There are certain thoughts that keep me awake at night (aside from our two babies up there who are always on my mind). I should say, certain children keep me awake. For the last few nights it has been the kids at Kaziba again. I wonder what I can do to help. I have training, I am a pediatric nurse practitioner with a public health degree. I could probably raise resources. I may not speak the languages spoken there, but I can bring translators with me. I can find transport. I am here at this time for a reason. So, what do I do?
I brainstorm a lot with a good friend of mine here. Here are some of our ideas.
Without any other resources at this point- First, get the babies out of the cribs...held, sitting, rolling, on tummies! There are 13 month old there who weigh 10 lbs and who can't sit, roll, and aren't even great at holding their heads up for long periods of time. They rock in their cribs, they don't smile. There are 3 year olds who can't even walk. Their legs look very weak. This is probably due to long term malnourishment (if you don't get protein, vitamins and minerals-you don't grow or have strength) and under stimulation. Get the kids outside to absorb some of the wonderful sunlight we have here, even for 30 minutes. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets and poor growth.
With resources- Feed the kids, especially protein food and fruit. When we've been there the last two times, they have been getting food-but just plain rice every time. Buy more food and formula more regularly. I recently priced formula here. The container they sell here will feed a baby for four days if they get fed 24 oz a day and it costs $7.50. Multiply that by about 15-20 who need that and by 30 days and you have around $1000 per month, just to feed the babies. That doesn't include money to buy food for the rest of kids there, which would probably also cost $1000 per month. Hire more staff. Right now there are four mamas there during the day and 3 at night. This may seem like a lot, but remember there are 33 kids there, only 12 or so walk, and 8 more of them sit by themselves, the rest are in cribs. AND the mamas wash all the clothes (and nappies if they have them to use) by hand, which is time consuming.
There aren't many orphanages in the area of Congo. I know this because I have done a lot of research and traveling trying to see how orphans are cared for here. I know of three orphanages in the area. One is on an island! Katana is 1 1/2 hours away and doesn't take babies. Kaziba is 2 1/2 hours away and only takes kids under 5 years old (kids over 6 are put in foster care, they have about 85 kids in foster situations there). This orphanage receives babies from very far away, because there is no where else.
Finally, my mind is often on a little boy who is named Moise who is very sick up there. I wonder, is there some way I can help him. I'd be happy to buy the specialized therapeutic milk that is for severely malnourished children, but if it is given incorrectly or mixed incorrectly he could die. He is 10 months old and probably weighs less than 6 lbs.
We head up there again tomorrow. I will bring more formula. What else...what else?