Monday, January 30, 2012

It Takes a Village

Moringa Boy #4 Gastrol! I can't wait to watch this malnourished child grow! After teaching the mother which foods to
 feed him and adding moringa to his diet he is already improving! 

If something touches the code of our soul, it is remembered forever and affects whatever comes afterward.
- Paulo Coelho, Aleph

8:02… and my internal clock naturally awakens me. My village has already finished the chores of getting water, sweeping, washing dishes from the night before and getting ready for the day. I am just getting started. I grab some toilet paper and head out to the kimbuzu (pit latrine, I had especially made with a window looking over the valley.)

Sometimes if I am lucky I have 5 more minutes until someone shows up at my house. Today is Sunday and I had 10-Lavenda just showed up. I’m sure the rest of my neighbors are- yup here they are! And the day has started!

The morning sun is gleaming on the maize field and valley in front of my hut! My new cat is cleaning herself in my lap and the 3 children are surrounding me narrating this ordinary event.
One of my favorite villages in Luamala! I am holding my namesake Katherine and all the other children are my favorite
 dirty kids!

Moringa girl #2, Jacklyn! This picture was taken after I woke up to her having massive
 diarrhea in the homemade diaper I made for her. This is about 2am and I wanted to take
 a picture to remember the moment she was so sick. Hopefully this will only be in her past!
 Read the story for more information!
The new year brought moringa girl #2- the boniest and most malnourished girl I have ever met- Jacklynn. She is one year eight months old and maybe fifteen pounds. Her father is away sick and her mother is a prostitute who “wanted to do away with her”.  I met her when her new caregiver, her paternal grandmother named Mrs. Sinia, brought her to my house asking for food for her. She had been a patient in the clinic for a couple days, but not getting better since the Mrs. Sinia did not have money to buy her food. I gave Mrs. Sinia some beans I had left over.  Usually, I try not to give people food because that creates a dependency and will only feed for the moment and not tomorrow. Instead that is why I provide knowledge about how to grow food. Anyways, the following day I found Jacklynn eating a fritter (flour, sugar, oil) that someone had given her. This is not the nutrition she needed. After discussing with the charge nurse and Mrs. Sinia I took her home for the night. After eating beans with the nutritious moringa powder and some veggies I prepared a warm bath for her. As I undressed her I gasped as I saw the extent of malnutrition- I felt like lifting her I would break all of her bones. The only emotion she showed was shame as she lowered her head and stared down into the water. I held her all night and changed her twice after massive diarrhea.
This is Jacklyn one week after giving her back to her grandmother! You can see the swelling
 in her legs is gone and her diarrhea has stopped! She is eating her favorite green eggs
 (moringa scrambled eggs!) I recite to her Dr Seuss when I feed them to her! 

The next morning Mox and I discussed Jaclyn’s care with Mrs. Sinia who wanted so badly for her granddaughter to be well. I told her we are all in this world to help each other. I also thought to myself without diapers, running water, and electricity she is more than I could handle. If Mrs. Sinia is willing to take this abandoned malnourished child in then I will provide the food and moringa powder needed! Mrs. Sinia smiled and danced in relief!

Jaclyn broke me that night as I held her diminished body. Not because I am here in Zambia, but knowing abandoned children are everywhere. I remember seeing many at Children’s Hospital in Atlanta. This is a problem with the human race. I told the grandmother we are all in this child’s life together- it takes a village to raise a child especially an extra unexpected one. They are everywhere though, not just in this continent. They are your neighbors.

After two weeks Jacklynn is already becoming healthier! Her legs are not swollen anymore; she is gaining weight and life in her frail body!

In the past week, three more moringa children have been added to the list. After weight, arm circumference, and sometimes a CD4 count moringa powder is given to the families to add to food. The family is also taught which foods are best for the child. I have started a mini research study of my own on moringa powder effects on malnourished children. The community is starting to see the amazing effects of this leaf powder! Many people are asking for it creating a very excited market!

We just got 10 moringa trees for the clinic and 10 for the leaders in the community because of YOUR donations! With your help we will hopefully be able to buy more moringa trees, rabbits, and seeds to start vegetable gardens at key leaders of the community homes. By doing this the community will be able to follow by example of their leaders! This can only be done if you are a part of our village by your financial help! You are a part of this village and we are all raising the children together!
Some of the children of the 12 men volunteering to build the community center! I can't even describe in words how
 happy they were to be able to go to school now that they have new uniforms! They were also so proud of their fathers!
Thank you to the ones who made this possible! You made a huge difference in many little lives!
Just another day at my house! The kids made this awesome truck! I was so impressed!
I am coming back to the USA at the end of April, but have planned many exciting workshops before then like fish farming, sewing, village banking, rabbit farming and vegetable farming! The community center should be finished in two weeks and we couldn’t be more ready after five months of working on it!

One of my favorite girls Edith with my new cat "pushi" meaning cat in the local language.

All these kids spent the day with me digging a garden, cleaning, singing, dancing, playing, and jump roping so I cooked
healthy pasta for all of them! I cooked for 30 children in all... it was a memorable day!


  1. thank you for sharing this story of jacklyn. i am glad she is slowing doing humbling to see the grace of God first hand in powder from teas and kind hearts full of hope.
    i love u kat.
    so many things left to do before april! it is great to think of all the things that are being set into motion for long term life in luamala.
    so what happens after you leave? will another "nurse practitioner" come in to take your place?
    prayers and joy and grace to face new days and challenges, your friend, meg

  2. So proud of you Kat - will be closely following your efforts & keeping you in my prayers!

  3. I love how you say it takes a village to raise a child... community, family... all in God's plan.
    May your gardens flourish and the children too.