“Katho and Singo were their names, typical for twin babies born in the Bira tribe. Samaritan’s Purse evacuated these babies with their mother from their home and brought them to our feeding program. Their 17-year old mother was too weak to walk to the vehicle and needed to be carried. Motherhood is supposed to be a joyous time, but this mother’s expressionless face said it all. For this mother having babies was the biggest hardship of her life. Alone at home with their grandmother to care for them, they simply could not make it on their own. As I welcomed the twins and their mother to the hospital, I had tears in my eyes. As always I say, “We are so happy that you have come to the hospital.” In this case I knew that we had received this family just in time. They would have died had they stayed at home. Time was of the essence. Expectant with our first baby at the time, I felt the pain of this mother deep in my soul.
Over the next three months we worked slowly on feedings, treating infections, and providing for the nutritional needs of the whole family. Mama Ruth cooked nutritious meals for them and the children received 5-grain porridge and therapeutic milk. Slowly but surely all three of them were gaining weight. They began to smile again.”
After returning home the twins had regularly follow-up in the community with an outpatient nutritionist named Rachelle. They had to be re-admitted about 4 months later due to poor weight gain. We know that the social situation to which the children return is not ideal and we often see returnees. We opened our arms again, saying Welcome, we are happy you have returned. As a hospital nutrition program we are not able to solve the myriad of social problems, rather we carry (literally!) people through difficult times. We are seen as a safe place, a shelter, even a community of women who support each other.