Lily Rose’s Diary: Part 1
Lily Rose’s Diary: Part 1
A long way from my comfort zone
My name is Lily Rose and I’m an intern with CARE South Sudan’s nutrition program in Pariang, Unity state. I’m from Magwi County in Eastern Equatoria, in the country’s south.
When the opportunity came to work with CARE, I didn’t hesitate. This is a long way from my comfort zone, but it is a great opportunity for me to help my own people, and to learn skills that will help me grow professionally.
CARE’s Nutrition Centre is in the grounds of the Pariang Primary Health Care Centre so it’s a busy place. Nutrition is important here; the people in the community are pastoralists who don’t practice agriculture but depend mostly on milk and a daily meal of flour and sour milk, but that's not enough for their nutrition needs.
More importantly, the crisis that began here in South Sudan in December 2013 has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and disrupted people’s livelihoods. Markets have been destroyed, and people aren’t growing enough food. This has had a major impact on peoples' nutrition needs.
My first task when I came to the centre was to screen children and pregnant and lactating mothers in order to identify anyone in need of nutrition supplements. During my first week, I screened 193 children, both boys and girls, for their nutrition status. To do this we apply a MUAC test. MUAC stands for Mid Upper Arm Circumference, meaning we measure the circumference of the patient’s upper arm to find out if their malnutrition status is Stable (Green), Moderate (Yellow) or Severe (Red).
Children are given Plumpynut and Plumpysup. Plumpynut is a therapeutic food given to children with severe acute malnutrition (red in the MUAC test), and Plumpysup is a supplementary food for children with moderate malnutrition (yellow in the MUAC test). Mothers receive oil, corn, and a soya blend flour for making porridge, which is an important boost for their nutrition.
We monitor them every two weeks to check their progress, and discharge them once they have fully recovered.
Two patients stand out in my memory of that first week. The first was Mary, a 17 year old girl who had never been to school. She was part way through her first pregnancy, yet she did not know it until she was told by the doctors at the health facility.
Another was Nyankir, a mother of three, who arrived very tired after walking four hours from her home to seek nutrition services. Nyankir was also pregnant, something she learned that day from the doctors at the clinic.
There’s a lot of work to be done at the Nutrition Centre. We receive many patients every day but our busiest days are always Monday and Tuesday because we’re closed over the weekend.
In addition to my nutrition work, I also help out in health education, creating awareness on how to improve hygiene in the community and preparing food in a clean environment.