Thriving Villages Blog
What do Mennonites and Haitians have in common?
There are many answers to this one, I'm sure.
When I began attending the Mennonite church we started receiving a publication called The Mennonite. It was (and is) a wonderful magazine, and one thing jumped out at me. There is a steep learning curve on the number of organizations that Mennonites are proud of. MCC, EMM, EMU, MDS and so forth.
To those who are Mennonites these terms are obvious, but to the uninitiated they can become a dizzying collection of letters that you suspect mean something important to someone. You're not in the loop yet, and as you peruse the pages of The Mennonite you see more and more of these organizations, often listed out in the same sentence. Some of the acronyms become so complex and lengthy that you wonder why they just didn't use a clever word-string like "WeDoGoodStuff".
Haitians seem to love acronyms as well. For example, there are 5 Pestel organizations that are working with Heifer International: KPA, OEJEDP, REJEDP, SOUP, and ASSOPAD. (How do you like that last one?) And of course there are more than just those five.
Yesterday, not to be left behind, the 18 workers and 1 manager of our health program recommended that they develop a name for their 'organization.' I thought that made sense, given that we've been calling our work generic terms like "Vitamin A Campaign", "Child Health Campaign", and "Anemia Campaign". Ok, I said, let's come up with some names. "Oh no, Dr. Ben, we already have three names that we talked about as a group." They wrote the names up on the board, and of course they all had acronyms.
Now I'm pleased to announce that a new organization exists in Pestel! I can tell they and Dr. Seneque are quite pleased with it. The new organization is APPAS.
(I subtly suggested that ASAP could be clever because of it's connotation in the USA. Oh well)
I think I have this right: Association of Peasants from Pestel Advancing (or Assisting) Health.
Look out Mennonites. The Haitians are starting to catch up!
PS: I would like to find funding to print up shirts (they really want matching, labeled shirts) with APPAS on it, and we'll print out new name badges for them. This will help identify them to the villages and I think it helps to highlight the important work they are doing.
June 14, 2011
Yesterday after I wrote in an email that 6% of children in Pestel have severe malnutrition, I finished up my online work, closed down the computer, and went out to meet Dr. Seneque in the health center. On the other side of the room, lying on an old gurney, was a small child, a limp sleeping infant. I went over and looked at him and my first thought was that he was dehydrated and may have cholera. But then I recalled that they were treating cases of cholera in tents outside (there are several patients with cholera in those tents even now. Dr. Seneque said that with the Cuban medical teams, they treated 8000 patients for cholera). I looked more closely and saw that he was dehydrated, but also malnourished.
There was no IV running, no nurse attending to him, no medical therapy. I thought all of this a bit odd. I stepped outside where I met Dr. Seneque and I mentioned the little child. The boy has malnutrition, he said. His mother had passed me going into the hospital as I went out, and the mother and boy were there, not because of the child, but because of the grandmother whose right leg has a bad wound on it. She was lying on a mattress on the floor parallel to him, and I had seen her as well but I didn't know they were related.
IV fluids could have killed this child with severe malnutrition. The medical tendency to fix this problem quickly has actually been shown to do harm. It turns out that the boy was not even in the hospital for himself, but was given a bed to lie on to sleep.
Here is one of the 6%. And it is a great sadness to see him and know that he is not unique in his illness. Imagine 100 people in a room, and 6 people out of that 100 have the same very visible problem. Now imagine another 16 people with a moderate or mild case of the same problem. This is the situation of malnutrition in Pestel. There is no error of hyping up this problem, any more than there is in over-dramatizing a destructive tornado or hurricane. Telling it just as it is is horrifying and tragic enough.
It's a worthwhile exercise to pause at times and take stock.
You have seen these numbers:
$3...the cost per child to run the 2010 campaign. This will increase to $5 per child in 2011 because of the Anemia Campaign.
