How would you feel if your child was rejected from a research study for a life-saving new treatment because their condition was too severe? We believe no parent should ever have to find out how that feels. That’s why we are very happy to be partnering with Project Peanut Butter, USAID and the World Food Program (WFP) on an exciting research project in the Pujehun District in Sierra Leone.
When I was told I had the opportunity to travel to Africa with my Aunt Rachael, I was so excited. I knew she had been going for years, and I wanted to see the other life she lives over there along with her work. She is the head of ECF and works tirelessly to help thousands of kids who suffer from severe malnutrition. Last year I served as the Youth Leader of the organization and we raised over $10,000 to help save more lives. I wanted to visit Africa to learn hands-on what it’s like to work with the children in the clinic and see what else I can do to help. I also wanted to see the beautiful sites and the culture.
Going to the clinic, I had in my head pictures I had seen from my friends who went on missions trips to help orphans, where all the kids were happy and playing. The clinic was nothing like that. Although the nurses were really nice, I guess nobody is ever happy about being sick and having to go to a clinic.
The clinic is a neat, clean room in a building on a church property right outside the Msisi Compound, one of the worst and largest shanty towns in Lusaka. The first half hour was a little slow, but soon the moms and their children started to come in. There were cases of ringworm and cough, but those were easily treated with medicine they could take home. The malnourished kids were handled differently.Read more
After the clinic, we headed to the hospital where the complicated cases of severe malnutrition are referred. This was where one of the little girls I saw earlier at the clinic went. When she came into the clinic she was hanging on to her life by a thread. She was 27 months old and only weighed 8 pounds. Like most people, I had seen pictures and video of the tiny babies that are just skin and bones, but there’s nothing that could prepare me to see it in real life. Her frail body was moving so slow, and her little cry sounded like she was in so much pain. It’s impossible to really describe, but it was heart breaking.