Mariame works with our partner organization, The Lutheran Association for Development in Senegal (SLDS). The program also supports caretakers of children under 1 whose mother has passed away, a common circumstance in a country with a high level of maternal mortality. Giving birth is dangerous here, as is life in general.
I was sitting with Mariame in her office when Mrs. Gueye* came in carrying a small baby on her back. The child’s mother, Mrs. Gueye’s daughter-in-law, had died the week before during surgery at the local hospital. The baby boy was just three weeks old and now in the care of Mrs. Gueye. Without money to buy enough formula, Mrs. Gueye had resorted to using cow’s milk to stretch the formula she did have and, over the course of the week, the baby had fallen ill and was losing weight. When the distraught grandmother took her grandson to the doctor, she was referred to Mariame and the SLDS orphan program.
I listened as Mariame talked with Mrs. Gueye, discovering what had happened and what Mrs. Gueye needed. I watched as Mariame first showed her how to mix formula using measuring tools provided by the program and then how to properly clean the measuring tools. Mariame also instructed Mrs. Gueye to use water in mixing the formula, giving Mrs. Gueye two jerry cans with filtered water to use and explaining that well water is too dirty to use and will make a baby sick. Mariame invited Mrs. Gueye to return and refill the cans when she needed more clean water. After weighing the little one, Mariame sent them on their way, equipped for now to nourish the child safely and sufficiently.
Mariame has since told me that Mrs. Gueye and her grandson have visited her every month to pick up new formula and clean water. The child has become a well-nourished healthy baby boy and, once he is six months old, Mariame will teach Mrs. Gueye how to prepare age-appropriate porridges so he can slowly transition to solid foods.
Joys and Challenges
- In partnership with Youth With A Mission (YWAM), we started two Adolescent Health Groups in Dakar started in January, through which 56 young women are learning about health, family communication, and leadership.
- We organized the first Timothy Leadership Training in Salemata (Kédougou) for pastors and church leaders who work with Bassari people. The training focused on stewardship and how to approach domestic violence and the attendees were encouraged by the time they spent together.
- The staff of the Lutheran Development Services of Senegal (SLDS) Orphan and HIV/AIDS program are travelling a lot to do home visits while also trying to stay available to vulnerable people in town.
- The week before Easter, Esther and her daughter Johanna will travel for Esther’s “Connections Tour.” Johanna will go to school in The Netherlands until summer vacation; Esther will be in Canada and the US for speaking engagements in April before joining Johanna for study leave.
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