The kids looked good this visit, aside from many having colds. None of the children were in the hospital, and they all looked like they have been gaining weight. Some still look malnourished and most are very small for their age (this is stunting, chronic malnutrition affects height). I really enjoyed being able to stay overnight this time, I didn't feel rushed and was able to spend more time with the kids. I also saw more of their routine for a whole day. The kids get porridge in the morning made with sourgum, soya and corn flour in the mornings, then warm milk (twice a day), they get lunch and dinner. This consists of whatever they have that month (which depends on their budget). We have been bringing formula and powdered milk up to the orphanage for 3 months now, so this has freed up some of the money available for food. They will eat food like rice, beans, fou fou (which is a thick paste that is eaten with meat, beans, or cabbage in tomato sauce), and occasionally fish or beef is they can afford it. There are vegetables in the sauces usually. There is a lack of fruit. Depending on the month and the amount of money they will sometimes only eat rice plain, or the fou fou alone. They nap after lunch. The babies are now fed more often, and I can see that many are gaining weight and strength. Some of the children are still grossly delayed given how long they have not had the proper nutrition.
They are sweet playful kids, though some still don't interact a lot but appear to be "learning" how to play. Little Chito is one of those learning! She loved the new crib toys we brought. I still couldn't get any smiles out of this little ones, but she was much more interactive and playful than when I first met her. When I first met her she was one of the babies who was left in her crib all the time, she shuddered when I touched her and just rolled her head back and forth in her crib all day. I don't think I will every forget the despair and hopelessness I saw in her eyes that day. She is sitting now, and I watched her interact with one of the older toddlers sharing her toy. That was good to see. It is good to see her sitting too, it means a lot less time in the crib. It is all tied together really. Better nutrition equals more strength equals the ability to sit equals more energy equals the ability to sit equals less time in the crib equals more stimulation, touch, and interaction equals increased development and felt love equals happier and healthier baby (which also gives the caregivers something and makes it a more reciprocal relationship, and the reality is that the sicklier weaker babies/toddlers are held the least). Really, one can start in any area I suppose, and I think that giving the kids food really speeds it all up. But it is so much more than only food. I think it starts the cycle, but without love, touch and affection, the children do not thrive. With love and affection (and food), what a difference in these children's lives!
Chito, 18 months old.
Bertin is 20 months old and just started walking. He was so proud of himself!