Monday, October 22, 2012

Video




I was encouraged to create some videos for my church family during my time in Uganda.  Over the next several months I will be trying to capture each of the different programs that I am involved in. This first video shows pictures of Bundibugyo and also the outpatient malnutrition project (BundiNutrition).

Make sure your volume is turned on, Enjoy!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Motherless Children



I’d like you to meet Anna. She is a beautiful little girl that is over 1 year old and weighs ~5.5 kg (12lbs). When she was admitted to the SAM ward (severe acute malnutrition) at the health center she weighed in at ~4.8kg (10.5 lbs).  Anna’s story is that of heartache and pain but also joy.   Anna’s mother passed away which left her orphaned and starving.  The grandmother brought Anna to the health center to seek help.  Knowing that breast milk is the best nutrition for an infant, the doctors encouraged the grandmother to re-lactate and begin breastfeeding. Currently the grandmother (66 years old) is successfully nursing her granddaughter back to health!  Anna is still struggling to gain weight—but ever so slowly she is improving. She has just reached her goal weight which means that she has gained 15% of her admission weight and will be discharged from the unit. She will then be admitted into our outpatient nutrition program (that meets weekly) to provide food supplementation and education for the next 10 weeks. 

Re-lactation is a new concept to me.  I had no idea that a female could re-lactate even after several years of not producing milk (or in this case, after many years of not producing milk).  It is a wonderful solution to help improve the nutrition of motherless children.  Still, as easy as it may sound, there are many challenges to overcome.

Here is another story of a motherless child… A baby boy was brought to us by two ladies (an elderly lady and a middle aged woman).  He is 3 months old.  They had a paper stating that the mother of the child tragically passed away the other day. The mother was only 15 years old.  We found out that the two ladies were the grandmother and great-grandmother to the infant.  Grandmother was 34 and I’m guessing that the great-grandmother was probably about 70 or so. But, get this-- Grandmother had also just given birth about 3 months ago, and was currently breastfeeding her own child. Dr. Jessica was able to talk to the grandmother about being the caregiver and to breastfeed the motherless child along with her own child. 

It is not a small task to accept the role of caregiver to a motherless child.  Breastfeeding for two children or re-lactating is no easy assignment; especially when many are struggling to survive already. The average family lives on less than $2.00 a day here in Bundibugyo. It is an astounding statistic that shoots straight to my heart every time I talk about it. Plus, a can of baby formula is equivalent to about $10.00 (and only within the past year has it been available here).  So, formula is not even an option for families due to cost.

The motherless children population is at high risk for malnutrition.  The health center has been facing this issue on an as needed basis, supplying food for the caregivers who are breastfeeding and formula to the infants who have no access to breast milk. It is our hope to restart a motherless program in Bundibugyo to aid the caregivers who take on the responsibility of mothering an infant.  The program will allow us to be more consistent in caring for the motherless infants and ensure that they are provided with proper nutrition. Please keep this in your prayers as we begin addressing this issue.  Also, please pray for Anna and all the other motherless children who are fighting to grow and gain weight. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Through My Eyes

Here is a glimpse of the world through my eyes...

I went for a long walk this past weekend and was able to catch some more photos of typical life in Bundibugyo.






I also had a Ugandan cooking class this week. I went over to a neighbors home and helped them prepare a meal.  I helped pound cassava leaves (pictured below), peel potatoes, and sort through rice to remove stones and other inedible items. Other staples include matoke (a type of banana), beans, and ground peanut sauce. Just for the record-- they work hard for their meals!




Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Welcome to Bundibugyo

I have officially survived my first week in Nyahuka, Bundibugyo. I have learned that Bundibugyo is a district in Uganda, and within that district the town where I live is called Nyahuka.  Bundibugyo means "end of the road", and it is nestled up against the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It took us 9 hours of driving to get from the capital of Uganda (Kampala), to Nyahuka.  If Bundibugyo means "end of the road", then I am beyond the end of the road...

 I am slowly orienting myself and have been observing the many jobs of the missionaries here.  Some of my responsibilities include assisting at the pediatric "SAM" ward (severe acute malnutrition), helping with the outpatient malnutrition project, and reading/research on motherless children in hopes to begin implementing  a program here.  I will also be attempting to learn Lubwisi, which is the local language.

Malnutrition is prevalent, living conditions are poor, and life is a struggle for many. Regardless, these children have the brightest smiles and the best laughs.  Here are some photos of life in Bundibugyo.