This is my second entry today focused on poverty awareness for Blog Action Day 2008. My friend Craig Young is presently working with an NGO in Mozambique and is also heavily involved in the education sector. I asked him to share with us some of his experiences there dealing with poverty and some his thoughts on creating a solution. He is in a remote area and sent me this as a text. Much has been done to address poverty there, yet from the sounds of it, a lot more is still needed. Here’s Craig’s text message:
October 15th 2008: Today i visited the children’s hospital in Maputo …we took some bread and jam and milk and juice… just saw kids in one ward…many kids’ moms were with them but didn’t haveany real idea about care and attention for the kids………the floors were dirty and cockroaches crawling…the main desk nurse in the ward was sleeping at her desk it took me to yell at her after 10 min to wake her up… back to that later…We went into each room and talked to the moms and learned about the kids….they are avg 2 beds and some have 3 and one had even 5 beds in about 300 sq feet…this room had 5 kids and all kids’ families were there as they are local kids…crammed in there … hard on the kids…. the other rooms are non local from the ruralareas..moms were there only..sitting beside the kids beds all day and night… no regular nursing support…dirty floors soiled sheets with urine, chipped paint on the metal beds…no air con in the rooms and some had ceiling fans not much relief though in +30 heat….a few kids were in sheer discomfort … You just look at them and they cry like ‘for god’ssake somebody give me relief…’ and a few were so quiet and easygoing…little souls are they all. I managed to get one little girl to laugh with me who was actually the biggest ‘complainer’ and needed care but her mom didn’t even touch her or pick her up…most of these kids just in need of big loving…to help them heal… There’s a lot of ignorance about basic caregiving…let alone the proper environment for kids…at least its a place dedicated for them..that didn’t exist 10 yrs ago.
No staff, no skills, lack of nutrition and low hygiene are biggest needs…the meals the kids have are void of nutrition..they don’t get milk/protein or calcium or veggies etc. at all and they need this most….they get rice and little other nutrition other than when brought by family. Also the aids kids on antiretrovirals don’t get the extra nutrition they need to withstand the side effects of the arv drugs drugs which and harsh for the little bodies… if nothing else hygiene and nutrition are things we can do something about most easily…
The other thing i learned is tht there is no recourse or retribution if someone on staff is negligent in the hospitals…they simply don’t care…no recourse, investigations or anything..many pregnant moms lose their kids upon or after birth and don’t know why…but no one cares or questions…one of our drivers, benedito, and his wife lost their baby this way…frustration and lack of care and respect from the system…
Its amazing there is so much money in Mozambique but no where near enough is coming to the hospitals…especially the kids….
The key message here for me from Craig is that we (as in all of us) have a lot more work to do, and it starts with a willingness to be be deeply compassionate for, especially for those who are too young or weak to fend for themselves. If you personally would like to do more for children in Mozambique you can visit the SOS Children’s Villages site for more information.
Thanks for your great contribution Craig!