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Infant Nutrition - lives in the balance.

Published Aug 9, 2009


We are in Lae again after three months in the bush. We are here getting supplies and trading visitors for about a week. Brief medical outreach story? I could tell you about the babies that have been coming for milk. Used to be the infants would die if mom wasn’t able to nurse them or if there was no one else to nurse them. Formula is unheard of in the bush. No bottles are available. Mothers are often malnourished themselves, and after having babies yearly, their bodies tire. Remember Caleb, Pastor James Naudi’s son? His mother died of typhoid. Matt and Becky were able to teach James about bottle feeding Caleb and he has done quite well. He is 4 now and you would never know that his life was in the balance like many of the Kamea babies. I have been doing a lot of teaching, one on one.


One little girl about 8 years of age came with her infant brother and father. They live in the bush, and there is no one to nurse the baby. The bag she carried on the top of her head held her baby brother. They had walked for about 5 hours to get to us, and sister was exhausted and in pain from walking barefoot carrying the heavy load. Mom had just recently died, and the baby was showing signs of severe malnutrition. Knowing that in this culture, the sister would be the main caregiver, I began teaching her the importance of boiling the water and how to measure. Equally important, the need to keep the bottle clean and throw out the formula after a few hours (or share it with the family pig). Dad was there during all the teaching. We do what we can. I teach and then try to follow up. Some come back for more formula, some do not. Hopefully those that do not return have realized how difficult it is to bottle feed an infant in the bush, and have found someone to nurse the baby. Each time someone returns for formula more education is given. Success stories abound! Some of the little ones would have died if not for the formula. My favorite story is a little one year old guy, who lives several villages away. He is adorable and eating sweet potatoes and greens well now. Our folks pay 3 Kina (about 1 dollar) for a can of formula, often I will trade their garden food for it. Below is a photo of one of the little ones that is just starting the “formula program”.

Thank you for thinking of us and praying! I’ll try to have more specific stories next time. We plan to be back in town again in November. Hope to hear from you.

With thanks and praise to Him,

Selina Allen

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