New Shoes for our Field Staff - Mèsi, Keen!
By Hayley Fallon, CNP Communications Fellow
Everyday our monitrices walk through the arid mountains, up and down rocky hillsides, and across rivers and streams to reach mothers and children in remote areas. Most of them were used to tackling the long distances in flip flops or ballet flats. Our friends at KEEN donated 100 pairs of their high-quality Evofit One hiking sandals so that each and every one of our monitrices and field staff can move through their zones safely and comfortably.
Below: Anecdotes from monitrice Rachelle’s first day in the field with her Keens.
It rained last night. My girl Rachelle used to dread going out on days after the rain; the slopes are more slippery, and the streams she must walk through are stronger, deeper, and dirtier. She risked losing a shoe every time she crossed one. But now she has me. Here’s a picture of us together:
No no, I’m not the one in the pink. That’s Rachelle’s daughter. How could she help Rachelle through streams? She is small and wears flip flops. Let’s see if I can find a better picture.
There, do you get it now? I am those blue things on Rachelle’s feet. Keen Evofit One, women’s size 10, to be exact.
Rachelle took me home three weeks ago, on what was to be the happiest day of our lives (she didn’t say it out loud, but I'm pretty sure the feeling was mutual). Since then, we’ve been inseparable. Rachelle lives in a particularly wet area, and she crosses streams and walks up and down slippery hillsides to reach children and mothers in remote areas and screen them for malnutrition. Before I arrived, she tackled the long distances in flip flops or ballet flats. My poor angel! We don’t talk about those days anymore.
Today we had a visit from Rachelle’s supervisor Viviane, and the Communications Fellow, Hayley. Viviane has some new Keens as well. Once they arrive, we head out to begin our work for the day.
House # 1 | Grandmothers and Neighbors
At the first house of the day, we come upon two older women – neighbors- hanging out on the porch with their grandchildren: a 13-year-old girl, a 10-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy, 4-year-old boy, and a baby about 13-15 months-old, whose parents have both died. One of the older women is the baby’s main caregiver. As Rachelle hangs her scale, the grandmother of the toddler turns to Viviane and asks, “When are you coming back to see us? We miss making meals together.”
She’s referring to Kore Timoun’s Hearth Program, a two week-long community-based project where Rachelle and Kore Timoun staff worked with women in the area to show struggling mothers how to cook inexpensive, balanced meals for their children. The woman and her friends miss the convivial get-togethers around good food. “Nap gade sa,” responds Viviane. We’ll see.
Rachelle weighs and measures the toddler and the 4-year-old and administers their quarterly dose of Vitamin A.
The other woman tells Rachelle that the 4-year-old (her grandson) has worms. Rachelle gives him albendazole, which will expel most any worm known to this area. She tells the grandmother to call if the boy continues to have problems. As is the case with every home we visit, they have our number; it’s written on the wooden siding of the house, right next to the front door.
House # 2 | Where The Action Is
House Number Two is a lively hotbed of under-12 activity. Approximately ten kids from the neighborhood are playing in the courtyard- running, rolling, and laughing. A kind-faced woman holding a sleepy toddler sits before the threshold of the house supervising the children while another woman tends to a pot over a fire just outside the kitchen hut.
Rachelle screens the toddler and a 4-year-old girl, who is grinning from ear to ear after coming by a 25 gourde bill.
Rachelle and Viviane then sit the mother down for a discussion about family planning. Part of their job is dispelling myths regarding health behaviors that still run rampant in the countryside. They assure the mother that the methods of contraception available to her are safe and effective, and she agrees to make an appointment at a family planning clinic.
House # 3 | Good News and Bad News
After a short jaunt across a stream and up a rocky slope, we arrive at the entrance to Marthe*’s land.
"Onè,” Rachelle shouts.
“Respè,” calls Marthe from inside.
As we coax Marthe’s shy middle son, Daniel*, out of his hiding spot, Viviane explains that Kore Timoun treated Daniel for severe acute malnutrition two years ago at an ambulatory clinic nearby. Rachelle lifts Daniel up to hang him on the scale and congratulates his mother on his progress. His measurements are well within the normal range for a boy of 4.
Next Rachelle screens Daniel’s seven-month-old brother. Sadly, the baby’s growth is not on track, and Viviane and Rachelle ask several questions, then have a long talk with Marthe about what he should be eating. They refer her to the nearest ambulatory clinic and schedule an appointment for her and the baby.
Rachelle is disappointed. This is the cycle she and the team are working tirelessly to break. When one child in a family is treated for malnutrition, the subsequent children have above average chances of being malnourished; infants, of course, are the most vulnerable. Nevertheless, if Daniel made it through, his brother can too. Marie Yolene, the nurse who runs the local clinic, has helped rehabilitate dozens of children in her four years with CNP.
House # 4 | A Pregnant Mother
No children here- other than the two neighbor kids hiding in the bushes, curious about Rachelle and her two friends. When we knock on the door, a pregnant woman answers and brings out chairs for her visitors.
Rachelle takes her mid-upper arm circumference and lets her know it’s within the normal range. The woman, who is now 8 months pregnant, has had one appointment at the hospital during her pregnancy. Viviane encourages her to have another before the baby is born. “There’s a reason God made doctors,” she says, and the woman agrees.
Rachelle asks the woman what she knows about breastfeeding, and the woman says she knows she must breastfeed exclusively until the baby is six months old. Rachelle tells her that’s a great start and explains that breast milk has everything an infant needs. She’ll be back when the baby is born to continue educating and supporting her.
Another Day, Another Six Children and Two Mothers Checked off our List
Finally, Viviane and Hayley decide to call it a day. While they make their way back to the moto-taxi stop, Rachelle and I run to buy them mangoes before they leave. We skip across three more streams and up and down paths inundated with mud to visit the mango seller and catch up to them. I can tell Rachelle isn’t used to being able to move this fast, especially with a ten-pound bag of mangoes in tow. We say goodbye to our friends and watch them wade through the river, which is raging today and reaches their thighs as they cross to the other side to hail a taxi.