By Karen Cooper
At Second Mile Haiti, a center where malnourished infants and children are treated through a unique, in-patient program, joy prevails over sorrow. In this little haven, severely malnourished children literally bounce back thanks to Plumpy’Nut and the comprehensive education their caregivers—mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and aunties—receive.
Here in the rural countryside outside of Cap Haitian in Haiti’s far north, babies who missed out on the normal milestones start to sit up or rollover for the first time. The cheerful sounds of cooing, gurgling, and giggles—once silenced by malnutrition—come back in a matter of days and weeks. Just more proof of every child’s incredible resilience and their innate determination to beat the odds.
An adorable 15-month-old little boy, Wiskensy, and his doting grandma, Vestha, had been at Second Mile for five weeks when I met them. As I watched this sweet boy gobble up his sachet of Plumpy’Nut (made locally by Meds & Food for Kids), I observed how his playfulness and alertness set him apart from the little ones who had just arrived and were only beginning their treatment.
I was told that when Wiskensy arrived he only weighed 13 pounds. The staff nurses confirmed that he was suffering from severe acute malnutrition, which is what Plumpy’Nut was designed to treat. Wiskensy’s grandmother let me hold him. My heart melted.
Two weeks after returning from Haiti, still remembering all of the difficulties that children face in Haiti, I heard the news that Wiskensy had graduated from Second Mile’s program. He gained six pounds, grew over an inch, and can now stand on his own without assistance, something he was unable to do before. His rust-colored hair, another indicator of malnutrition, is now a healthy brown.
When they say that Plumpy’Nut is a miracle in a packet, I now truly understand what this means. Wiskensy’s life is wide open with possibility again, something that made his grandmother (and now me) smile from ear to ear.