Partnerships expand MFK’s impact
2017 has started off at a run here at MFK’s nutrition department. We have facilitated the opening of three new malnutrition programs here in Cap Haitian in addition to our already 17 functioning programs. These are all run by local Haitian nurses and health agents in local clinics, hospitals and schools. Sometimes in backyard spaces as well. We go where the people of Haiti need Medika Mamba the most. One of the most important factors for our malnutrition program is access.
Our partners at C2C in Acul du Nord have a strong team of community health agents and nurses who have been running malnutrition programs in their two existing clinics since August. They all put in an extremely big effort with the mothers, specifically focusing on ensuring that the acutely malnourished infants keep progressing in the program and educating the mothers for a lifetime of proper nutrition.
Rose Carline and I spent a day with Edelie. She’s my age and I wondered, if I had been born here, would I have been able to be as successful as this nurse? She’s calm as she greets each mother. Being calm in this place is so important. I often find myself dazed with the overwhelming amount of patients, the hectic streets, the smells, the language. Yet Rose Carline and Edelie welcomed each new patient into our program with ease. My spirit is encouraged when Rose takes a mother by her hand and says in Creole, “Your baby is going to be OK now.” I’ve never been a mom, so I can’t comprehend that feeling of dread for your child, but I see it in the mother’s eyes when they know their son or daughter is on the edge of life.
Edelie starts clinic by sitting with the mothers as a group to discuss proper nutrition. Edelie sits down with the women and, instead of telling them what to do, she takes the time to have a conversation among all the women. Questions are given the time to be asked, and answers are given the time to be understood. The most important part is that the moms comprehend the health of their babies.
When I was watching Edelie and Rose Carline converse with the mothers, I spent some time reflecting on how I learned and applied proper nutrition for myself back home in Canada. I was fortunate to learn a lot about proper diet simply because I went to nursing school. If I want a salad, I get in my car, drive to the grocery store, buy vegetables (or a prepared salad), and I drive home. Then I go into my furnished kitchen, wash my hands and food with clean running water that always works, use a cutting board and a knife, and a bowl and prepare and eat my salad. Then I put away the extra in a refrigerator where I know it will keep for the next few days. It’s a linear and simple solution.
Unfortunately here in Haiti, that’s not always the case.
Vegetables must be grown in gardens, which require tilling, rotation, weeding, watering, harvesting, washing (with clean water which can take up to an hour to find and prepare). If you want to wash the vegetables you need to walk to a water well and pump it into a container which you will carry back to your house. I would say the majority of Haitian homes have some form of a knife, but not everyone, so cutting the vegetables and preparing them as a dish can take up to another hour. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a garden, you must make a half day trip to and from the market to purchase the food, usually on foot or in the back of a 1950s pickup truck with ten other people called a taptap.
Despite the maze that poverty creates for the mothers here in Haiti, Edelie impressively navigates alongside them. In the meantime, Medika Mamba is saving their child’s life.
It is because Edelie is Haitian that she understands their situation, which is why working with the locals is absolutely key for MFK.
Please join me in cheering on C2C clinic for their success in their two already functioning quality health care clinics and the opening of another (all three of which will include a Medika Mamba program).
I’ve always been a bit of a feminist, but seeing how much nurses can affect change and make progress is truly something special to be a part of.
“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” — African Proverb