May 08, 2009

Original Formula Post

Author Note: This article was originally posted on my blog on May 4, 2009. By Friday May 8, 2009, CHC had received all $12,500 to finalize this project. Children's HopeChest is no longer soliciting donations for this project.

URGENT NEED: Formula Needed for Malnourished Babies in Ethiopia

Famine and poverty are increasing the rates of malnourished infant babies in Ethiopia. Children's HopeChest has worked with the America World Adoption Agency (AWAA) on projects in Ethiopia and Russia over the past five years. This request came to us from their transition home where they are receiving severely malnourished babies into their care. This month, in honor of mother's day, I want to raise $12,500 to provide specialized baby formula to this transition home for these malnourished babies. 

To kick this off, a friend of Children's HopeChest has offered a matching gift for the first $500 we receive toward this project. [We met the match on day 1!]


A malnourished baby cries in his mother's lap at the Médecins Sans Frontières intensive care unit near the southern town of Sheshemene. Radu Sigheti/Reuters

A malnourished baby cries in his mother's lap at the Médecins Sans Frontières intensive care unit near the southern town of Sheshemene. Radu Sigheti/Reuters. [Tom's Note: This is not a child from AWAA's transition home.]

Here's a view from the ground from Duni, an Ethiopian woman working for AWAA at their transitional home:

Even though I grew up in Ethiopia, I never knew just how badly babies suffered from malnutrition until I returned to Addis and started working at the AWAA office there.   The children at our Transitional Home come from very remote areas. Their families are unable to feed themselves let alone their children and usually relinquish them to their local orphanage when it becomes evident their children will die if they don't.

It is hard to see malnourished babies, so tiny, with just skin and bones. I remember the first one I saw, we will call her Gracie. She looked like an old woman in a baby's body. She had big eyes that seemed so wise and testified to what they have seen in the short months Gracie has been alive. 

That was a few months ago, since then we have admitted many more babies in such condition.  And looking at Gracie today, I can't believe she is the same baby. I knew she was a beauty but it really came out once those cheeks filled up. She is still tiny but the pound she has gained in the past week has made a world of difference in her appearance. 

I look at the others and feel the same way I first felt with Gracie, dejection and fear that she may never make it.  The right type of formula for such babies is hard to come by. In fact any kind of formula is expensive and hard to come by. We have babies who need this today so we work tirelessly to get the best formula possible for malnourished babies shipped from the US.

It is not fair for a baby to have sad eyes like Gracie's or for a baby to cry out of hunger and not have that need met.

Worse yet, it is not fair for a baby to die because of malnutrition. And yet, that is what happens daily in Ethiopia.   Today, I am praying for the babies lying still in their cribs. I am praying I will see them feed soon (they are now on feeding tubes). I am praying that their tiny lifeless legs will slowly fill with flesh and will wiggle and play like normal babies do. 

Here's what we can do to help. CHC will raise $12,500 to purchase what is known in the U.S. as "Nutramigen" formula. This type of formula is necessary because traditional formula cannot be digested by malnourished infants.

You can participate by making a gift of any size. A gift of $30 will buy and ship one can of formula to the chidlren in need. Right now if you give $30 it will be doubled to $60! The first $500 we raise will be matched dollar-for-dollar. If we hit our goal, we can send 400 cans of formula to starving infants in Ethiopia.

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