An Average Week of a Formula Program Director
I wear many hats for the formula program. I am the director of the program. I am an advocate for the kids in the program. I am a guide for the parents and caregivers.
My week starts on Saturday when I go to the market. At the market, I purchase items that we will use in the baby food such as corn and moringa. I am also always looking for the fortified peanut butter for our older kids.
I work a lot with a group of boys that aged out of an orphanage. On Sunday, they help me get the baby food ready. This includes grinding all the ingredients down to a powder and then mixing the different measurements together and putting it in bags for the families. The families just have to add water to the powder when it is time for the kids to eat!
On Monday, I make photocopies of attendance sheet for the week. I record the children’s weights on this so we can make sure that they are growing. I also get everything organized like straightening up the house and counting out the formula to give each family.
Tuesday is the day that I really feel special because it is the day that the kids come in. I start the day early with the pastor. We pray together and then have some juice and a pate for breakfast. Then the families start arriving. I spend time with each family. We start by sharing that this is not from us but from the Lord. I weigh the kid and take pictures. I give the families the formula and baby food. The pastor reads a passage and prays. Then we spend more time talking with the family. The families come all throughout the day. The day is really special. I love seeing the kids, especially when they get used to me and smile instead of cry. My favorite part is seeing how the kids transition from being scared to opening up and being happy. Sometimes I buy the kids or their guardians a drink or a treat. I show the love that I have. I really appreciate that I’m working and helping these kids.
On Wednesday we sometimes have kids come in who were not able to make it on Tuesday. Otherwise, I will go to the houses of anyone else that did not come to check on them.
There are also things I do that do not happen on specific days. For example, home visits are when I go to the kid’s houses. The kids see you come to their house now. At first some are scared like Sandra used to be, but now she’s happy and loves seeing me. It gives me another chance to talk with the family, encourage them, and build a relationship with them. I am also able to check on how the babies are doing.
Sometimes one of the babies in the program gets sick and needs to go to the doctor or the hospital. On these days, I will get up early in the morning to get to the doctor before everyone else. I will give the doctor the baby’s name and money so he will see the kid. I have the families meet me there. If they can’t come with the kid, I will go pick up the kid or send a motorcycle to pick them up.
Sometimes we have to go to the hospital with the kids. Sitting in the hospital, is something I really don’t like. I do it for the kids though which is totally different. Sometimes at the hospital I hear about new babies whose mother has died.
I can’t really explain how we find the kids for the program other than saying God puts the right people on the right paths. Often, people hear about the program through word of mouth. Sometimes, people I know hear about babies that need the program and refer them to us. One time a grandma was talking about the kid to my wife and she told her about our program. Another time, one of my friends was walking by and heard someone talking about a baby whose mother had died. He stopped and told them about our program.
I give my number out. I have them call me or come to the formula house the next day. Otherwise, I will go see them if someone knows where they live. We have a process to adding someone to the program. We have to make sure we have all the information and that they meet our guidelines. However, after we hear about a baby without a mother, we make the first visit happen that day or the next day. They will always get formula then so that they do not go hungry.
A lot of people think I work in an orphanage. This is better than an orphanage because the kids grow up in a family. When kids grow up with a family, they have a better chance. The Lord is supporting them.
I’ve seen the harm orphanages can cause kids. The kids will go through hard times with a guardian, but it would be rougher in an orphanage.
In the future, I would like to see these kids grow up without risk of malnutrition and for all of them to be following the Lord. In the near future, we have older kids that are ready for preschool. To tell you the truth, I would love for our kids to get an education and follow the Lord. One of my hopes is that all of our kids will be able to attend school. I would also love our program to be able to purchase its own property so that we can continue to grow – not only for Saint Louis families but for families from different areas as well. We can help lead them to the Lord and help the kids get the formula they need.