Last week VfV took advantage of having lots of medical doctors around and organised health checks at all their community centres for the sponsor kids. To free up the doctors time for examination few of us volunteers went with the team of doctors to support them.
The sponsor kids were welcomed at the “reception” and their details were taken down: name, age, family, etc.
The next stop was the BMI station. Nina and Malin measures height and weight of the kids and calculated their Body-Mass-Index (BMI=weight in kg / (height in cm)^2). A BMI of 18.5-25 is considered healthy, everything under 18.5 is considered underweight. Most of the kids we saw ranged around 14, with a few being lower than 12!!!
Up next was the examination. Eyes, ears, teeth, lungs, etc. With a local translator and a few words of the local language “Waray-Waray” the doctors did a great job with 35-50 kids at every location. Some of the kids would come alone, some with their parents. The most common advice was to feed the kids more. And the most common reaction was a big question mark on the parent’s faces. How? Referrals to dentists and clinics or recipes for medication may or may not be taken seriously dependent on the family’s situation.
After the examination the kids would come to me for their medication – a deworming drug as well as a high dose of vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness and increases the risk of disease and death from severe infections. The kids were amazing! Almost all of them swallowed the two pills without a flinch. After checking whether everything was gone they started to smile again high-five-ing me and being happy that the check was over. With another dose of the medication for September, a new toothbrush and a bread roll the ventured off to all their waiting friends outside.
Looking at all these cute kids you can easily see that they are small and thin. Many of them look fragile and unhealthy. But you see them playing around and being silly and it almost does not look too bad. However, seeing the evidence in black and white was heartwrenching. It was a very strong experience that moved me a lot and will continue to do so. I am grateful for it and happy I could be there and support.
The next days will be a hunt for more peanut butter (calories) and orange vegetables (Vitamin A).