One of the most difficult things to see in Kenya is the suffering children. Whether it is from malnutrition, malaria, or worms, it is always a heartbreaking thing to witness. And working in the small rural villages of Kenya, you see many of these children.
I have one such story of a child that stands out in my mind. It was last week during a clinic at a particularly impoverished village in the Kakamega region. One of the duties that we perform as nurses at the clinic is filling out prescriptions. We receive a chart (a single paper) that states the patient’s name, age, presenting complaint, diagnosis, and finally the medication that has been prescribed. The chart indicates the patient’s vital signs including a weight if the patient is a child. Based on the weight, we calculate the appropriate dosage for each drug for each child.
One such chart came my way and I began to fill the prescription. I noticed the child’s weight was recorded at 4 kg or about 8 pounds, the size of a newborn. I rechecked both the age and the weight thinking there must be a mistake. I had noted during the last couple of days that the children we saw in our clinic generally weigh less than the children in Canada. But a one year old child weighing the size of a newborn, well that was just a little underweight.
I decided the most logical explanation was that the scale wasn’t working properly and it needed readjusting. I went to check the scale and found it to be in good working order. Perplexed, I walked back to the medication table. Then one of the other nurses pointed to a nun cradling a small child. It was the child that child who at 15 months only weighed 8 pounds. And what a little girl she was with painfully thin arms and legs. What a heartbreaking sight. This child was so malnourished she was unable to walk and didn’t move. She lay in the nun’s arms. She didn’t smile or even turn her head but just looked at me with large sad eyes.
When speaking to the nun, I found out that this girl’s mother had died and there was no family to care for her. It was only out of the goodness of the nun’s heart (and she was destitute herself), that this child had a place to live. We did the best we could for this small girl. I can’t help but wonder what will happen to her in the days and weeks ahead. Will she ever see her second birthday?
It is stories like these that confirm for us the reason we are here in Kenya. There is so much need everywhere you look and you realize how much work is yet to be done in Kenya.
I pray that God continues to bless the work that is being done at these clinics and I pray that he will be with the people of Kenya.