Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reflections from Team 3

One of our experiences for Team Three this year has revolved around twin babies that were brought to the guest house by their Grandma. She brought them to the white folks because she did not have money for the clinic fee (@30 cents). The mother for the babies had died from malaria two weeks before and the babies were not eating. they were about 5 to 7 months old, difference of opinion in family. There was no woman in the small village that had milk (breastfeeding twins would be a huge demand anyway). The babies were beautiful, but looked dehydrated, especially the little boy. Danny suggested that we take them to the clinic for a plan by the staff there. Mission funds paid the fee necessary. Meleiah Toby examined and weighed the children: Sam weighed 5K and Baryuo, the girl, 4K. Baryuo was doing better however, eating more and was more responsive. Sam had a depressed fontanel (which means not enough fluids being consumed). Meleiah and John Toe, the pharmacist, made a plan for the grandma and aunts that were caring for the babies to feed them plantain powder mixed with other powder and water. They walked home with the babies about two miles to a nearby village Barduah.

That evening at debriefing, we talked about the babies and the slight chance they had of survival with no mother to breast feed them. We prayed about the babies. During the night Jack had an idea to help with the nutrition for the babies. He had brought Muscle Milk as a supplement for his own protein needs while in Liberia and had almost a full can left. He brought the can to me to see if it would be appropriate for infant nutrition. A quick review of nutrients looked promising to me, Deb Moore and Danny, so we took the Muscle Milk to the clinic to Meleiah and John Toe. Jack organized a trip in the Range Rover to pick up the grandma and the babies to come back to the clinic for education on using the Muscle Milk as a supplement. They figured out the right amount to give the babies their daily protein requirement (10ml) and sent them home with a few days supply in a plastic bag along with directions to mix the powder with the food they were giving the babies. God provides guidance when we ask!

We walked the next day to the village and checked on the babies, they were both eating and looked a little better. The little girl was wearing a wet diaper, so we knew she was getting at least part of the fluids she needed. (Believe me, walking back and forth to that village is work! Several hills and the weather was 90 degrees plus.) Sam was having some wet diapers according to the aunties. The next day was Saturday and we had a reason to drive past the village. We found that they had run out of the plaintain powder and were giving the babies the Muscle Milk in a bottle. The problem of course is that the village does not have a well, so the babies were drinking creek water (where everyone washes their clothes, takes baths and deposits human waste). The bottle also was visibly dirty. Back to the drawing board for education! We talked to Grandma and said we would see her the next day for more powder (and more education.)

Monday the family did not come to the clinic as planned. We felt sad that they did not come, wondered if the lack of funds was the reason. Jack went Wednesday to the village again and checked on the babies. The babies looked alert and the family was happy that concern was still being expressed for their children.

This experience has been enlightening, frustrating and mixed happy/sad. It was a lesson in resources lacking, education lacking and cultural gaps in communication. The sad part was the loss of a mother in a family by a preventable disease and the risk that placed for the babies survival. The happy part was God's inspiration to find a protein source in a protein poor environment. We ask all of you who follow this blog to pray for God's will in this situation.

Linda Bloom
Team Three Leader

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