The Impact Is UndeniablePosted: June 6, 2011
After another one-hour dirt road ride from our hotel in Bumala Kenya, (I should mention that a recent power outage prevented the water pump from working, so we had no running water for the night) just 25 kilometers from the Kenya/Uganda border, we arrived in another cluster village where Vitamin Angels and Global Network have been distributing vitamins through one of their prenatal projects. Just like in Musango, the villagers here in Makunga brought out everything they had for chairs and set them in the front yard under the biggest tree around to have a meeting on the program and to once again hear from the local mothers who have had recent births while taking Vitamin Angels prenatal vitamins.
After some brief opening comments by the registrar responsible for registering the mothers for Global Alliance, we heard once again how the vitamins dramatically changed the way these mothers felt during pregnancy and child birth. The comments and the experiences of these women were exactly like those from the villagers the day prior: increased strength and stamina, bigger full-term babies and easier births. And of course happy laughter from the audience when one woman thanked us because she no longer had to eat dirt to get her needed minerals.
One of the differences in this visit was the active involvement of the men. Several of the men in attendance asked to speak, including several of the tribe’s elders, who were basically looking for information on what the women had been taking and why they (the men) were not included. Information and communication at this level is so challenged because most of the experiences these villagers have with pills is in the form of drugs, or even health related regimens of drugs associated with the HIV pandemic.
Howard spent some time addressing the group on the work that Vitamin Angels and Global Alliance are doing, and through an interpreter did a great job of bringing the health and nutrition message to this village. Smiling faces around our impromptu tree meeting as the interviews and discussion was adjourned.
And then some fun….
Tom had been lugging around a giant duffle bag for me all week filled with toys, school supplies, coloring books and balls to give to the children. What a wonderful experience it was dispensing the goodies and seeing the smiles and light in the faces of these children who have little outside of their own imaginations to play and learn with. Within what must have been seconds, the loot was distributed and pick-up games of ball toss started all over the village while some kids gathered in the shade to color and write.
What a wonderful end to our time here in Makunga. Real good is coming to these people by virtue of Vitamin Angels’ reach and, through our support for their work as well as the industry we represent, scalability to a much larger solution is only time and dollars away.
Next, we were off to Eldoret to catch a plane, but not before one last stop at the Riley Mother and Baby Hospital and a visit to a local school. More on that to come…