Chef Elisabet

June 15, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards with her students in Collique, Peru

Buenos dias! I can’t believe I’ve been here for over a month! A LOT went on this week, so I’ll highlight the most important things:

Last Tuesday I went out with Gloria, the OB nurse, again to make more house visits and distribute more prenatal vitamins. We took a combie higher up the mountain to the 8th zone of Collique. I live in the 4th zone, and this was my first time to go this far up. I knew that Collique was a big town, but this was my first time to realize just HOW big it is. About 1/4 million people live here! We made about 20 visits and stopped when we ran out of vitamins. I was really excited because one of the girls we visited was the girl who came last week with her mother to our prenatal class. It was great running in to someone I knew this far away from OSA, because it made me feel more a part of the community! Please continue to pray that all the women will understand how important it is to take the vitamins we gave them.

This week I also had to opportunity to teach two cooking classes to the OSA mothers! Charo, the OSA social worker, does a lot of work with the OSA families and all the mothers come once a week to a class with her. They do different activities each week and learn about things such as health, personal hygine, birth control, how to help their children with their homework, how to organize their houses, etc. Charo asked me if I would do a cooking class with them this week. So on Wednesday and Thursday (the mothers are divided up in to two groups), I taught the senoras how to make pancakes and a chocolate cake from scratch! It was a great learning experience for everyone, including myself! I had to learn to make substitutions for some of the ingredients that aren’t available to the women in Collique or that they can’t afford. For example, we used evaporated milk instead of regular milk, and we had to beat everything by hand – no such thing as electric mixers in Collique! The senoras were so fun and SO patient with me as I learned more cooking vocabulary during the process! And they each had a blast making their own pancake in the skillet. Everything turned out great…except for the cake we made in the first class that burned to a crisp… I was impressed by the senora’s determination to salvage the edible parts of it. Luckily, I had practiced making the cake the night before, so we ate that one instead 🙂 I am so grateful for this opportunity I had to spend time getting to know these women. I learned so much from them. Since I already know each of their children really well, it was fun seeing where the kids get their personalities. All of the mothers work so hard and have amazing attitudes in spite of the hard lives they lead. I was blessed by their dispositions and eagerness to learn.

Last Thursday morning, I taught my first infant stimulation class! I am teaching this class for the 3 Thursdays in June that I am here. This is a very important class and something that the OSA team really wanted me to teach Collique mothers. Many of the women here, unfortunately, do not show much affection to their babies. As we know, this affection is so important for babies’ growth and development. Because a lot of the women are single mothers, they just have to throw the babies on their back while they work long days. And others just don’t know how important it is to give their babies attention to stimulate their minds so they can develop motor skills and improve their neurological functioning. At the beginning of the week, Chris and I walked around the 4th zone of Collique to hang fliers about my class. The idea is that mothers with babies between the ages of 0-12 months will bring their babies to the class and I will show them activities that they can do with them to stimulate their muscles and minds.

On Thursday morning, I had no idea who would show up, but all I could do was pray that I would have someone to teach! Luckily four women and their beautiful babies came! Two of the women came an hour late (I’m now getting used to Latin America’s sense of time) so I ended up teaching two classes. The youngest baby was 1 month old and the oldest was a little over 1 year. They were precious! During this week’s class, I taught the mothers how to give their babies a massage and exercise their muscles. It was such a rewarding feeling when the babies would smile or show their mothers that they liked the activity, and this made the mothers happy as well. It was also really interesting for me to watch the mothers interact with their babies. It was really obvious which mothers were used to showing affection to their babies and which were not. I realized that all of the babies may not have been wanted in the first place. This broke my heart, but it was also a great feeling to teach the mothers ways to interact with their babies so they could form a bond and relationship with them. The last activity we did in the class was a mother and baby exercise, so I made the mothers work a little too! This was a lot of fun, and although the mothers were laughing, I don’t know how they felt about me making them do crunches and bench presses with their babies… 🙂

Please pray that more mothers will come to the next two classes. If you have any ideas for activities the mothers could learn to do with their babies, let me know!

Luis and Ruth Campos arrived in Collique yesterday afternoon -it was a lot of fun having them here at OSA! They’ll also be at church tomorrow so I’ll get to see them again! Many of the OSA team members (including myself) have been sick this past week, so please pray that we’ll all be back to 100% soon!

God bless!

Elizabeth


Take your vitamins!

June 5, 2010

Delivering prenatal vitamins in Collique, Peru

By Elizabeth Edwards, South Main Member on a Medical Missions Internship in Collique, Peru

Yesterday was a great day in Collique! In the afternoon, Jessie took me to meet up with an OB nurse, Gloria, from the Posta (the community health center). Gloria is an amazing nurse who knows almost all of the pregnant women who live in the community. All of the women are supposed to come to at least 6 controls, or check-ups, during their pregnancy. However, most of the women only come to 2 or 3. These controls are very important because Gloria checks for anemia, high blood pressure levels, malnourishment, etc. When the women don’t come to their control, Gloria makes house visits to check up on them. Because we have a lot of donated prenatal vitamins here at OSA, Gloria let me go with her on her house visits to distribute them. Most of the women here don’t have access to these vitamins that are SO important for the development of their babies. This is one of the reasons why so many of their babies are born malnourished.

This was a great experience for me that I will never forget. I expected that Gloria and I would have to walk pretty far to get to the houses where the pregnant women lived. However, I was shocked at first because it seemed like a pregnant woman lived in every house on one street, and we didn’t have to walk very far at all. At every house, Gloria asked the expecting mothers why they haven’t been coming to the controls and told them to take the vitamins once a day. I was surprised that many of the women seemed like they had never taken vitamins before and had many questions about how and when to take them. This is something that is very hard for us to understand, but we have to remember that in the U.S., taking vitamins (especially during pregnancy) is a normal practice. But think about all the resources we have that contribute to our habit of taking a daily vitamin: (1) we have access to the vitamins (2) we have water to take them with (3) we have the education to know why it is important (4) we are used to routine. These are all things that the women here just don’t have. After taking all this into account, I realized how hard it is to cross all of these barriers to get the women to simply take a vitamin a day. However, all the women were very grateful for the vitamins and seemed like they were going to take them. We can just hope and pray that they will!

I brought about 15-20 bottles of vitamins with me and we passed out all but one. The women ranged in ages from 17 to 40 and were in different stages of their pregnancy. We also passed out handouts that Dr. Campos gave me about possible complications during pregnancy and gestational diabetes.

Gloria and I ended up having to take a trek up a mountain to reach one of the houses, and I thought we were going to get eaten by “los perros” at one point! Heres a picture of Gloria and the dogs that almost ate us for lunch:

So….after that, we stopped at a little store on the top of the mountain to treat ourselves to an Inca Cola. I think Gloria was really appreciative of the prenatal vitamins, and asked if I want to make house visits with her again on Tuesday. I’m also going with her the next two Friday that I’m here!

I feel so blessed by everything I saw yesterday. I was amazed at how grateful the women were for something as simple as vitamins. It reminded me how little the people have here and reminded me not to take anything for granted.

Thanks for reading! Thanks for the prayers, too. God is good!

Keep up with Elizabeth’s blog here.