Submitted by Mathew Porter
Today, 7th of August, Angela, Jane and Matthew (me) went, as arranged last week, to meet with the Fulani ladies. We also took along Nurse Lydia, a nurse from Volta River Authority hospital in Akuse whom we met last week when an outreach team made up of doctors, nurses and health educators who sometimes do outreach trips with VRA on the Volta lake came to visit the airfield and see what we were doing with MOM.
Nurse Lydia saw and heard what we have been doing and wanted to come and volunteer, and turns out was trained as a mid-wife and has nearly 30 years of experience in nursing.
The purpose of the visit was to meet the ladies of the Fulani camp, and introduce Angela, Jane and Nurse Lydia to the ladies. And also me, since some of the ladies who came out from parts of the community I had not seen before! We had talked about what end goals we thought should be achieved in the Fulani community eventually beforehand, so that we could decide where to go with things, and the two most important ones we came up with were that the community would be able to learn how to deal with minor injuries themselves, and some education - especially on personal health and hygiene, and general health education.
So we got the ladies together, Angela, Jane and Nurse Lydia started chatting to them to find out a little bit how they were doing, and tell them a bit about what they wanted to achieve with them, and within 15 min or so, they were getting on quite nicely, and they were beginning to find out a bit more about what their needs where. The Fulani women do not really get out very much as they are very busy around the home with the house, children and cows, and were very happy to all get the chance to talk to three ladies who were there for them.
The MoM team very quickly had the group worked out - and I was surprised when they pointed out to me that there were signs of malnutrition amongst the children. A few of them were a bit stunted and has signs of "redness" in their hair, an early sign of malnutrition, called kwashiorkor. It's not that these children are not getting any food, but not enough of the right foods for their growth and development. The children are breast fed from birth, but beyond 6 months, they are not being weaned enough and getting enough additional foods - in fact, some of the children are still being breast-fed at the ages of 1 1/2 and 2. Also there was not enough spacing between the children - women having children too close together - so some family planning would be on their timetable. A lot of the time, nutrition can be added from food already available used in the right ways.
We had been asked to come today by Alai, Amina's husband at around 1 or 2 pm today after milking, but when we asked the ladies, they told us that not all were there as they were still preparing wagashi from the milk collected this afternoon. So they told us that a better time to come and meet ALL the ladies and ALL the children would be....6 AM!!! So we told them to go and talk together about what problems they were having, physical, emotional, and the next time, Angela, Jane and Lydia would try and talk and help them with it.
As we were winding up, a few of the older ladies came along after finishing their own chores to see what was going on, and were happy to hear about it as well - so the word has spread, and next time, ALL the women and children will be there, and we can really start helping the Fulani community to help themselves.
It was really nice to see that Amina's thumb was fully healed and she is back to making wagashi to feed and fund her family. The MoM team all purchased some wagashi to take home - which added interst and benfits to all parites... The ground MoMmers are changing lives one visit at a time!