Today I want to share with you a story. Some of you may already know this story, but other do not. It’s Betsy’s story, but it is also the story of countless other children in Haiti who have suffered the nightmare of malnutrition.
Betsy was our first experience with infant malnutrition about six years ago. God used Betsy to set us on a pathway to eventually opening our own malnutrition center, Pen Lavi. When Betsy came to us, she was six months old and weighed six pounds. She had become very sick, stopped eating, and was wasting away. Her family didn’t know what to do for her, so they brought her to us for help. At the time, we had no idea of what to do, so we reached out for help through the Expat Community on Facebook. There is a medical page there that we often use to reach out for help from medical professionals across the country. Someone immediately suggested we contact Brittany Pierre who was running a malnutrition center down in Bel Anse (about 6 hours from us). I wrote to Brittany and she was flying in from the US and said we could meet her at the airport and she would take Betsy and her mom to her place for care. Over the next few weeks, Betsy had to go into the hospital multiple times as her fragile little body fought hard to stay alive. After multiple miracles, she made it. Today Betsy is a happy, thriving young girl who loves to help others and loves Jesus more than life itself.
After Brittany took Betsy in, other families began to bring their malnourished babies to us for help. It seemed to be a constant, endless flow of desperate mamas trying to find a way to help their babies survive. We knew we could not continue to take these babies six hours away from their families. We found another malnutrition center that was closer, but it was still 3 hours away. As God continued to grow our understanding of malnutrition, He also grew our desire to open a center of our own that could meet the needs of these families closer to where they live. At the time, Rachel Charpie was working as a two-year intern at our children’s home. I had done some research and was putting together some forms and spreadsheets of the patients we had already had, but I knew that this was more than I could take on myself. I asked Rachel if she might be interested in taking on the challenge. She immediately said YES! God had already begun preparing her heart for the next step He wanted to take with her in her Haiti journey. Rachel had started leading a boy’s Bible study in our house on Saturdays. She practiced her diagnostic skills on them by going through all the tests and measurements required to diagnose someone with malnutrition. Most of the boys in the group were clinically malnourished. She started them on a nutritional regime that would get them to their optimal weight and size and within months, they were all released from the program.
In the meantime, Rachel started seeing more and more patients in our clinic though her out-patient malnutrition program, but those who needed more intensive care were still having to go to a clinic 3 hours away. We began to pray for God to provide a place where we could offer inpatient care so that we wouldn’t have to send them so far away. God answered our prayers in every detail when He led us to the place where we would open Pen Lavi (Bread of Life) Malnutrition recovery center.
Since the first day we opened the center, Rachel and her amazing staff have treated over 80 children who were severely malnourished. Not all have survived, but those that did not just came to us at a point when it was too late to survive or they had other medical problems that complicated it too much. These children that are taken in at Pen Lavi are given love and nurturing and nutrition that turns their little bodies and spirits from sickly and scared to healthy and happy just like Betsy. Their mamas are encouraged to stay with them there at the center so that they can not only give their child love and nurturing, but also learn about their child’s nutrition and health needs.
You see, malnutrition doesn’t necessarily mean “starving”; it more often means “bad nutrition.” It means that the child may have been eating, but he or she was only eating rice or bread and wasn’t getting a proper diet to provide the nutrients the body needs to grow and stay healthy. Complications develop in the body that put the child on a downward spiral to death. Organs start to shut down, and the child develops a syndrome called Kwashiokor that can quickly become lethal. We have treated many children with this problem over the last year in our center.
The miracles we see God perform in our midst daily at Pen Lavi are astounding. However, because the center doesn’t have a source of creating income to pay the medical staff and provide the medicines, medical care, and food the children need to recover, we have to raise those funds. We would like for Rachel to be able to focus completely on running the center without having to worry about whether or not the center can continue to be open because of budget issues. This is why we have decided to have an annual fundraiser called Food for Life where we raise all of her budget for the year and she and her staff can continue to provide the care all of these children need to survive like Betsy has. Our prayer is for every child that enters our doors to receive the absolute best possible care we can give them.
We would like for you to pray about helping us do that. Please join us at the Food for Life fundraiser dinner on May 2nd, 2019 buy purchasing a ticket for $45 and/or participating in our silent auction. The auction will be live at the event and online as well. Bidding will actually start online on April 25th. You can go to the But God Ministries Facebook page to learn more about the event or go to this link: Food for Life fundraising event Your support truly provides Food for Life! Thank you, and God Bless!!