Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Cause..

I know that I had promised a new blog post that had to do with my up-coming half marathon but to be honest I have been struggling with first I wanted to put together a video highlighting the cause I want to focus on but there was something nagging inside me telling me that to do so wasn't the right felt like I would be exploiting the people who are already suffering enough...I'll try and explain..try to do it another way.. I last told you about Sarah Wallace, the midwife from Alberta who is currently working in Haiti. I told you about the different programs that she's established in her time there. One of those programs try's to help those in her community who are struggling to care for the nutritional needs of their children. Not only does she provide them with treatment but also with weekly classes on nutrition for the mothers of the malnourished children. On my first trip to Haiti I blogged a bit about the little starving boy who had come into our clinic and the impact he had on me. You can read about it here and here and here There were many things in Haiti that affected me but to be honest I am not sure any rocked me to the core like the malnourished kids..right to my core. There is no way to describe what it feels like to hold a starving child in your arms..there are no words...none.. Then a couple of weeks ago I came across this picture and finally learned the story behind it (or one version of it, as there are a few)

The picture was taken bythe South African photojournalist Kevin Carter in 1993, 0n a trip to the Sudan. The picture as you can see is of a starving child stopping to rest as she is supposedly making her way to a feeding center, a vulture waits to see if she will continue or if she will can imagine..(there is much controversy about the picture and the actions of Mr. Carter but I don't wish to discuss those here).

I have seen this picture before but it seemed to grab at me this seemed to haunt me and my thoughts..I found myself lying awake at night thinking how in a world with so many resources, such abundance do so many go to sleep at night so hungry, live each day on nothing....I thought about this exact scene and wondered how many times it has happened...I thought about all the hungry children I saw in my short time in Haiti, I felt guilty for having a full cupboard, fridge and stomach...

I had already decided to do the run and try and raise money for Sarah's malnutrition program when I saw the picture and all the thoughts and emotions that it provoked have motivated me so much more..

for me the picture tells it all...

In Haiti there are many reasons children are malnourished..I can hear those in the back of my mind talking about population control.."stop having babies because you can't feed them" and for those of you that think that I encourage you to read both Tara and Barbies blogs here as they explain so much better then me the "True reality" of life in Haiti for women and children...

Here's a few stats from the Meds and Food for Kids website

  • Malnutrition in Haiti is the result of many factors, including endemic poverty brought on by the nearly 80% unemployment rate, and primitive agricultural practices that prevent farmers from growing enough nutritious food to feed their families.

  • Haiti has endured centuries of political unrest, foreign occupations, corruption, and natural disasters, leaving the country weakened and families vulnerable.

  • Haiti’s literacy rate is only 50%.

  • The World Bank estimates that 86% of educated Haitians have left the country, looking for a better life and taking with them the knowledge their country needs to face its many challenges and prosper.

  • With an average household income of around $400 a year, 76% of Haitians live on less than $2 per day.

In her program Sarah uses a locally produced product called Medika Mamba (made by MKF in Haiti). Literally translated Medika Mamba means "peanut butter medicine" in Haitian Creole. It is what is called a "ready to use therapeutic food" and it is made up of peanuts, powered milk,oils,vitamins and minerals. It is easy to eat and therefore can be used for treating small children who don't have teeth yet. It does not need to be reconstituted thereby reducing potential of introducing illness through unclean water. It doesn't need to be refrigerated and Medika Mamba is made in Haiti by Haitians, using (wherever possible) raw materials from Haiti.

One typical treatment course lasts about 6-8 weeks, using about 25 pounds of Mamba at a cost of $65 pre course.

Two-and-a-half year old Marie-Ange was admitted to the Medika Mamba treatment program at the Haiti Rescue center weighing 13 lbs. Her seven-year-old brother, Ronel, and sister Wideline were admitted as well. Marie-Ange’s parents worked for two weeks to get together the $1.60 US, so they could have medical charts made for the children. After Medika Mamba treatment, Marie weighed a healthy 20 lbs and graduated from the program along with her brother and sister. (from MFK website)

I have seen first hand how amazing this product truly is saving lives. Sarah's program is saving lives..its keeping children from starving to death..its employing Haitians, its helping a country rebuild...I want to help...

I have set a goal to help 13 children. One for every mile of my run...that's $845.. I think I can do it..will you help me?

Addendum: Donations can be made via cheque to Olive Tree Projects Society or you can go to Olive Trees website and donate there online. Indicate that the funds are for the 1/2 marathon, Nutrition project.