Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Machaka Orphange

We have moved into our residence at St Theresa's Hospital and are in the process of getting all settled in for the next few months. The whole crew is here, nursing students and professors and the entire nutrition team. The professors for both nutrition and nursing are leaving at the end of the week so it's been great to get to spend at least a few dinners around a giant table together. My nutrition professor Jen absolutely loves cooking so she's been feeding us well! A little too well I'm sure.

We had our orientation here and for 376 Canadian dollars, we are getting a place to live for 11 weeks, someone to do our laundry daily, wash our dishes daily and clean the entire apartment daily, and a professional chef who is going to cook all 7 dinners for us. Talk about a bargain! I am going to be spoiled! Going back to Canada where I have to clean up after myself nad do my own dishes is going to be rough! Talk about reverse culture shock!

Today we visited Machaka, an extremely poor village that has an amazing orphanage in it run by the sisters from St Theresa's. In the morning we fed the babies this awful ugali mush with greens and played with the babies. We're working on improving the mush because it's not exactly ideal baby food. Then we played with the school children during their recess. The school kids are 5 and under, so we sang and danced and did the hokey pokey for a while. The school kids get 2 meals at school; porridge in the morning and githeri in the afternoons. Since the area is so poor, this is usually all these kids get to eat all day, when they go home there is not enough money in their homes to feed them. They also are usually home alone for the entire afternoons, and as a result they were all desperate for attention and skin in skin contact. They all wanted hugs and to be picked up and cuddled.

I learned today that I am a horrible baby feeder. In fact, I got fired from feeding a little 6 month old baby girl today. First of all, the mush they feed the kids has a very low calorie density, so in order to meet their needs they need to eat more than should be able to fit in their bellies. The orphanage is understaffed so they need the babies to eat a lot to a time because they don't have time to feed them as often as they should and the porridge they feed them isn't exactly 100% appropriate anyways and is likely hard on the tiny baby bellies. So my baby wasn't really wanting to eat very much and eventually fell asleep between attempts at getting her to open her mouth and eat the stuff. So I figured she had decided she had had enough and I should let her sleep, but then the nurse looked at me, looked at the mostly full porridge bowl and then just told me nice try but she'd take over. So apparently I was supposed to wake the baby up to force feed her. Next time we visit, we are going to do data collection on the recipes for the porridge and githeri and analyze the recipes for nutrient density and all that fun stuff. Hopefully in the near future we'll have some recommendations for the orphanage to make the porridge a little more appropriate for the babies and the lunch a little better for the nursery school kids.

We moved the treadmill into the compound today as well as a stationary bike so I can finally stop being a sloth! I'm trying this new barefoot running thing so my feet are a little sore from today's run but I'm hoping that by the time I get home I'll be a speedy barefoot honorary kenyan runner!

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