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.