Saturday, October 22, 2011
Meize Milk Clinic
On Fridays I drive out to a village outside of Pemba called Meize. Meize is my happy place. Every week 40 precious babies gather under the mango tree for a Milk Clinic run by Iris. The purpose of the clinic is to distribute formula to babies who cannot breast feed exclusively, because their mother has died or is HIV positive, or she does not have enough milk for whatever reason. Buying formula would be completely unaffordable and out of the question for these families. At the clinic we hang a scale from the mango tree and weigh the babies to chart their growth. Then Bridget (the missionary nurse) determines the formula and rice to be allocated to each baby.
One woman came to us last week with a two week old baby. The woman said she had no breast milk (she didn't) and the baby had lost 40% of its birth weight. Bridget asked the woman how many children she had. She told us that she had six babies, and had lost six babies. Each one of her babies had died. Six pregnancies, six labors, six funerals. It was the most amazing moment to watch the smile spread across her face as she was given a bottle and three tins of milk. Hope. Without the milk she would more than likely have had a seventh funeral that week.
This past week was really intense for me and I was flooded with a wave of nausea as we faced several emaciated babies covered in sores with blank, listless stares. My heart especially went out to the caregivers, fathers and sisters, who have just buried their wife/mother and now are fighting for the life of their baby. We have been talking in Mission School this week about what Good News means to the poor. Certainly to these families Good News can look like a tin of milk.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled"