Thursday, February 23, 2012

Meet my friend, Mary!

Meet my friend, Mary!

Mary was brought to our Jinja center from an outpatient program we run in Manafwa district...so home for her is pretty far away-about 3 hours north east of where she'll sleep tonight. She came with her Auntie last Friday and will spend the next few weeks working hard to recover from her severe state of malnutrition. All the while her Auntie will be loved, fed the gospel, and taught about the importance of good nutrition! The prayer is that physical healing will take place within Mary's fragile body and at the same time a heart change will take place within her Auntie!

The road ahead won't be easy (for either of them) but in just a few short days Mary has already improved in leeps and bounds! It's so encouraging to see the progress she has made so far! Makes my heart so overjoyed. When she arrived I was a little nervous. Mary suffers from a protein deficiency kind of malnutrition called "kwashiorkor" which can sometimes be more fatal then that of a child who is literally being starved. Now you might ask, what is "kwashiorkor"?

Kwashiorkor: is a protein-energy malnutrition characterized by edema (swelling), anorexia, ulcerating dermatoses, and often an enlarged liver. Kwashiorkor is thought to be caused by insufficient protein consumption, but sufficient calorie intake. Unlike the more commonly thought of malnutrition: simply muscle wasting, Kwashiorkor is where your body actually swells. Due to lack of protein in the body, excess fluid builds up underneath the skin. It causes extreme amounts of pain and eventually straining all the vital organs-putting the child's life at risk. Sometimes we find that deep in the village parents will think that their child is just growing "fat", or they are led to believe by friends and family that it is a curse. Many misconceptions come with this condition. More often then not we have to convince parants that their child is indeed actually suffering from malnutrition.

Commonly we see the cause stemming from improper weaning off breast milk. Often when a new baby is born the older sibling is cut off from breastfeeding completely. Breast milk contains proteins and amino acids that are vital to a child's growth and development so when a sudden stop of nutrient intake occurs, and a diet high in carbohydrates/starches (deficient in protein) is started, Kwashiorkor is found at it's finest. When a child has been suffering from this condition for an extended period of time, often there is a lot of internal damage done that cannot be reversed. That's the scary part. Multiple organ failure is not always uncommon. So we have been praying for God to literally hold Mary's heart in His mighty hand. And He has been...

Day 1. Looking pretty sad…

Day 3. Seeing those beautiful eyes.

Day 6. A totally different child.

We have had countless children like Mary come and go from our house. And I'm sure there are many more to come. Be a part of their stories. Join us in prayer for the healing of these sweet lives! I can promise you will be forever blessed. I am.