We also spent more time with the local villagers. This is my favorite photograph from the morning - the expression on the face of the little girl looking up at Kylie is precious.
Our next stop was to tour the facility of a ministry called PB&J - Peanut Butter & Jesus. This ministry was formerly part of Nkhoma Hospital and a ministry partner of Y-Malawi that has since established itself as its own entity as it works to meet the standards required of them by UNICEF. PB&J exists to help fight malnutrition in young children, a widespread problem in Malawi - especially when the country experiences droughts and they fail to produce enough crops to meet the needs.
When famines happen, families are forced to ration their food. I was surprised to learn, however, that rather than dividing the food equally among family members so all may eat, they instead feed the family beginning with the father (since he needs strength to work and support the family), followed by the mother (since she has to care for the children), and then the oldest children (since they have survived the longest). If there is food remaining after they have eaten, the youngest are fed. Sadly, there often isn't enough food and as a result the youngest suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition. If the children become ill or frail enough from malnutrition that they are brought to Nkhoma Hospital or a village clinic for treatment, the fortified peanut butter packets made by PB&J can restore them to health.
PB&J makes a mixture of locally grown ground nuts, palm oil, brown sugar, and vitamix...
...and packages it in single-serving size pouches.
One box contains 150 pouches, which can save the lives of two children. The cost for each box is about $60.
From PB & J, we visited Nkhoma Hospital. Nkhoma Hospital has male and female wards with 26 beds each and two pediatric wards. The missionary administration is working to turn the hospital over to Malawian doctors by 2018. This is the mission statement of the hospital painted on the wall inside the entrance.
About 15 children are born at the hospital each day and many are born premature. There are no warmers for the premature babies, so they lie on the chests of their mothers for warmth. The goal weight for sending premature babies home is 4.4 lbs but the hospital usually cannot accommodate them that long. If the babies are nursing well, they are often sent home weighing only 2-2.5 lbs. Here is our Director of Missions, Ted Grueser, holding a premature baby.
Nkhoma Hospital is a pay hospital. The hospital doesn't provide linens or food service, so it is up to the patient's families to provide this care. This was taken outside the hospital where patient's families live while their loved ones are hospitalized.
In 2012, there were twelve children admitted to Nkhoma Hospital with malaria per day. Today, that number has been cut in half thanks to the efforts of Nkhoma Hospital and organizations like WorldVision working to educate the Malawian people and employing prevention measures like the distribution of mosquito nets and a village spraying program. This little boy was admitted one month before this photograph was taken with Y-Malawi President, John Gash. Fighting malaria, pneumonia, and malnutrition, the staff didn't think he would survive, especially since he was unconscious for more than two weeks following his arrival! The smile on his face speaks volumes about the tireless dedication of the hospital staff and the healing they seek to provide in the name of Jesus.
Up next, Nkhoma Youth Department.
Mulungu akhale nanu (God be with you),
PS - If you are interested in sponsoring a child through WorldVision after reading about what God is doing in Malawi, please let me know. This week they provided me with sponsorship forms for children in Nkhoma/Chilenge. Y-Malawi church partners may sponsor more than 5,000 children already, but there are still more than 4,000 on a waiting list. Who knows? Maybe you'll sponsor a child and we'll travel to Malawi together next year to meet him or her! Pray about it.