Our troops arrive to the Chureca clinic at 9am sharp; our tank-like vehicle, the Patrol, is driven through the front entrance (which we hardly ever frequent) laden with the milk day goodies. The rest of the group walks in through the back entrance like normal and we unload everything into the clinic. Arlen, a little girl in the program, insisted on helping me carry in the bags of oatmeal. Her little frame could barely hold one bag while we carry 5 or 6, but seeing her willingness to help was so heart warming! The moms were in their weekly health talk put on by the ministry of health, and as we waited in the front of the clinic, we laughed and played with a few of the precious children running around with their dirt smeared bodies and ragged clothes. Heysell loved drawing on our legs and hands with a pen, while Arelys enjoyed taking pictures with my camera. I divvied up the duties for the day: a photo taker, someone who hands out the milk, a height/weight measurer, one person who records these measurements, and one 'messenger' who takes the mother and child to one of two consult rooms where Nikki, Mose and myself review the child's health and growth with the mother based on their weight and height progression over the past few months. Most kids are plagued by chronic sickness and a weight gain of even half a pound is a celebrated victory! We make sure the children are eating their milk, vitamins and oatmeal, and that if they've been sick or had diarrhea the past month, that they've seen a doctor at the clinic. Today a few children I saw currently aren't enrolled in school, which is a big no-no! I tried to encourage the moms to enroll their kids as soon as possible... we'll see if they start going or not.
Walking through the clinic, tracking mud from my boots across the white tiled floor, I was so encouraged as I glanced around and realized I knew all of the women and children filing through. We've been working so hard to learn their names, where they live, and their stories, and it seems to be paying off little by little. The women confide in us and trust us a little more each time we love and care for their beautiful children.
I love milk days,