Over the past year, I have always wanted to add an education component to our formula program. I have been running this program since shortly after moving to Haiti, and although I very much enjoy running it, I fully realize that the program has more potential than what I can offer it with my limited Creole and lack of cultural experience. I knew that the best way to ensure that this program was making a lasting difference, beyond just the time the families spend in our program, was to hire someone to teach information that the participants could use not only for this child, but for any child they raise.
Thanks to a grant from Haiti Serve, today we had our first Formula Program Class! I was very nervous and excited to see how this would go. We hired Mary Lourde, the lady that teaches our prenatal classes to do it. I have honestly never sat in on these classes and had no idea how she would do.
I am excited to announce that she is AMAZING and defiantly the best fit for the job. She did so well today with all the guardians of our kids. She choose to talk about serum, which I thought was a great first topic since we recently had one baby pass away from Cholera and four others admitted to the hospital for diarrhea and vomiting. She discussed how to make it from scratch, when you give it, and for how long. At one point she even demonstrated how much water you would need by filling up two empty coke bottles with water and presenting them to the class.
I expected her to stand at the front of the class and just lecture the whole time. This was not her approach at all. She made sure everyone was involved in the discussion. Instead of just saying "this is how you make serum" she asked the class who knew how to make it. She then challenged them and asked where they received this information, if they actually do it just as they were told, etc. Mary Lourde spent time making sure that each participant spoke up at least once during class. She made great eye contact and just did amazing over all!
I was also nervous about what our parents/guardians would think of these classes. I didn't know if they would be accepting of the program or if they would be upset that there was now a hoop to go through to receive their formula. I should have known the value that Haitian put on education and realized that they of course would love to go to our little "school" to help them learn how to better provide for their babies. They were all very attentive and excited to be there. Many even thanked me for the opportunity to go!
There has been 3 families in our program for several months now that all live very close to each other. I have never once seen these families interact. However, today they all waited for each other after class and walked home as a group. By requiring them all to come at the same time and sit together, they are able to have fellowship and will hopefully build lasting relationships with each other. They will be able to lean on each other in time of need and have someone to talk to that understands what they are going through.
The only thing that didn't happen today that I expected to was prayer and singing with the our families. Mary Lourde does this with the Prenatal ladies but did not do it today. My assumption is that she choose to skip it since we started out with everyone signing contracts, but she agreed to do it next time! I am also excited because this will take this program from being just a humanitarian program to a mission program!
For so long I have felt like this program is just a band aid; helping a few people with the problem thats here and now. I have never felt like it makes a lasting difference in their or their children's lives (minus the benefits from the nutrition). Now however, I feel like we are teaching skills that these Moms, Grandmas, Aunts, Fathers, Uncles, Neighbors, and Cousins can take with them and spread to their community. Now if any of their kids get sick or any of their neighbors children, they will be able to offer appropriate advice on how to make serum and when it's necessary to give it to them. They will not only benefit from these classes, but their entire family and community could as well!
I have dreamed, talked about, and begged for these classes for a year now, and today I couldn't help but smile as I sat in the back of the class and listened to the discussions our families were having with each other and Mary Lourde. It's finally happening. So much has changed, and it was all from a one hour class. I can't imagine what is going to unfold over the next several weeks as these families continue to met, learn, and grow together. All I can say is I am looking forward to meeting with them all again in 2 more weeks to discuss whatever topic Mary Lourde decides to discuss then!
I love that COTP continues to do all we can to keep families in our community together! With out this program, many of these babies would have been admitted to our care, become extremely malnourished, or potentially could have even died. It's great to know we are able to provide assistance to these 13 beautiful children which hopefully will help them flourish in their parents home!
Please pray for Mary Lourde as she is teaching and leading these families, pray they are able to use the information she is providing them, that they create lasting friendships with each other, and most importantly, that their babies grow and thrive in their care!
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