Miss Gourges

Miss Gourges, a nurse, has been a staple of Justinien Hospital’s pediatric ward for 23 years. Now she runs MFK’s malnutrition clinic at the same hospital, where she educates mothers about good nutrition habits and monitors progress. She gives off the impression of a no nonsense woman who is absolutely unflappable.  Each time the children come in, Miss Gourges asks the mothers the same questions as they strap their children into slings for weighing. Are they eating the Mamba? Are they eating more than just Mamba? Are they drinking clean water? Has there been coughing, fever, or diarrhea? If the answers do not meet her expectations, she sternly tells the mothers what they need to change to make them fit her expectations.

Every day before the distribution of Mamba, Miss Gourges educates the mothers about foods that keep their children healthy and energetic even with minimal resources. She expresses how happy the mothers are with the program. They’re so grateful to see their children come alive. Unfortunately, not all children who come in qualify for the program, but they still go home with vitamins and a recommendation to an outpatient clinic. Miss Gourges follows the protocols unyieldingly saving Medika Mamba for those children who need it most.

Her formidableness allows her to make it through the day, but as she pulls me urgently to the bedside of a recently enrolled boy, I know it’s a facade. The boy is an orphan whose mother died last month. He, too, is HIV positive and already severely malnourished. Miss Gourges found him in the pediatric ward, where he was receiving milk formula as treatment for his malnutrition. She enrolled him in the Mamba program without delay and now hopes that he will regain strength and have a fighting chance.  With her on his side, I have every confidence that he will survive. She’s a tough woman, a gentle heart, and an invaluable asset to MFK’s program.