Sunday, September 20, 2009

An unplanned trip to Illela (Part 2)


This morning was the longest time I've spent at the infant malnutrition ward. There are five women staying there right now: Habi (in her 3rd week!) with daughter Samsiya, Salamu with son Abu Zaidi, and three women with their babies from other bush villages. One of the women has eight month old twins; one is a normal weight and well developed. The other, a little boy, has bright eyes and seems alert but weighs less that 2 kilograms. While these women stay at the hospital, they are under the stern but compassionate eye of Nurse Hajara. Hajara administers medicines, weighs the babies every day, tells the mothers when and what to feed them. Depending on the age and ability of the babes, they are fed fortified milk, or a peanut-butter like paste, or a combination of the two. Babies who won't drink are force fed; babies who will eat eventually get fed bits of fish and egg. When they reach a weight and health that Hajara approves, they are allowed to go home. Everything is paid for by the government.

When Habi came with 5-month old Samsiya 2 weeks ago, the top of
Samsiya's skull was so sunken in you could have filled it with a half cup of water. She weighed 3.8 kilograms (sorry guys, how much is that in pounds? 8?). Today I got to watch Hajara weigh her again- she is now a whopping 4.0 kilos and will be released when she makes it to 4.3. Hajara said that Habi is the best of all of the mothers at making sure Samsiya is getting better. I was really, really happy to hear that. Salamu was smiling this morning; Abu Zaidi already looks better. She told me today that he had passed out three times yesterday, and she thought he had died. But now he's drinking canned milk and getting a whole smorgasbord of medicines and vitamins. It is too soon so guess at how he will do, but I sure do trust Hajara, and I think she'll know what to do for this babe. Habi and Samsiya will probably be home within the week, and hopefully Salamu and Abu Zaidi won't be far behind.

Some of you who read this blog last year may remember that September,
October, and November were hard months for mothers and babies. One difference this year is that women seem more aware of where they can get help. It could be my imagination, but I think that perhaps some of the negative stigma- associated with revealing that your child is malnourished- is fading in my village. I hope so. I'll probably write about this again; I sure think about it a lot.


slim pickins said...

Oh, you and those babies and their worried mothers have been so much on my mind...thank you for keeping us up with their story. I wish I could our daily meals with much bounty for us. I'm grateful that you are helping facilitate that change in attitude - you are WONDERFUL.

Marcia (Liz's mom) said...

Heartbreaking story, Jessica. Good to know that help is available for these families, anyhow, and that you are making a difference.