"We are in a meeting, it is almost over."
"OK sorry. I'll just wait outside of the..." she hung up before I could say office.
An hour later...
"Hi, how are you?" I asked the nutritionist.
"You refused to come to the meeting and it was about infant feeding" she said, shaking her head. Huh? Didn't know I was invited.
I immediately sensed something was different in the PEM ward today. It seemed oddly empty and I realized Udadisi's crib was missing.
"Where is uuud..." I stopped myself from saying 'Udadisi', "the abandoned girl".
"I don't know, I'll ask." Mwanafunzi turned to a couple of nurses and spoke to them in Kiswahili. "She has been taken" he told me.
"Taken where? To an orphanage?"
"A well-off family has taken her." I didn't even get to say bye. I'll really miss her, but I know it's for the best and I'm glad she has found a home.
Mwanafunzi and I interviewed the mothers of the remainder of the children in the PEM ward today. We have spoken to 15 of 18 children admitted since I started my research. I'd say that's a pretty good sampling so far.
Mwanafunzi got really upset with one of the mothers we interviewed last week when he found out that she never went to school and her oldest child, who's seven, has never been either. He had to walk away from her and into the other room. "How can they not be in poverty if they don't go to school?" he asked me, fuming.
We spoke to who we thought was the mother of a two-year-old girl until we found out the woman is over 50 years old. It turns out she was the child's grandmother (who has eight children of her own) and has been caring for the malnourished child and her four-year-old sister for over a year and a half. It was at this time that the mother of the children left as well as the father, who is the grandmother's son. One of the interview questions we ask when people have other children who aren't at the hospital with them is whether someone is caring for those children at home. She told us no one was at home looking after the four-year-old and she has no way of contacting her. She wasn't sure the malnourished child would be admitted when she arrived at the hospital and didn't expect to stay long. Immediately after the interview we went to check the files for the child's admittance date...they've been here for over a month! When I found out I was about ready to jump in my car and track down the girl myself to make sure she was alright. Its been two days and it's still really bothering me.
Today, for the first time, I saw the severely malnourished girl up and walking around. She was joined by another child who had formerly been malnourished and suffered from edema. Today she was dressed in a macaroni orange silk dress. She looked like a little princess walking around the hospital ward.
Dorcas and the contractor were supposed to assess the classrooms at Kathithi Primary for a resurfacing project while I was at the hospital. When I returned they hadn't left yet, so I was able to go. At the moment, twelve out of 16 classrooms are cemented, the rest have dirt floors.
One boy raised his hand, "What is an oven?" Opened up a whole new can of worms. I drew one on the board and explained what it's used for. The teacher stepped in and offered another explanation, which I was thankful for. After that they seemed to understand.
We had extra time at the end of class, so I started answering some questions in the Question Box. One student asked "(1) IF YOU DOUN'T HAVE BAKING SODA, SALT WHAT WILL YOU DO?"
"OK, lets take a poll. Heads down, eyes closed! Raise your hand if you have salt at home." Everyone raised their hands. "If you don't have baking soda, that is OK, don't worry, everyone in the class has salt and you can use that." I explained one way to brush with salt and water and then the teacher explained another. At the end of class Dorcas and I handed out a toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste to each child. For some it may have been their first.
"when we share brush teeth what wound happen"
"IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY OF SPREADING CAVITIES?"
"If you don't use WET tooth brush what happens." I answered this question in class and told them it is very hard to brush your teeth with a dry toothbrush because all the toothpaste will just stick to the inside of your mouth. Also that the water helps whatever you're brushing with to move around and cover all of their teeth. I told them if they really wanted to know what would happen, they could go home and do a "science experiment".
"when you have a cavities in your teeth how can you close it?"
"WHAT causes ENAMEL"
A few students asked about gingivitis and bleeding gums which I hadn't mentioned in class. I think a lot of them understood today's lesson so well because they had some background knowledge on the subject.
That night I tested out my Halloween craft idea on Alexia to see if the kindergartners will be able to do it at SOS next week. It worked out, so they'll be making paper plate masks to wear trick-or-treating around their classroom!