Local Support Makes Malnutrition Programs Possible

Our guest blogger this week is Racha Yehia, MFK Nutrion Fellow.

Every Tuesday, I have the privilege to go to one of the rural clinics in Bahon that MFK runs with the Haitian NGO, Sonje Ayiti Organization (SAO). We have been fortunate to work with SAO in Bahon on the malnutrition program for the past two years. We provide the Medika Mamba and my services as a nutritionist and they provide the driver, the nurse and the community health worker. To get to Bahon it takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours and every week during our drive I have the chance to observe beautiful landscapes and get a glimpse into the daily activities of the people living in the area. From the milk man on his bicycle transporting plastic milk containers to the households, the workers drying orange peels that will be exported to France and used in Grand Marnier Orange Liquor, or women washing their laundry and bathing in the rivers, each trip to Bahon showcases Haiti’s diversity.

When the nurse, Rose Lourde, and I get to clinic we are greeted by one of the most dedicated community health workers in the region, Syriac. As a health worker, he has an important task at hand and takes his job very seriously. He is constantly on the lookout for malnourished children in the area. On some days he will walk for hours to go to the surrounding villages beyond the mountains where vehicles are not able to pass to find children that are malnourished and refer them to the Tuesday clinic. He has gained the trust of many people in the community and because of him we are able to save so many lives in Bahon.

Another equally important person that this malnutrition program cannot run without is Rose Lourde. She has been with us since the implementation of the Medika Mamba program in the region. Since I started working at MFK and with Rose Lourde, I have noticed how she has taken ownership in her role and it shows tremendously in the educational lessons she does on weekly basis with the mothers. At first, she was more shy and reserved, making it a little harder to get her motivated to give the nutrition teachings, but after several months and with positive reinforcement, her growth was remarkable. What I also admire about her is her ability to adapt to different situations very quickly. For example, depending on the topic discussed during clinic, she offers her personal experiences and makes the lessons more dynamic by allowing the mothers to interact and helping them to feel comfortable in asking and responding to questions. When she feels that a mother needs be lectured about following the protocol correctly or needs a reminder, she is very quick at taking them aside and speaking to them individually and explaining to them the importance of the program. The mothers look to her for advice and guidance and ultimately this is an important part in improving the health status of the children in the program. She has come a long way since we started working together eight months ago and I am very proud of her constant dedication to the program and all the improvements she has made on a professional level.

Syriac and Rose Lourde are the wheels that keep this malnutrition program running in Bahon. Their hard work and dedication assures we reach as many kids as possible and improve the lives of hundreds of families. I feel honored to have the privilege of working with them and I cannot thank them enough for all the hard work they put into the Medika Mamba program.