Today through August 7 is World Breastfeeding Week!
Pediatric dietitian Connie Warner recently traveled with us to visit our maternal and child health programs in Kenya!
See how her experience lead her to ask, “How can I stand-up for the poor and vulnerable?”
… and how she plans to answer that question.
I felt my eyes close and I struggled to fight off the fatigue. I opened them again just a little confused as my body bounced up and down in a 4-wheel-drive Land Cruiser as it navigated over a dirt road full of large rocks and ruts. The people were wedged in the truck like sardines and next to me sat a local wearing a t-shirt with an orange World Vison emblem.
I am in Kenya on a Vision Trip with World Vision. My Vision Trip consisted of 9 U.S. faith leaders, 2 World Vision U.S. staff, and Christo Greyling, World Vision International Channels of Hope author. My husband David and I were honored to be a part of this trip.
Life is a journey and so is a Vision Trip. God showed me hope through the stories of his people.
After 3 plane rides and an hour and a half drive in a truck, I found myself sitting at a table in World Vision Karemo community in Siaya Township in Kenya. Up on the screen popped “Our Vision for every child, life in all its fullness; Our prayer for every heart, the will to make it so.” It felt like the words were speaking to me.
I listened as Bevalyn from the World Vision Kenya staff introduced World Vision’s MOMENT program—Mobilizing for Maternal and Neonatal Health through Birth Spacing and Advocacy. I sat up straight in the chair, my eyes were open wide, and I felt energized.
Maternal and child health is a passion and lifelong love of mine as I am a Pediatric Dietitian in Portland, Oregon. Over the past 30+ years, I have experienced how knowledge can empower families.
The Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy (HTSP) intervention helps empower women and families. Many factors influence a child’s health and development, and in Saiya, Kenya, spacing pregnancies has made an impact on families’ lives.
Elizabeth, age 20, smiled as she explained the hope she now has because she is educated about the benefits of spacing children; she feels she can now better care and provide for her family.
Elizabeth and David were married 4 years ago. They had 2 children in 2 years, no prenatal care, and home deliveries. These are risk factors for mother and child deaths. The second child, Maurice, had special needs and needed extra medical attention. Life was difficult for them.
World Vision’s Channels of Hope program brought hope to this family. The program trains local pastors over 3-5 days about Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (MNCH). They learn about the MOMENT program and how to carry it out in their community. Then the pastors take this training back to their local church where Congregational Hope Action Teams (CHAT) are formed.
When Elizabeth found herself pregnant with their 3rd child, the CHAT and community health workers stepped in to educate and guide her. She obtained prenatal care and delivered her baby in a health facility. Elizabeth learned about nutrition and breastfeeding—she explained how exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is important for her baby’s brain growth.
Maurice will continue to need medical, nutrition, and education support. I talked with the CHAT worker and Elizabeth about ways to use local foods to improve his nutrition and growth. Local World Vision staff are developing a plan to help this family.
Before leaving their home, we laid hands on this family and I prayed for them. Blessings for all!
Now David and I are home, and I ask myself, “How can I advocate (stand-up) for the poor and vulnerable?”
Psalm 82:3 (NIV) says, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.”
Of course we will continue to sponsor children. However, now we have a new action plan. We will ADVOCATE by contacting our legislators on bills and appropriation of funds. And World Vision will walk beside us in our new action plan.
Ending preventable mother and child deaths within a generation is not impossible. The Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015 (S. 1911) aims to do this by bringing proven, simple, and cost-effective interventions to the most vulnerable people and communities—while increasing transparency and accountability within the U.S. government. Send an email to ask your members of Congress to cosponsor this critical legislation!
Join us in helping keep mothers and children healthy! Sponsor a child in Kenya today.