“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
One of quieter but important positions with Mercy Ships is the nutritionist. Brenda Howson’s job is to assess patient’s dietary needs and then work with the cooks to ensure patients are getting well balanced meals. In addition she runs the Infant Feeding Care program, the primary purpose is to fatten up babies for surgery but in doing so teach the mom’s how to feed their babies correctly and to assess when supplemental food needs to be introduced. Most of Brenda’s work takes place in the tents on the dock before the children are admitted or in the hospital, but there is one special outreach she does too.
The Baby Creche is a government run orphanage for babies who have literally been left on the street, these babies are malnourished and starved for love and individual attention. Brenda is working with the most malnourished of the bunch. She has introduced a wonderful supplement, Moringa, and has been educating the Madame’s on feeding. The progress is slow going with setbacks like illness, cultural differences, complex digestive problems, etc. But there is still progress.
I was able to be on one of the firsts visits to the Baby Creche back in August and my heart broke seeing such fragile and neglected babies, their legs were nothing more than bones with a thin covering of flesh, their eyes hallow and lifeless and they looked burdened by a weighted life too heavy for their little hearts.
Coming back in January and seeing healthier, happier babies who now laugh and smile and play. My heart was full. They still are underweight and still have a long road ahead of them but they are on their way and if in five months we’ve seen this much progress because of the faithful care from Brenda and the loyal crew who visit twice a week to simply hold and love them I’m excited for how much healthier they will be in the next five months.
Malchiat in August and Now
Not all of us are surgeons, nurses or caregivers but we can all love and be a part of healing a precious life.