Monitrices—Our Hope for the Future

A New Life for Djego, Affected by Acute Malnutrition

Rose Andrè monitors the health and nutrition status of all children under the age of 5 in the area of Bel Jacques, where she lives. While out on one of her routine house visits, Rose Andrè saw Djego, a severely malnourished boy whose condition was becoming worse. At age 21 months he was extremely tiny for his age and visibly wasted. He could neither walk nor stand and had very little energy. Djego was suffering from severe acute malnutrition with complications, and needed to be transferred to an inpatient facility immediately. Djego’s mother had died a few months back and his father left to go to Port au Prince in search of work. He was left in the care of his grandmother who was not physically able to take him to his weekly appointments at Children’s Nutrition Program of Haiti’s treatment center, let alone all the way to the inpatient facility in Petit Goave.

“For 17 days, Rose Andrè stayed by his side day and night to feed, care for, and love him.”     

Rose Andrè knew that without proper treatment Djego could die, so she decided to take him to the center herself. After hiking through the mountains of Oranger, taking a motorcycle taxi, and then a tap-tap (a brightly decorated bus), Rose Andrè and little Djego arrived at the stabilization center on New Year’s Eve 2014.

Djego was admitted and treated. For 17 days Rose Andrè stayed by his side day and night to feed, care for, and love him. Once released, Diego and Rose Andrè returned to Bel Jacques together where she continued to look after him. Although healthier, Diego still required weekly appointments at CNPH’s outpatient malnutrition clinics.

Rose Andrè grew deeply affectionate for Djego and she hoped to continue caring for him, but Haitian social services required that he return to his grandmother. His malnutrition worsened, and he came back to the hospital.

“At 25 months when he was discharged from the treatment center, Djego weighed 14 pounds. At 27 months he weighed 19 pounds!”                        

This time, another monitrice, Marlyse, stepped in. With eight children of her own and two grandchildren, Marlyse didn’t have a lot of time on her hands for a malnourished baby. But she made time. She took little Djego to Petit Goave and stayed with him for 11 days. Then she brought him home and, with the help of a nearby CNPH outpatient treatment center, she nursed him to health in less than two months.                   

Djego continues to stay with Marlyse, and he is like one of her own children now. At 25 months when he was discharged from the treatment center, he weighed 14 pounds. At 27 months he weighed 19 pounds! We believe Djego is now almost three years old. He walks, but still has trouble communicating, an effect of severe malnutrition. Everyone loves little Djego (we nicknamed him Koretino), and Marlyse and her family are working hard to bring him up to speed developmentally.                        

Our team encounters many vulnerable children like Djego, children who live in difficult situations arising from poverty, disease, and family complications. Their futures appear bleak and their lives predetermined. But we have hope. Stories like little Djego’s, and his loving monitrices, give us hope for a future in which the cycle of disease and poverty is broken.    

The Haitian People Are Resilient

The Haitian people are resilient, but the worst storm to hit the island nation in 50 years has been hard on its people. In the region of Leogane, the mountain communities were hit the worst.

Our staff member Meti Vilus on his way to get WASH kits to monitrices in the mountains.

Our network of community health workers called monitrices have been working to take care of their communities. Because cholera is one of our first concerns, our monitrices have been making sure people have access to clean water and taking the right precautions to prevent this awful disease.

With money invested in CNP since the hurricane, we have been able to distribute WASH kits to many citizens to ensure safe drinking water, and continue educating about proper hygiene.

A field of banana trees in Leogane that has been flooded and destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.

 

The more pressing longer-term concern for us is food insecurity. Our monitrices have reported that banana fields have been flattened, livestock gone, and food costs rising due to the lack of availability. Many villages have reported the loss of Kongo bean crops, which were due to be harvested in October and November. These crops are many families’ primary source of food and income.

Both limited food and financial resources can result in the diminution of nutrition status. It can also mean a family doesn’t have enough money to send their children to school or seek medical treatment.

Monitrices are monitoring kids in their areas everyday for any signs of malnutrition, and many have reported a number of children losing weight after the storm. If we find malnourished children, we put them in our rehabilitation program using a therapeutic nutritional supplement made from local peanuts to bring them back to health. We also educate the mother or caregiver about proper nutrition and where she can find and produce proper nutritious food economically.

These are very tough times for the Haitian people.

They are no stranger to catastrophe, but these types of events like Hurricane Matthew put a strain on their resources. CNP has made so much progress since 1998 fighting childhood malnutrition; we are working to ensure the work we have accomplished with your help does set us back in our mission. Because of the food insecurity issue, our monitrices are doubling and tripling their efforts to ensure we are helping raise a healthy generation of Haitian children.

Hurricane Aftermath

Hurricane Aftermath

On October 4th, Haiti was struck by the most powerful hurricane to reach its shores in 50 years. 

Since that day Children’s Nutrition Program of Haiti has been on the ground, working with families who are making their way forward to long-term recovery. 

Homes were destroyed, agriculture devastated, and water supplies compromised, but people in the Leogane region are slowly recovering from the immediate damage from Hurricane Matthew.