Child Nutrition Program
This life-saving ministry works to provide malnourished infants and children with milk and nutritious foods, as well as education for their mothers. Those enrolled in the program receive routine care for typically two years until they graduate and become healthy. The Child Nutrition Program was begun by Dr. Osvaldo Canario of the San Juan Christian Clinic with the involvement of Canadian nurse practitioner, Cora Hunse.
The main areas of focus include San Juan de la Maguana and El Cercado. Currently, there are around 150 children enrolled. Dr. Osvaldo Canario and Dr. Victor Perdomo oversee this ministry with the assistance of Cora Hunse, missionary Kristen Shaul, SRI missionary and social worker, Laura Demastus, and several local health promotors. Your generous donation will provide for starving children and their families who may otherwise be without hope. Give to the Child Nutrition Program today!
How the Child Nutrition Program Works
- Infants and children enter the program based on their need and level of malnutrition after a medical evaluation.
- Children receive a monthly supply of vitamins, protein, and Nestlé’s milk supplement.
- Medical problems are treated.
- Mothers bring their child to the clinic once a month to be weighed, reevaluated, and receive the next month’s supply of vitamins and milk.
- Mothers pay a small fee of RD 50 pesos (about US $1.30) each visit to encourage a sense of ownership in the program.
- Home visits are also provided, along with health education.
- A literacy program is offered to give mothers the skills needed for an adequate job.
A Story of Hope
Neyda was 7-years-old, abandoned by her family, and weighed in at a fragile 36 lbs when she first entered the Child Nutrition Program. She was immediately admitted to the hospital, where she lost an additional 12 lbs of water in five days due to a condition called kwashiorkor, bringing her down to only 24 lbs. Kwashiorkor is a disease that develops due to lack of protein in the diet. Neyda’s diet had consisted of just simple starches, such as rice, plantains, and yucca. The skin on her legs and feet were cracking and bleeding due to extreme swelling of her body.
Once strong enough to leave the hospital, Neyda was cared for by a local pastor and his family, and eventually adopted by the clinic administrator. During her time with the pastor’s family, she grew physically, mentally, and even spiritually as she came to trust in the Lord as her Savior. Canadian Nurse practitioner, Cora Hunse, was happy to see Neyda’s development over the following weeks:
To observe her amazement as she touched the inside of the refrigerator, to hear her speak on a telephone for the first time, to watch her eat her first ice cream cone . . . it made me realize how much we take for granted in North America. We are so blessed! Thank you for blessing this vital program.
Neyda is now happy and healthy and attends the Solid Rock International sponsored school, The Christian Center for Integrated Education in El Cercado. She is studying with the hope of becoming a veterinarian.
The Many Causes of Malnutrition
Living in poverty can lead to poor hygiene, low quality and low quantity of food sources, and increased risk of infections and sickness. Negligence, including poor distribution of food to children and lack of adult supervision in the home also contribute. Physical and emotional abuse can play a role as well. Even in this modern age of high speed Internet, advanced medicine, and worldwide cell phone coverage, thousands of children continue to suffer from a lack of proper and adequate food, water, and basic hygiene needs. Malnourishment in infancy and childhood is especially detrimental, as young children’s developing bodies require diets rich in a variety of nutrients for proper growth. In rural, underdeveloped areas of the world such as parts of the Dominican Republic, proper nutrition and hygiene of infants and children is often a challenge.
While many infants and children improve dramatically during their time enrolled in the program, it can still be difficult to remain healthy after they no longer receive the monthly milk supplement. Malnutrition is a cyclical, widespread problem that does not have an easy solution. However, the goal of the Child Nutrition Program is to not only save children from a dangerous state of health, but also to help parents become better educated to make more informed choices about food. For example, instead of giving a child three cups of rice, the parent could provide a more nutritious meal of one cup of rice and an egg. In an effort to increase the sustainability and effectiveness of the program, Solid Rock International has trained several local health promoters who work to educate the community in the areas of food preparation, sanitation, and birth control methods, all from a Christian perspective.