12,000...the number of children that received Vitamin A and Anti-parasitic medication twice in 2010 and once in 2011 already. That means we are well on the path to eliminating Vitamin A deficiency in all of Pestel! We planned to reach about 50% of children in 2010, but instead we have reached about 80% of children!! We are ahead of schedule.
50,000...the number of Vitamin A capsules provided by Vitamin Angels. They provided the same number of Albendazole tablets. They have identified our project in Pestel for a site visit with an external auditor in 2011.
230...the number of villages that we've identified in Pestel, and we're still counting. We have mapped these by GPS. We can see gaps on the maps where the workers still need to visit/explore. Through this approach we intend to reach the furthest child in the furthest village.
7...the average Hemoglobin level on the island (Section 6). Normal hemoglobin levels are above 11.
25%...percentage of children with some degree of malnutrition. 6% of children from ages 6 months to 5 years have moderate-to-severe malnutrition. UNICEF is interested in partnering with us to tackle this very large and daunting problem.
1 in 8...the odds of a child born in Pestel dying before the age of 5. We expect this will improve already because of the Vitamin A supplements (which boost immune function, reduce death from measles and other causes). Immunizations are about to begin which will further reduce death from other preventible diseases such as tetanus. Further reductions will be seen as we drill wells, install water treatment units such as the one to be placed on the island (Water Missions International), and address elements of malnutrition.
1 million...tablets of iron that UNICEF is providing for the new anemia campaign. The original plan was to pilot the anemia campaign on the island with 1400 children. We are instead expanding this to 12,000 children throughout Pestel!
What you may not have seen:
4...the number of new health workers that we added to the ranks in 2011. That brings our team up to 18 workers with 1 manager. 19 Haitians are now being given meaningful work with reasonable pay, thanks largely to Variety International's ongoing generosity.
$20K...the amount that Variety International has provided to install a robust water treatment unit on the island (this funding is beyond their annual commitment!). The unit is designed by and installed by Water Missions International.
5..Haitian community organizations in Pestel with which Heifer International is now working. 5...also the number of goats that each of the 120 recipients will receive from Heifer, with the expectation that recipients will eventually give away 5 goats to their neighbors. Heifer's involvement is very important because they bring a solid resource base with them, decades of experience, and provide elements of economic development, personal responsibility training, and community involvement in decision-making.
$350...the annual amount that Dr. Seneque needed to begin immunizations. The request went out by email and was provided within by a donor within 24 hours. This is just one example among many. We have witnessed this kind of generosity repeatedly. Individuals are generously giving in a faithful (and quiet) response to God's leading, churches are becoming involved, organizations are being directed by God to participate. It is an exciting work!
15,000...child health records that were brought down to Pestel in June. Each child will receive a unique medical record number, and their parents will have a record that they carry home with them. The record includes information on immunizations received, Vitamin A & Albendazole administration, and the child's levels of hemoglobin and malnutrition.
20...cell phones purchased that are compatible with Episurveyor.org's program to allow health workers to collect data on the children using cell phone technology. This will hopefully reduce the time to collect, enter, and analyze important health data from Pestel. This kind of data provides a higher level of credibility for the work, and organizations are very interested in this. I will be sending the data we entered last year from the Child Health Campaigns to UNICEF because they are interested in seeing it.
4...the number of trips to Haiti I've taken so far in 2011. Again, I am able to do this because of a very caring family that feels the weight of all this, generous donors, a supportive boss, and a great deal of prayer and encouragement from people like yourselves.
:) … on the faces of the parents and children. Smiles on the faces of the health workers who wanted to celebrate completion of a full year with the program! Smiles on the organizations when they see that we've collected baseline data. Donors smiles when they see their gifts being well-used, and the joy they experience through participation.
God is multiplying each and every gift and effort. We seek to do well with what we have been given because we know that pleases God. May our responses be faithful, and may God be recognized for pouring out His Goodness on the people of Pestel as He has already begun to do in a most visible way.
God is good to you too and desires good for you. He desires that you seek Him for He is Good, The Source of Goodness.