Saturday, November 28, 2009

What is Kwashiokore?...

There are some basic facts- signs and symptoms:
Read this quick fact page from University of Maryland.  Click here.

Wikipedia has similiar response: Click here.

One of the last things written- is what begins to put it in perspective: "When Kwashiorkor does occur in the U.S., it is usually a sign of child abuse and severe neglect."   In our country- In a nation of fortified cereals, enriched grains, and even vitamin rich water- it would have to be a difficul purposeful task to be as malnourished as to develop what is called full blown Kwashiokore.  In countries where there aren't infrastructure, sufficient food supply, clean water, or support- parents will walk for hours, days, with or without shoes, in horrendous heat and cold conditions to find food and treatment for their children... often carrying their kids the entire trip.  The dedication and humbleness of such an act --brings me to my knees.

Oddly- months before I received Munchkin's referral information- I was moved- riveted and about this odd sounding malnourishment disease. It was written about rampantly by a number of groups doing missionary and medical work in Haiti. Kwashiokore. I didn't even know how to pronounce it. I had only heard it in terms of Haiti- never Ethiopia. Never mentioned on my agency forum. I -I didn't know it was a possibility... a possibility... for my babe.

Tara (one of Haiti blog writers) started raising money as she trained for a marathon. Her goal was to raise $2600 for Medika Mamba. One hundred dollars for each mile to be run- to benefit Haiti Rescue Center in their overwhelming need for Medika Mamba (A highly nutritious slurry of peanuts, dry milk, vitamins and minerals) a substance that when fed to a child for 6-8 weeks can literally bring them back from deaths door.

I gave a bit to the cause. $26 - a buck a mile. Mostly cause I felt guilty that I SHOULD be out running myself. And then I met Renald (He's almost 4years old here)

If I found a extra dollar or five in my jeans- it went to the Medika Mamba program (Doctor's Without Borders uses a similar product in Africa called Plumpy Nut). One week i decided- I had enough food in my house and sent the $20 I'd have spent in groceries. Soon- they raised $50,000. In like 6-8 weeks or something insane like that. I have no idea how many kids that will cure of death Kwashiokore- but it's ALOT.  At first i wondered if it were too much. And then --just one day last week there were another 250 kids suffering at the door.  It is incomprehensible. I can't even begin to comprehend it.

Anyway-- that isn't why I was introducing you to the Haiti program. I started typing down this path because much of the links and photos I have to share are from Haiti and that program.  Here is a group of 4 children with progression photos:


Look at the transformation!! AMAZING!!  Although in pictures they look like over fed fat healthy babies- they are closer to 2 years old or older.  Malnutrition does that. You need food to grow.  Sadly, Gilderson passed away earlier this month, November 8th or 9th. As malnourishment causes decreased immune system- its hard to tell why he died. It was sad and frustrating for his care givers who had such hope for him.

You read the facts. The signs and symptoms as defined by Wikipedia and University of Maryland. Below are links to 2 videos- where you'll see what it really means. The faces- the families- the children.

This one is from the rescue center in Haiti. You will notice, on Henrius' body, some of the scaring- I've been told that the Tman had some skin damage and may have scaring from the edema stretching and splitting his skin on his knees. This clip is factual and easy at first. But it gets harder and you may not want to watch the entire thing. Admittedly, I had a visceral reaction to it- so don't keep going if it gets too hard to watch.  But I thought it important to allow you the opportunity to see part of what this "Kwashiokore" really means and it's impact on a child. 

I have many postitive and upbeat things to chronicle-but this update was half written when my laptop had to go in the shop. (Diego's Arctic Adventure DVD decided to stay put-- and it took trained professionals a week and a half to remove him.)  So I promise some fun and exciting stuff soon!! 

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