Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An unplanned trip to Illela (Part 1)

I wasn't planning on coming to Illela today, although I did want to
come up here sometime soon to visit Habi and Samsiya at the hospital.
What happened was: yesterday evening at about 6, an older lady found
me at Narba's and asked me if I'd take another woman and her son to
the hospital.

I got up to go see what was going on; it turned out the woman and her
baby were already sitting in a truck on the road. The woman, whom I
recognized but didn't know that well, had tears all down her face and
was holding her son, a tiny bundle on her lap. Someone handed me a
note from the nearbly clinic; it had "severe malnutrition, admit to
hospital immediately" written on it in French. People were all around
us, staring at her and watching me to see what I'd do, shouting advice
like "Throw your bike in the back, you can come back in the morning!
You're in charge of things like this, you should go!"

I didn't feel like I could just jump in and go. Maybe if I had had
even 10 minutes to get ready, I could've. But the driver was revving
his engine, impatient. What I decided to do was run back to my house,
grab some money for the woman, Salamu, wrap it in paper, run to the
truck and give instructions on where to go when she got to Illela. We
got Hajiya, the older lady who came to find me, to go with Salamu.
They sped off.

I joined them this morning, via my bicyle. When I got to the hospital
I found a whole crowd of people from our village: Salamu and her son,
Abu Zaidi, plus Hajiya, and Salamu's husband Sa'idou and one of his
friends, all together with Habi and little Samsiya. My village is
filling the infant malnutrition ward! Not exactly something you want
to feel good about.

If it's the truth that there is infant malnutrition,
which it is, then it IS good that the women are getting help.

Green: Generally Food Secure
Yellow: Moderately Food Insecure
Orange Highly Food Insecure
Red: Extremely Food Insecure
Black: Famine
Gray: No Data

Here is the FEWS map for the way things stand in Niger now. Compare it to the map from July and you can see the difference. Foloa is in the yellow zone. Although harvest season is beginning, we now face the most difficult season for infant malnutrition.


prplgrl2244 said...

So how can we help? Will money help? Will sending care packages help? How involved can a PCV get in helping these children? What can I do?


Kerry said...

Hi Beth. The group that runs the Illela malnutrition clinic from August-January (the bad months)is the Irish NGO "Concern Worldwide". They have a good website. I donated to them last year after they saved the life of J's little neighbor boy, Rahman. It would be the most direct way of helping. Thank you for caring.

Kerry said...

Actually, the Concern hospital is in Tahoua, a little further north, but still used by families from Foloa, and was indeed the clinic that saved Rahman. The clinic in Illela sounds like it might be sponsored by the Niger gov't.

Anonymous said...

That's right- the Concern hospital is in Tahoua. The Illela hospital is government- run. Concern and MSF both do excellent work helping mothers and babies- either would be deserving and effective place to put your money.