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MaryBeth Lavin, Director of FormulaOneLife, shared this blog with her friends as she gets ready to leave for Ethiopia on July 13th. She and her associates are carrying formula into three orphanages over the next 10 days. MaryBeth is asking for ReadyMade baby bottles to be part of her future missions. We can only go with your help!
Brought to our knees
But the moment the door opened, the walls fall down along with all that you prepared yourself for.
Day #1-Visiting an orphanage with 140 infants/toddlers
I'm not sure which hit me first, the smell of urine and feces or the cries. The overwhelming emotions that I was staring at severely malnourished infants, that didn't have much time left. Just over one year ago I was holding our severely malnourished, wasting son, in Ethiopia. I had gotten there just in the nick of time.
But had we gotten there in time for these babies?
Infants too weak or small to hold bottles could not get their bottles because they had fallen next to them in bed. They were being fed by bottle propping. They lay their with their mouths sucking air.
They lay 2 tiny infants per crib, crying. Crying for milk, crying for someone to reach out and pick them up, crying for human touch, crying for mom, crying because they were wet, crying because they had needs that were not being met. If they survive their cries will soon stop, because they will learn over time no one is coming. Our son after only 4 short months learned that no one was coming for his cries. So now he has no emotion to the sensation of being wet in his diaper, when he wakes up from sleeping, he just lays there until someone comes for him, he waits to be fed instead of crying.
I will forever carry some of these painful images with me.
The image of an infant who was picked up by a girl in our group as he was trying to latch on, sucking on her clothes and air to get food.
The images of an infant staring at the wall lifeless, his sunken eyes, his skin hanging off him.
The images of taking off their jumpers and seeing their wasted legs, so tiny and small.
One infant had a hat on to keep his little head warm, but the tiny hat was too big for his head and covered his eyes, and the baby just lay there in darkness.
As we began to pick up the babies, I gasped every time at the extreme lightness of some of them. It felt as if I had just picked up a folded bath towel.
Normally infants hands have little chunky fat around their wrists and forearms. Many of these babies you could almost see their arm bone. Their skin hung off and there was just skin and bone.
Most of the infants lie in a dirty diaper that was so soaked that their blanket and bottom sheet were wet. We learned that only 2 diapers per day were allocated to each child. There was no mistaking or hiding the smell.
I was overwhelmed with extreme sadness when we used a measuring device called the "MUAC," it is used to measure the low mid-upper arm circumference, which is a useful measurement of malnourishment. I found myself in a room full of infants that looked just like they had been born premature, measuring their arms to determine if they were moderate or severely malnourished. Something was very wrong with this picture. How could this be? How could even such a measurement device exist?
These were innocent, defenseless, suffering infants. One after one, I began to feel as though I was measuring skeletal hands and arms, and soon you almost didn't even need the Muac.
I just want to take a moment to say a special thank you to those that donated towards formula, plumpy nut, diapers, and multivitamins. The infants are currently receiving powdered milk. POWDERED MILK! So your donations were so very very much needed. We were able to leave the orphanage with Premiee formula, High Caloric formula, Lactose-Free formula, Formula for sensitive colic tummies, and regular formula. We determined with the nurse the severity of theses babies nutritional needs, and who specifically would benefit from specific types of formula. We also identified with the staff the severe and moderate cases of malnutrition and identified which type of plumpy nut was needed for those infants. Sadly the number of severely malnourished, moderately malnourished, and those in need of high caloric formula was not a small number.
Donations of diapers were given, but the reality is, there are so many infants, that those diapers are not going to last very long.
I continue to ask myself, "did me make it in time?" I can tell you, even if we didn't make it in time for all those infants, we did make it in time for some. Without all your generous donations, we would not of been able to do what we did. Those that gave and sacrificially gave, gave to save lives. I Can't think of a better way to serve our Heavenly Father. THANK YOU!
We were brought to our knees, knowing this is no condition for any baby or child to live in or die in. We trust and know God is creater and maker of all. We do believe we are to be God's hands and feet here on earth. We could not have been His hands and feet without your generosity.
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."
-- Mother Teresa
We were not permitted to take photos in the orphanage and we did respect their wishes. It was an extreme privilege that we were even allowed to enter the gates.
Although we were not allowed to take pictures of these infants, I will leave you with some photos that are as close to some of the infants as I could find.
For allowing us to partern with you for our trip to Ethiopia.
A HUGE Thank You to Mark Gumm Africa Director for World Orphans
For opening our eyes to our brothers and sisters in need across the water, and for making our trip to Africa possible, (twice)