Today was another busy day doing nutrition assessments on the kids at Yuvon's orphanage. We had two additional helping hands today, which helped to make the process go a little faster. There were at least 40 orphans that were weighed, measured, and checked for nutrition status. One little girl, who was new to the orphanage when I was there this summer, was so sad when she came up to me to get measured. The little girl was only a few years old and her mother had just died from cholera earlier this past summer; I suspected there may be some sort of emotional detachment that now caused her to be extremely closed off to new people. As I started to get her set for a height check, tears began to fill her little eyes and my heart just sunk to the concrete floor. My work at to wait; this little child needed some affection and love. I took her little face in my hands whipped the tears as they trickled out of her eyes, and then rubbed her back. After several minutes, the tears began to stop and I decided it would be a good idea to try this assessment again. As I was checking the little girl's height, she would not budge her head to look straight (this is part of getting an accurate height)-- she kept turning her head away trying not to make eye contact with me. My heart sunk again. After I finished doing a quick physical examine to check for any nutrition deficiencies, the little girl walked away and my next patient stepped up for her turn. When there was finally a chance to take a break and to think about the children I was seeing today, my heart sunk even deeper and tears began to fill up in my eyes. I felt so helpless for the little girl that had lost her mother.. I couldn't even imagine what she must be feeling or thinking... and how this traumatic event will affect her life.
Today, I saw several very malnourished kids. There were two in particular that were in very poor nutrition status and were wasting away. Two very cute kids, but with such a gangly appearance. There were several others that were showing signs of malnutrition in their hair; the pigmentation was slightly off.. an early sign of malnutrition. However, the nutrition status of these orphans is probably a million times better than the kids that live in Cite Soleil... I wish I could help these kids to get a good and nutritious diet, as well. In Cite Soleil see so many kids with red/ blonde hair (which is not normal for an African American baby), edema, and marasmus (a state of malnutrition).
Along with finding several kids that were very malnourished, I also recognized that the kids were showing signs of iron deficiencies and possibly Vitamin B deficiencies. Many kids had very dry and scaly skin (it looked incredibly painful), especially on the legs. This could be due to poor nutrition status... especially from protein, biotin, and vitamin A.
While there was a lot of emotional components to my nutrition assessment day, there was many joys as well. I felt in my element at the orphanage; it was fun working with the kids and playing detective as I analyzed their physical appearance for possible nutrition-related symptoms. I feel like I can actually serve a purpose here; helping kids to achieve their optimal growth, health, mental, and cognition status through their dietary intake. I feel so incredibly blessed to be exactly where I am right now...
Tomorrow will be another busy day; we will be assessing 30 elderly Haitians sponsored by Healing Haiti. I will also be sharing with the kids at Grace Village the letters from the kids in Omaha and will be showing them what snow looks like! ... and in addition to all this, there are a few more components to my nutrition work in Haiti that I will be doing before I leave on Monday. I will be finishing the growth charts and determining which kids will need a nutritional supplement to gain more weight.