(Written by Melany Markham (Wednesday, 08 June 2016 08:07) By Guy Vital-Herne)
“I was so desperate. I didn’t know what to do. I tried to feed her some milk we bought for her, but she kept on crying, and crying, all the time. I couldn’t sleep. I was so weak from being sleepless for so long. My mind was racing in so many different directions. I didn’t know what to think and what not to think. I thought she wasn’t going to make it.” This is the testimony of Ellen, a 52-year-old grandmother, as she recollects the painful moments she experienced with 9-months-old Bethniflore.
Ellen lives in the community of Colladère, where World Vision has been working with children and their families to alleviate the effects of poverty. But for the past two years, the people of Haiti have been facing a drought like never before. Many areas of the country, including those of World Vision’s Area Programs, have not received rain for four to six months. This drought, the second in two years, has had a severe impact on people’s food security, nutrition and livelihoods. Crops have been lost, work has stopped and children have become even more vulnerable.
According to a national food security assessment released by the Haitian National Agency for Food Security (CNSA) and World Food Program (WFP) approximately 1.5 million people (300,000 households) are severely food insecure. Most troubling in this report is that 76,000 children are acute malnourished and 37,500 children are severely malnourished.
Following this daunting situation, World Vision Haiti issued a declaration of emergency and launched a response providing needed help to families and their children that have lost so much due to this climate phenomenon.
Several mobile clinics have been organized in order to identify and support malnourished children. When Ellen came with Bethniflore, nurse Jeanine, measured the circumference of Bethniflore’s arm – a common way to identify malnutrition - and weighed her. The little girl was diagnosed with the worst form of it. “I only saw that she was losing weight, her skin was dry and scaly and she was crying all the time. I didn’t know what was wrong with her,” explains Ellen, clearly upset.
Bethniflore was immediately placed in a outpatient therapy program and administered Plumpy’nut, a peanut-based nutritional supplement designed to quickly counteract the effects of malnutrition. “The nurse gave me the Plumpy’nut and instructed me on how to use it. She also taught me how to properly feed Bethniflore using the various food groups that a child needs to eat to grow healthy.” Nurse Jeanine works with the women in this community and shares different recipes through the weekly feeding session that the mothers organize. Each person brings something to prepare the food and the children are fed together while she instructs the mothers on healthy habits for their children and family. “Now I know how to feed and care for my child,” she adds.
As part of the overall response to the food security crisis, World Vision Haiti distributed seeds peanuts, corn, yucca, sweet potatoes, green beans to more than 4,000 farmers; restocked public health centers with additional supplies of Plumpy’Nut and continues to promote its school-feeding program for more than 64,000 children throughout the Central Plateau. Ellen also received seeds of peanuts and green beans that her husband has planted, hoping that this year they will be able to make some money out of their hard work.
“Today, I am relieved. My baby is alive and well. She’s happy and active. It’s all thanks to World Vision,” shares thankfully Ellen