Thursday, September 27, 2007

Makuni laughs!

Makuni has made noticeable improvements though he is still very malnourished and continues to need much prayer and love. Last Friday when I visited, the edema (swelling) in his eyelids had all but disappeared and his eyes were open and he was looking around, alert and interested in what was going on in the bed next to him. He was also holding a cup of milk and drinking it himself. This may sound minor for a 4 year old child, but the previous week, he'd been too weak to hold his own cup and we'd been feeding him milk spoon by spoon. Then on Tuesday, I found him sitting outside on the veranda with his father. Its been very hot here in the afternoons so I was glad he was getting some fresh air. He looked up at me with his large, sad eyes. I had brought a small green rubber ball for him, though I'd been reluctant to give it to him because he can't chase it. He is too weak to walk and spends most of his day sitting up in bed - with no back rest. Anyway, I gave the ball to his father, who gave it to him, and he looked at it and then smiled. No actually he laughed! It was the first time I've ever seen him laugh or smile. He continued to look at it and chuckle to himself with glee. Then he rolled it back and forth between his skinny outstretched legs and began playing happily with it.

I know that Makuni's improvements are evidence of God's love for him and a reflection of the many prayers that are being offered up on behalf of him and his family. THANK YOU. Please don't stop praying. Makuni has a long way to go before he becomes a healthy 4 year old. Continue to pray for his appetite to increase and for him to receive healthy, calorie-rich foods, and pray particularly for healing for a terrible wound he has on the top of his left foot where the skin has been eaten away - a symptom of extreme malnutrition - exposing red, raw flesh.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Motherless Makuni

Meet Makuni, a 4 year old boy who weighs just 8.5 kilos or about 19 pounds. He has an enlarged head, bloated stomach, and blotchy skin. His shoulder blades protrdue glaringly out of his back, his tiny body not more than skin and bones. He is from across the border in Congo and his father brought him to Nyahuka Health Center about a month ago in a severely malnourished state. Makuni's mother died sometime ago - its unclear exactly when and how but its likely Makuni's malnourished state has something to do with her death. He is cared for largely by his 10 year old sister, Annet, (pictured with him) and although his father stays with him at the health center at night, frequently during the afternoons when Stephanie and I tend to visit, he is noticeably absent.

Please pray for this little fighter! I first learned of him when Jennifer asked for prayer for him at one of our team meetings and then I discovered him one day early last month in the new pediatric ward when I was visiting the daughter of one of our Kwejuna mothers. He was sitting up in bed - alone - and crying quietly. His eyes were large and sunken and sad. In recent days, he has taken to keeping his eyes closed most of the time. When I first saw him with his eyes closed, I feared he'd gone blind, but when I gave him a small teddy bear to cuddle on Thursday, he felt it, then opened his eyes and screamed in fear. An unexpected response, but a good sign. He can still see! However, its likely he doesn't have the muscle strength to keep his eyes open all the time, but he continues to hang on. He doesn't talk but but responds to yes/no questions and seems quite aware of what is going on. We're giving him high energy milk - a mixture of boxed whole milk, diluted with a small amount of water, and a small bit of oil and sugar, and though he is largely spoon fed at this point, he takes the milk drink with relish. Another great sign. He is not rejecting food and has an appetite. Yeah! (Sometimes kids at this advanced stage of malnutrition lose all interest in food.) We've also provided his father with eggs but its unclear whether Makuni himself is getting them to eat.

Please, please pray for this child, and pray for this family. They are grieving the loss of their wife and mother, and struggling to care for a very sick child who needs to be fed small amounts 6 times a day. It is laborious and consumes much energy, and we see signs of them tiring of this. But we know God loves this child and he loves this family. Pray for God to bring him back from the brink of death. Pray for this family to be encouraged and strengthened to continue to care for Makuni. Pray for the health center staff to have hope too. Our God is able to do all this and more.

Yummy, yummy to my tummy!

This past Thursday, we had our first ‘recipe trial’ to create the nutrient-dense paste. The product ended up more like a powder than a paste, likely due to how close the grinder’s steel burrs were to each other. The mixture of roasted groundnuts, soybeans, and moringa leaf powder was quite tasty! Keep praying for creativity and wisdom as we conduct more recipe trials.