Feb 12

This week I have been on the nutrition ward which I find very interesting and generally encouraging. However, there is one young boy, whom I have named Samuel, who was abandoned by his family. We know nothing about his medical, social, or family history as he is not yet old enough to talk and has no one here to tell us. I am guessing he is younger than 2, maybe around 18 months. He is adorable. He is actually not severely malnourished, but enough so that they admitted him and have been feeding him well. There is a mother whose child is in the crib next to Samuel’s who has been holding him when he cries and seems to take good care of him when the nurses are unable to. Today we had to draw blood from him (since we know nothing about him, we need to know if he is HIV+ or not and also get some basic blood work to follow up with his cough) and this mother was not around so another student and I held him still while the intern took his blood. Of course he was screaming and not at all happy with us! Afterwards, I held him until he calmed down and when I went to put him down, he cried and cried. I picked him up again of course and then he cried and cried again. I couldn’t just keep holding him, so I had to leave, but it just broke my heart. I almost started crying right there. I don’t really know what will happen to him, but he is doing well enough that he can go to the next step which is called rehabilitation. The nurses there will also take care of him and when he is ready to be discharged if there is no one to come for him, he will go to an orphanage. I would ask that you keep this little one in your prayers. Pray that he finds a good home, is not HIV+, and that God protects him.

It seems I owe you some happier stories, so here is the continuation from yesterday…

A week ago or so Jon, Andrew (another student from the US) and I decided to take a different route home from the hospital (you’re welcome Robb) so we took this alley looking avenue. It ended up that this was more likely a slum rather than just an alley (sorry Robb, but don’t worry it was daylight) and there were LOTS of little kids running around. As we’re walking, the kids would shout ‘mzungu, mzungu’ at us very excitedly. We smiled and waved as we passed them and then soon came to a rather large group of kids who decided to run after us. They were laughing and shouting at us and so excited. They ran after us the way you might see kids running after a cute puppy or a ball they were trying to catch. It was so cute to see them so happy and having such a good time just because these alien people came walking through their neighborhood! One little girl even threw herself at Jon and another one at me and several of them would try to catch us so they could touch us. It was so innocent.

Another story with a good ending is of this little boy, aged 13 months, who came to the hospital about a week ago with severe dehydration, semi-conscious, a history of diarrhea for several weeks, oral thrush and severe malnutrition. He was so dehydrated that his arms and legs were actually cold which led to the diagnosis of shock. In asking about his sero-status, we learned his mother was recently found to be HIV+ and based on the presenting picture, it looked like the child was going to likely test positive as well. He was hydrated on the general pediatric ward and his mental state greatly improved and he was looking better each day. Because of his malnutrition, he was sent to the nutrition ward to get therapy. He had also had blood drawn to do a HIV test to determine whether or not he needed to start therapy. Just this morning the results of his test came back and he is negative! I don’t know when the mother acquired HIV, but I was so happy to learn that the child has not acquired it and now that he is over a year and not being breast fed any longer, he will not acquire it! There are several children in this ward who are very malnourished, but do not have any other serious health problems and so if their nutritional status improves they will do very well once they go home (provided the parents understand and can provide appropriate nutrition). Although at first it seems like a very sad and dismal ward to be on, I think it is quite happy because though these children present in dire states, they leave on the road to recovery. As far as I understand, they receive good follow-up care and there is even a plumpy nut clinic held once a week here!

Last night Jon and I decided to make dinner. That was the only part of our dinner that turned out. We had bought beans and rice as well as garlic, onions, and some sort of garlic seasoning combination in a jar. We thought all of this would taste good together, and likely it would have if we hadn’t decided to just throw all of it in the pan at the same time! The rice became a mushy, gelatinous mess and the beans were barely cooked at all! Jon was a trooper and ate a good portion of it while I ate maybe 5 bites and then decided on a peanut butter sandwich instead. It appears cooking lessons should have been in our preparation for Uganda plans!

I’ll be in touch again soon for more African adventures!


6 Responses to “Feb 12”

  1. Mom Says:

    Plumpy nut!! Wow, you can imagine how great I think that is! Thanks to Chip we know all about it. Thanks, sweetie, for all the nutrition info and also to see that some of these children do get better. We never know how we touch someone’s lives. How fun to see the laughing children! Good you took so much peanut butter with you!

  2. Robb Brooks Says:

    Hahaha! Well, thank you for the credit of advising you to not travel the same routes everyday but it made me realize that I forgot to tell you something else that I thought you might already know. Impoverished children throughout the globe eagerly and fanatically touch and embrace you for three different reasons: 1. They are extremely curious, genuinely glad to see you, and have been told that white people bring presents. 2. When they touch you they are transferring “demons,” illness and bad luck to you to rid themselves of it. 3. They are adept group pickpockets.

    Yay, cheers for all! I’m sure they were just glad to see you, just as I would have been. Incidentally, are their door thresholds about 3 inches high? If they are, it is to keep demons out -not floods. It has trickled down to American traditions of carrying a bride over a threshold to a wedding bed.

    While I see the national average of HIV infected in Uganda is less than 8 percent it sounds like it is much higher from your personal experience. I have seen studies that indicate that this is because of rampant gang-rape throughout Africa -have you seen anything to the contrary or have you seen any measures taken to prevent or educate against this?

    I know Bill Gates has constructed a massive network to combat the spread of HIV in Africa. Have any results been seen in your realm?

    Completely out of curiosity, I have to ask if they implement the formula of rice (or maize), sugar and water substitute for breast milk for infant re-hydration in that book I gave you.

    Take care Katie and Jon. We, as Americans and Christians, travel down roads where others fear to tread to spread hope and courage among people that fear to tread down those same roads.

  3. Robb Brooks Says:

    I’m sorry, in hindsight, I kind of ruined your story with a caution. In cautionary note number one I mention how some people are just so glad to see you -but it goes much further than that in many places. Part of it is because you are so unusual and I think the other part is because these people have experienced so much progress that they attribute it to weird, alien, people like you. Though they might not know it, it truly can be attributed to people like you and Jon.

  4. Arlene Hiatt Says:

    Hi, Katie,

    It’s hard to not have the time or people to hold the babies more often and for longer periods of time. But know that your every touch is important to their well being. As you touch them and hold them, tell them that God has a plan for them … that God and you love them…pray for good families to adopt them. All the needs are overwhelming; but while on one trip to Kenya, God spoke to me that we are changing the world, one baby, one child at a time.

    The children are always curious to see white people; and on occasion, one or two are afraid of white people. As I am sure you know, be aware and use wisdom, even in a group of children, sad to say. Above all, believe that God’s angels surround you to protect you, spirit, soul, and body.

    I look forward to reading your posts! You are God’s hands and arms in the lives of the babies and children and women you see each day, not just medically, but to show God’s love and compassion.


  5. Kirsten Stokes Says:

    I love these posts. I would cry too for that little 18 month old in the nutrition ward. Heartbreaking. God is so using you there and I love hearing about it. Even though I don’t know you, I feel like I’m living vicariously through your experience. keep the posts coming! I can’t wait each time I see a new one posted.

  6. Kirsten Stokes Says:

    I meant that I don’t know you WELL…sorry about that typo!

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