Friday, February 22, 2013

S.A.M. Program

Severe Acute Malnutrition Program
Nyahuka Health Center

The children pictured above are just a few of my SAM kids. Thankfully they are all showing signs of hope. They are responding positively to their nutrition therapy.  Many have been at the health center raging from 5 days to 3 weeks. They are all close to reaching their 15% weight gain which is needed  in order to be discharged. 

Ronex (above) is another victim of malnutrition. We treated him for about a week, but he never responded to the nutrition therapy. He was positive for both HIV and TB. His body just wasn't strong enough to fight for life. Yesterday upon arriving at the health center I noticed that his bed was bare and there was no evidence left behind. After inquiring the details from the other mothers, they informed me that he passed away during the night. The mother has lost her husband to AIDS and has now lost her son. This is common...  Too common. 

Fatama  (left) is the aunt of Lowrence (above). These two precious babies are only 2 weeks apart. Fatama's mother is about 35 years old and her oldest daughter was 15 years old. Both Her and her daughter were pregnant at the same time. Unfortunately her daughter died a few weeks after giving birth to Lowrence whom is now 5 1/2 months old. Fatama at 6 months old is only 3.925 kg (8 1/2 lbs) and Lowrence, 3.8 kg.  The mother of Fatama/grandmother of Lowrence is now taking care of them both, like twins.  I have been spending some extra time with these beauties. Please pray with me that they continue to gain weight and continue to grow. Also pray that Christ will reveal himself to the mother, who is a Muslim. We have shared the gospel with her, but she will not accept it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

For When I am Weak, Then I am Strong

Wednesday I was feeling discouraged; feeling worn out and tired. We were at the health center waiting for our translators to come and also for the nurses to arrive; I was feeling like I’d rather be anywhere else but here…  That was even after my quiet time that morning, having read some scriptures and spent some time in prayer… I still felt as if it took every ounce of energy to put one foot in front of the other.  Thankfully God hears our prayers.

I knew that there was nothing that I was doing out of my own strength.  The verse, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” truly came into effect (2 Corinthians 12:10).  God is in control. God is taking care of me.  I am not my own. I live not for myself, but for him who died for me. 

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, 
and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live
 should no longer live for themselves but for him
 who died for them and was raised again. 
2 Corinthians 5:14-15

To my surprise, Peace showed up that day for her weight check and to be given more therapeutic food. She had the most beautiful smile on her face. Currently she is 22.75 kg (previously 18.4kg).  I thank God for allowing me to see her continual success.  It was a great encouragement to see her. (see November 2012 post for her initial weight and growth cart).

Holding babies, leading a bible story, praying with patients, receiving a Valentine’s day card from Finch (The 2 year old son of Michael and Lesley Stevens), these were other things that brought a smile to my face on Wednesday. God sustained me in my weakness, and helped me to see Him. 

Today was another day of the same tiredness.  Again, praying on the way to the health center that God would be BIG and show up constantly throughout the day.  My optimism this week has been very small, and pessimism seems to be taking over.  My favorite patient, Saturday, was scheduled to show up for his 2 week follow-up/weight check, and I was feeling as if it would take a miracle for his mother and him to actually come. 

Again to my surprise, the first person I see as I walk into the health center was Saturday, sitting on his mother’s lap.  There was no holding back my excitement! I greeted them and immediately picked him up and gave him hugs.  Good news is that he continues to gain weight and is now up to 6.3 kg! (see previous blog from February 2,  for his initial story and photo) God reminded me of his faithfulness. 

A few other great moments from today was finding fresh pineapple in the market, seeing a toddler with the most incredible afro ever, and getting a few minutes of quiet time to listen to music and relax before our team meeting at 4pm. 

It is amazing how I tend to overlook all the amazing ways God is present and active each day when I am focused on myself.  But, when I take the time to write down all the ways He has been faithful, or all the times that He has sustained me with sufficient energy, or write down all the things that I am thankful for; suddenly I am overwhelmed with my selfishness… God has never forsaken me. It is I that does the abandoning. 

God, I pray that you will remove my pride daily.  Remove my selfish ambitions.  May your will be done through me.  Decrease my wants, so that Your desires may be increased in me. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Week in Review

Unfortunately, this week started off heartbreaking.  The health center which is only supposed to hold about 25 pediatric patients had over 70 kids on Monday. There were foam mattresses covering any open spot on the ground.  It was a maze trying to get from one patient to another.  Urine, body odor, and stale air filled my lungs with each breath.  

On Tuesday we found out that Baby Musinguzi had passed away. Still weighing only 3 lbs. at 5 weeks old. Baby Musinguzi was the baby who’s mother died on Christmas day. She was delivered by c-section and we gave her the name Hope.  Her burial was the next day.  A few of us sat with various other family and friends as we watched them dig a grave.  A few speeches were given, a few songs were sung, and then baby Hope wrapped only in blankets was placed next to her mother. 

On Wednesday we also found out that another motherless infant who had been at the health center had passed away, her name was Rose.  She was 5 months old and weighed just over 6 lbs. Death and oppression seemed heavy in the air. 

Thursday seemed a bit brighter after getting 10 hours of sleep that night. I had been fighting off a cold which finally seemed to be easing up. Plus, I was very blessed by the love and attention from some neighbor kids . 

Friday was definitely the highlight of the week.  I feel like God redeemed the whole week with multiple success stories all in one day. I am thankful to have a day where all the babies in the Severe Acute Malnutrition program gained weight! We discharged Saturday (pictured below)! He reached his goal weight and is continuing to grow! His mother told me that they live about 3 hour’s away—walking distance, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Typically we have some of the children follow-up for weekly weight checks, but decided that they could come every 2 weeks since she traveled so far to get here. They were sent home with a 2 week supply of therapeutic food (RUTAFA) and smiles from ear to ear.  They have spent the past 20 days living at the health center and have seen drastic change in physical and emotional health.   This kid, who is 1 year and 3 months old, started out weighing about 6 kg  (~13 lb)because he had severe acute malnutrition with edema.  After treating him for several days the fluid began to go away and he dropped down to 4.95 kg (10 ½ lb). In 2 weeks time he jumped up to 5.75 kg (12 ½ lb)! His energy and personality was also revived, and now his big bright eyes shine along with his smile that warms my heart!

Saturday, weighing in at 4.95 kg
(after the edema  resolved)
Ready to go home!

I’m thankful that 2 other SAM kid’s reached goal weight and were discharged. I’m also thankful that 2 of the motherless children gained weight during their weekly check-up. And lastly, I’m very thankful that the triplets all gained weight, too! Born on Dec. 22, 2012, they come for weight checks every 2 weeks and we also supply the mom with some supplemental baby formula.  Thank the Lord for giving me such a wonderful day!

I am also very grateful for many encouraging emails and notes over the past several days. Thank you!