Our Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes for severely malnourished children continue to restore hundreds of infants and toddlers to good health each year and to educate their mothers about nutrition and good child care practices. We now have six of these facilities scattered throughout the country. The main one in Kathmandu, which serves as a training and support center for all the others, is funded largely by the generosity of the dZi Foundation in Colorado. The capable and devoted staff has perfected the art of training illiterate young mothers in good child care practices.
This year, we will add three new facilities in remote parts of Nepal, some of which were inaccessible during the years of the Maoist insurgency. This is to serve the large number of mothers who cannot come to Kathmandu with their starving children. We are also starting a pilot program of nutrition camps in isolated areas. This will involve sending teams of medical personnel and nutritionists to examine the local children, show the mothers and other relatives of the children how to prepare nourishing supplements made of locally available foodstuffs, and refer very malnourished children to the nearest NRH for rehabilitation. Then we will conduct two follow-up camps to assess the effectiveness of our approach. Such a program is much needed, since half the children younger than five years of age are malnourished, and this is a leading cause of death among this age group.
Nepal is a country of strong traditions, and these include traditions about child rearing. We have found that mothers we have trained in good child care methods at the NRH are sometimes unable to practice them when they return to their villages because the matriarch of the house – the mother-in-law – insists that traditional (and sometimes harmful) customs be followed. For this reason, our camps will also focus on educating the mother-in-laws who have such a powerful influence over the rearing of children.
Because this letter would not be complete without a few pictures of the thousands of children the NRH has restored to health, please see the links below.
To restore a malnourished child to blooming good health costs about $250, which includes an average of five weeks of hospitalization and training the mother in good child care practices to be sure that the problem does not recur.
From January 1, 2006 to August 31, 2006, 129 children were restored to health at the NRH (75 boys and 54 girls) and their mothers trained in the principles of nutrition and childcare. The cost per mother/child pair was $264.78. Eighty-six percent of the children were under five years of age.
The health problems of the mother and child were addressed during their stay at the homes, so that both mother and child were in good health when they were discharged. Our field workers are in the process of following up to assure that the children have maintained normal weight and health and that the mothers are teaching other mothers in the village what they learned at NRH. The field staff performed 98 first follow-up visits, 90-second follow-up visits, and 96 third follow-up visits during the first eight months of the year. This necessitates visits to remote villages in hard-to-reach areas, sometimes requiring a very long walk from the nearest road.
Immunization program: The large majority of children who come to the NRH from rural villages have not been vaccinated. They and the mothers who come with them and who are pregnant receive DPT, tetanus, and measles vaccinations. In addition, due to the generosity of a donor in the United Kingdom, the children at the NRH are also vaccinated against hepatitis B, mumps, and rubella.
The British Embassy’s Charity day: Each year, the British Embassy in Kathmandu chooses a local charity as a volunteer project for their staff. This year, they chose the NRH. They painted six of the rooms in bright colors, provided toys, and donated carpets for the playroom and the nurse’s room. While they were working on improving the building, some of the embassy staff took the mothers and children to the zoo – an amazing experience for these remote villagers who had not imagined such a place existed.
You can also click below to read the NYOF Spring Newsletter!
Hello from Kathmandu,
Spring has sprung here, the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and the weather is pleasant since the rainy and buggy monsoon season has not started yet.
Best of all, the country seems to be at peace after a 13 year bloody insurgency. The Maoist revolutionaries have come in from the cold and joined the government, and although things are far from settled, the tourists are back, and the long-suffering Nepali people have a reason for optimism.
So has NYOF. I tell you, it's hard to be pessimistic about the human condition when you are working with kids in Nepal. There is such a tremendous opportunity here to help children, not only in improving but even saving their lives. We do this frequently at our Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes, where severely malnourished children are nursed back to health and their mothers trained to care for them.
The conditions under which some of Nepal's children live are hard for us in the western world to imagine. Take the case of a ten year old boy named Mim. He lived in a very remote area of Nepal, without roads or electricity, in an impoverished household with disabled parents. Mim was the oldest child in the family and his parents were eager to educate him as their ticket out of poverty, but the nearest school was two or three hours walk away. So they listened to some slick and unscrupulous fellow who told them that if the parents could pay for his air ticket to Kathmandu, he would take Mim along and place him in school in the capital. (Hundreds of children in Nepal have been the victims of this racket.)
Instead, he abandoned the boy in a children's home which was appallingly awful. Mim contracted Japanese encephalitis while he was living there. He was finally taken to the only general children's hospital in the country, where his condition deteriorated rapidly. Someone called his parents to tell them that their son was dying, and an uncle was dispatched to be with Mim. After 26 days in the hospital, the doctors decided that nothing more could be done for Mim, and they asked that he be moved.
The staff at the NRH was called to the hospital because, among other things, Mim was severely malnourished. They thought they could save Mim even though he was virtually unconscious, covered with the most terrible bed sores, and no one thought he would survive the most miserable child imaginable. He could not sit or stand or walk or talk and was in constant pain. He could only cry.
He was moved to the NRH, where his slow recovery began. The doctors and nurses, with patience and skill and love, saved this child?s life. After a couple of months, he was able to feed himself and to walk alone and, hard to believe, to smile again. Unfortunately, due to his illness, he cannot speak. The uncle told us that Mim would not survive if he went back home. There was no one to care for him, and the family would find it difficult to raise a child who could not contribute to their survival. So we have found alternate accommodations for Mim in Kathmandu. Our social work staff will check on him on a regular basis, and he will receive the therapy he needs.
I am not going to send you a picture of Mim as he looked when he was admitted to the NRH because it would make you too miserable. But I do have a picture of a smiling Mim. If you would like to see how he looks today, my staff would be happy to send his picture to you. Please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will e-mail you his picture.
Such are the satisfactions of life here.
Love to you all, Olga
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