Walk for Love

Many famous songs and poems have speculated on how far people would walk for love. Every Monday Djempsy’s grandpa walks two hours each way to arrive to clinic in Montagne Noire. The rural region where the clinic is located is surrounded by steep mountains and sweeping vistas. It takes a good car an hour and a half on a bouncy road to get to Montagne Noire from Cap-Haitien. When we started the clinic in February of this year, we weren’t sure if we would be able to attract many children. Even though there were signs of acute malnutrition in the region, the scattered population makes even the shortest commuter travel several miles on foot to reach the clinic. Regardless of these challenges an average of 20 children attend the clinic every Monday. These children are usually accompanied by their mothers who have made the trek across the sheer terrain.

Djempsy was different. He first arrived seven weeks ago. At 16 months old, Djempsy only weighed six kilograms with severe acute malnutrition. He has not missed a day since and at every clinic day his grandfather is with him. Making the long journey with the help of a horse. Every Monday Djempsy’s grandpa wakes up before dawn to start making preparations for his journey. Djempsy’s mother cannot make the voyage herself. She has just given birth and cannot walk the long and treacherous distance. This also gives us a clue as to why a child with such a dedicated and loving family would be so malnourished in the first place. Djempsy most likely became malnourished because his mother stopped breastfeeding when she became pregnant. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months tremendously reduces a child’s chance of being admitted into the malnutrition program. Djempsy’s mom probably never received the proper education she needed to make a smarter breastfeeding choice. This is why education plays such an important role in every one of our programs. By giving mothers the information they need to make the best choice for their families we are able to empower families and prevent malnutrition. Fortunately for this family grandpa not only braves the long passage, but comes to clinic ready to learn and grasp the educational information we provide so he can pass it along to his daughter.

Grandpa’s dedication highlights the fact that malnutrition affects not just the child but the entire household. Luckily in these rural areas there is a large number of people living in the household making it easier to share chores or help take care of the children. Without the support of grandpa, Djempsy’s mother would likely be unable to face this struggle alone.

Because of grandpa, Djempsy will receive on average 10-12 weeks of Medika Mamba to reach his goal weight. Because of grandpa, Djempsy will beat malnutrition. Because of grandpa, Djempsy’s mother will receive the education she needs to prevent malnutrition in her growing family. Because of grandpa, this family will be one step closer to living healthy and happily. Grandpa is willing to walk four hours, through the mountains, without question, for love.