I got to know Señora Maria over her prescribed 5 day course of antibiotics. Everyday she’d shuffle in around 2pm, hand over her prescription and give one large sigh before I gave her an injection into her hip. Afterwards, we’d have a little chat about the importance of getting the whole course of antibiotics. I always fear that patients won’t come back because of the pain. On the contrary, I’ve found the patients here to be very diligent on coming in day after day, whether for an injection or excruciating wound care. When I asked her about this, she told me that in spite of the pain, she was very grateful for the attentive care she was receiving from Dr. Erika and the staff. Prior to the Policlinico, her healthcare consisted of rare visits to “la posta”, the government funded clinics for the underserved and the poor. Her disheartening response to what was problematic about it said it all, “They treat me badly.”
On her last day of antibiotics, Señora Maria was disappointed to hear that my stay here was coming to an end. And in good Peruvian fashion, she asked whether or not I had tried the 20 or so Peruvian dishes that she rattled off. I thought I had done well, but she was still shocked at the few I had not tried. She rubbed her injection site and clucked her disapproval as she shuffled out the door.
Vicki the pharmacist described to me the neighborhood of Cleto Rojas in San Clemente as rustic. I found “rustic” to be an understatement. This area increased dramatically in size after the earthquake. Houses are constructed of wooden poles and mats of weaved reed stalks as roofs and walls. Plastic sheeting, some that have the emblem of medical relief organizations long gone, insulate these homes. It’s a very dusty, windy, dry part of town. We chose Cleto Rojas as the location to do our preventative health campaign.
Tumbling out of our cramped motos with our supplies and anticipation, we were slightly disappointed to see all of 5 people sitting outside. But knowing that information spreads pretty quickly through paper-thin walls (literally), we soon found ourselves in a crowd of 60.
The first week of March, I had the pleasure of visiting Caitlin McQuilling, Nyamat Bindra, and Naiara Tejados in Madhya Pradesh, India as part of a project I started to distribute solar-powered flashlights to the rural villages called Giving the Green Light. I traveled with my best friend and business partner, Stephany Torres. We met up with Caitlin in Khandwa who greeted us with a bright smile and fresh attitude along with Manisha and Anjana, RMF field workers. We were off to Ranai, a village in Khandwa that is home to Korku tribe of India, to check up on the MUAC kids and get Stephany and I acquainted with the villagers.
The month of April was RMF’s Community Mapping Month in Barwani district as part of our Community Mobilization Pilot with the Department of Women and Child Development. The team started this community mobilization activity by having a two day training on the method for Community Nutrition Educators (CNEs). This was to ensure that all CNEs used similar, participatory methods in doing the mappings.
The first day was at the office in conjunction with the weekly team meeting where mapping techniques, use of symbols, and methods to involve community stakeholders were discussed. The second day of training, Anjana split the CNEs into two groups and took them out to a village near Barwani to do a practical mapping exercise as a group. This hands-on mapping training turned out to be the most effective, with the feedback from many CNEs saying that this gave them the most clarity and confidence.
We’ve all played the classic game “heads, shoulders, knees, and toes (knees and toes!)” Actually, I’ve been so wrapped up in adulthood, I had forgotten about it. One night when we visited the Bhil Academy, I saw Naiara playing the game with the smallest kids and remembered singing the song with my cousins and preschool students, back in the day. Part of the song goes “eyes and ears and nose and mouth…” and the children point to the respective parts of the face. Two eyes. Two ears. One nose. One mouth. Something so simple, most of us don’t even think about the meaning.
For the friends and family who know me best, it goes without saying that my date of birth is a sore spot for me. Last year, I actually skipped town and went on an AcroYoga retreat out of state!
This year, I’m unbelievably grateful to report I had the best birthday ever, and it’s all because of you (and Causes, of course). I began with a goal of raising $1,000 for some of the sweetest kids, and ended up with an astonishing $7,025. The money raised gave us the opportunity to follow up with kids from my “love” list, and saved three lives in the first two weeks. Just like that.
RMF Community Nutrition Educator, Samoti, and a child recovering from SAM. Photo Credit: Ximena Prugue
In March 2009, when I was conducting the initial field visits to develop RMF’s Malnutrition Eradication Program I visited a village called Shali Dana, in Kalwa block of Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh. I remember being shocked and overwhelmed by the amount of children with severe acute malnutrition I saw in this village and the complete apathy and absence of government services in this village. We saw dozens of glassy eyed children with thinning hair, bulging stomachs, and protruding ribs, empty anganwadi centers, and children who had been tortured by traditional healers in the name of recovery because of the absence of government health services. Seeing this village convinced me that RMF had no choice but to do something drastic about this problem.