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.
At the hospital we met up with Dr. Pandey who is the head of the malnutrition ward. I learned so much from him in such a short period of time. Even if all the hospital beds in Zambia were used to treat severe malnutrition, there would need to be 5 kids in every bed. And there wouldn’t be space for anyone else with any other medical problems. That’s why getting RUTF to the children that need it through community clinics is so important. 1 out of every 3 children with severe malnutrition die, and those that survive without treatment have physical and mental problems their entire lives. Dr. Pandey is very passionate about this issue and it was clear that he truly cared about every child living to their full potential, which starts with simply surviving.
After Dr. Pandey explained everything to me, he took me on a tour of part of the hospital. Usually I’m fine at hospitals, but this was very depressing. Looking around it was clear they didn’t have the resources they needed to take care of all the patients. But it wasn’t until we made it to the children’s malnutrition ward that I got hit with the feelings of pain and sadness for the children laying in the beds. The ward was nicer than some of the other areas of the hospital, but many of the children don’t survive because their cases are so severe and there’s only so much they’re able to do at the hospital. I really felt like crying, but I managed to keep it together.
Overall, the day was an eye opening day for me. I was able to see a part of the world that is so opposite from what I’m used to. I realized, that no matter what struggles I’m going through, it’s not even close to what so many others have to overcome. I have a new perspective on everything. I know I can’t change all the problems in the world, but I know I can try and help others, instead of always thinking about myself. Although the day was really challenging and exhausting, I’m so thankful for … everything!