the center of the milk program. Right behind him came Jonathan, one of the staff helping translate for me from English to French and then another local lady was translating from French into Nangjere. Any how the health clinic director wanted to know what we were doing. He had not heard that there was any such program going on out here. After introducing myself and learning that his name was Aaron, same as one of our sons, he settled down and we exchanged a lot of useful information.
Once he realized that we were not creating another medical clinic in his district and that we were offering a service that his clinic was not funded to run, he was quite happy and he left with an invitation to come visit his clinic.
Would you believe that Chris and I are trying to learn riding cycles? I am still determined to learn, even if it kills me, which I hope it doesn’t! Chris is deciding to give up on the idea. She has had several mishaps in the deepening sand. And it only going to get worse. Like sand dune type sand. We are now talking about the boys looking for a quad with a couple of luggage racks to carry supplies and tools out to the center. Or maybe a horse drawn carriage.
Mike learned to bake his first batch of homemade bread. We have a small propane oven that we need to learn how to regulate the temp on. All in all it turned pretty good. We managed to devour the first loaf in two days. The second we gave to one of the other staff whose wife is down with malaria. He was grateful to add something to his table. Now Mike wants to experiment with adding some interesting grains to the next batch. His dream is to make a small brick oven and bake some artisan type breads.
Transplanted one banana tree that was coming up in a bunch around the main tree. Not having ever worked with, but only researched the idea, we wanted to see what works. There was not much encouragement from others.
They say it takes to much work. Well the first several days looked pretty bad. The leaves all wilted. Then Mike woke up one morning and said that he had a dream that he should have cut all the leaves off before transplanting. So he cut them off after the fact. Over the last two days there is a center shoot coming out of the top where he cut it off. It is green and healthy looking. Say, if any one has any ideas or could do some research, please send us some ideas.
We’re open to learning. Same goes for the white sweet potatoes. We’ve planted them and are watering them faithfully every day. They are growing some healthy green shoots. We bought some from a produce lady that stopped by the hut last week. Not much experience with them. If you peel them raw there is a super glue type substance that binds your fingers together. Takes a Brillo pad to clean it off your fingers. Enough of that. Mike just ups and boils them whole. Once cooled off, they peeled so nicely without any stickiness. Made a nice creamed sweet potato and onion soup one night and sauteed the rest the next morning. Needed more milk formula for next week’s program? Chris encouraged Mike to ride into Bere to the market and try and find some powdered milk. So without a translator he managed to ride into the next village and with a lot of gesturing and scribbling on scratch paper, he bought 36 boxes of powdered milk and made arrangements to have some shipped in from N’djamena. He was able to figure out how much to pay the merchant in African Franks. He even found his way home without getting lost on one of the many divergent trails. Needless to say, he was somewhat satisfied with his effort.
Must stop writing for now. But there is many other details that could be shared. We love and really miss all you folks. God bless you.
Mike & Chris