A community health worker in Ethiopia
In April, I had the opportunity to attend a nutrition workshop in Ethiopia, in the heart of the Horn of Africa. It was organized by Nutriset, the inventor of Plumpy'Nut. As part of the experiential learning experience, a group of us visited a maternal/child health clinic in Addis Ababa. It was an opportunity for us to see how Plumpy'Nut is integrated into the community health programs.
The group first visited an exam room where children get checked for signs of severe acute malnutrition. While we were there, a little patient arrived, holding the hand of her mother: a two-year-old girl named Bethlehem. This energetic little girl with short hair and big, sweet eyes was wearing a jumper dress with bright chartreuse green tights and ruby red shoes.
We watched the doctor measure Bethlehem's weight-to-height ratio and the circumference of her mid-upper arm. The values were noted in her medical history. The doctor showed me in the large resister how after eight weeks of Plumpy’Nut, Bethlehem had successfully climbed out of danger into the normal range for growth. She would only need one more prescription of Plumpy’Nut—another 14-day supply. Everyone in the room was smiling. Bethlehem’s mother said, in her native Amharic, that she couldn't believe how much her daughter loved eating Plumpy’Nut.
Once outside in the clinic’s courtyard, I watched Bethlehem playing around her mother’s skirt, while they waited in line to have the Plumpy'Nut prescription filled by the clinic's pharmacists. Since I did not have my camera with me, I could not take photos of Bethlehem. Instead, I did my best to memorize the bounce in her step. I could barely take my eyes off the playful movement of her ruby red shoes. I wondered where those feet would carry her in life, now that the community health workers and Plumpy’Nut had made her healthy again.