When my phone alerted me to a new message one day in early June I casually picked it up and opened the photo. What I saw took my breath away. Our friend Joel had seen a child at his clinic in Baie d'Orange that morning who was 11 years old and weighed a shocking 27lbs. When I saw the picture they sent my heart dropped. Severe swelling crept up his feet all the way to his knees. His eyes were yellow and dull, and he was so weak he was barely able to stand on his own.
I knew that Phillippe needed emergency care, but didn’t think there was any way he could survive the hours-long journey from his home in Baie d’Orange to Middle Ground. Thankfully, the incredible teams at Partner Haiti and Haiti Air Ambulance are dedicated to the community and especially malnourished children, and they worked together to arranged to fly Phillippe via helicopter from the rural clinic to the city, where we picked him and his mama up and brought them to Middle Ground.
When Phillippe was admitted our social worker met with his mama where she shared that Phillippe also had a younger sister who was sick. We immediately made arrangements for 8-year-old Maquilène to be brought to Middle Ground to join her brother and her mama. 5 days later the 3 of them were settled together in our inpatient unit.
On the day of his admission, Phillippe weighed 27lbs 11oz and his upper arm measured 108mm. He was suffering from Kwashiorkor (swelling) malnutrition. Maquilène, although 2 years younger, wasn’t as sick as her brother, she weighed 37lbs 13oz and her arm measured 127mm. Maquilène was diagnosed with chronic marasmus (wasting) malnutrition. Phillippe and Maquilène were both treated with F75 milk for their first 10 days of treatment, before graduating to Medika Mamba.
During their 57 (52 for Maquilène) days of treatment, Phillippe consumed 206 saches of Medika Mamba while Maquilène ate 231 saches. Phillippe gained just over 9lbs and graduated weighing 36lbs 9oz with an upper arm circumference of 160mm. Maquilène gained a total of 8lbs 5oz during her treatment and her arm measurement grew to 165mm.
Once Phillippe and Maquilène had access to “peanut butter medicine” we really saw the transformations begin. Phillippe’s eyes began to shine, and we found the sweetest, spunkiest little boy begin to emerge from the body that has been shutting down just a few days earlier. Maquilène in her own sense also changed dramatically. Once a timid little girl who spoke so softly she could barely be heard, as the strength in her body built so did her dynamic personality. Together the two of them provided many hours of entertainment to all of us caring for them.
There is something profoundly special about this boy and his little sister. I don’t think there is one of us who encountered them during their time at Middle Ground who wasn’t deeply impacted by their determination and joy. These two kids know a kind of pain that most could only imagine, and they also know the feeling of fighting for their lives and coming out on the other side. They know victory.
It’s hard to imagine what the world would be missing if Phillippe were not here. The light that he exudes is one that we cannot afford to ever lose. In a time where so many are desperately looking for something good, Phillippe and Maquilène are the purest forms of joy and love.
Because someone like you gave a gift to Middle Ground Phillippe and Maquilène are alive today to spread their beauty to those around them. Today we have 3 other children over the age of 7 years old in the beginning days of their own battle to defeat malnutrition. Each of them is desperately loved, divinely created, and destined for a purpose. When you give to Middle Ground you give the world a chance to have these incredible humans make their impact.
Your gifts are changing and saving lives, one dollar at a time!