Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Good News on Malnutrition

Last Sunday's 60 Minutes ran a wonderful story on the use of peanut butter, powdered milk and vitamin product called "Plumpynut" which is saving the lives of hundreds of severely malnourished children in Africa. The wonderfully enthusiastic doctor in the story suggested that if the world's donors shifted even a small portion of their donation dollars into the purchase or - better yet- local production - of plumpynut - we could,

OK - he didn't but I will dare say it -- cut infant mortality in half by 2015, one of the Millennium Goals now deemed unreachable.

I was up in the foothills northwest of Santo Domingo yesterday at the opening of a clinic run by the Batay Relief Alliance. This was an area where the sugar cane production ended 12 years ago. Dreadful as the conditions may be for workers on the sugar cane fields, as is now being bemoaned by several films, conditions are even worse when the fields are closed, the lands sold to cattle farms, and all jobs are gone. The hundred and fifty or so people who had been brought by bus from one or two hours away where BRA has its "bus" clinic said that ,in addition to HIV and TB tests, and free medicine, BRA also hands outs free food.

I saw a poster for this food, a dehydrated vegetable and soy protein soup, made by Harvest Pro
out of Lubbock, Texas and given as a gift by US AID (labeled as gifts from the American people, which is US, or WE, the people).

You,too, will crack a wry smile when you see that one should store this product below 70 degrees. I have been here for the better part of three years and perhaps once, during a really hard rain storm, the temperature dropped to 70 degrees. It was a humid 87 degrees under the poster, according to the trusty thermometer that I keep attached to my wallet, just to reassure myself that I am not imagining it, it really is sweltering hot here.

Once you get this "soup", you can't just eat it, you have to add lots and lots of pure water - something that costs $1.10 for 5 gallons. Then you have to cook it for 30 minutes. Over gas, which costs a fortune here and is ever rising or over charcoal - there goes the forest, down goes the last tree in Haiti.

SO while you are writing your Congressman about- oh so many other things-ASK please that we get rid of the soy bean/potato/carrot soup out of Texas and BRING ON THE PLUMPYNUT!

Every American knows that the kids want Peanut Butter - not soy beans!! Imagine the response in your house if you hollered out "Come and get your soybean soup!"

Better yet. Go to this website for this wonderful project in Haiti. Have a fundraiser and help Haiti develop their own production of plumpynut.

Haiti is full of so many fantastic little projects. One day they are all going to meet up and wow, won't the world be surprised!


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