One Day at Save the Children’s ‘baby tent’
Among the makeshift shelters filling displacement settlements in the earthquake-devastated city of
Infants and young children are among the most vulnerable in any disaster. This is particularly true in
Breastfeeding is an affordable and vital way to help keep very young children alive and healthy. In the baby tent, Rachelle, the twins’ mother, has a place where she can receive support to help keep her babies healthy.
Rachelle, who just turned 30, is a first-time mother and finds coping with the aftermath of the earthquake and taking care of twins to be quite challenging.
“It’s my first time here, and I am hoping to receive some advice for taking care of my babies. I am not getting enough to eat, and I need support as these are my first children,” she says.
The baby tents are situated in temporary settlements and surrounding communities. Save the Children is working with breastfeeding support groups to help mothers who are having difficulty breastfeeding their infants, and detecting and treating children with acute malnutrition. At the national level, Save the Children is the management agency for ready-to-use infant formula for orphaned and highly vulnerable infants, conducting trainings and overseeing distributions to ensure the needs of these infants are met while protecting breastfeeding.
Save the Children case worker Tamara Lubin says one of the challenges the team faces is trying to dispel myths about breastfeeding that are common among mothers
“Some of the mothers we meet have stopped breastfeeding as a result of beliefs that arose after the quake, including that stress makes a mother's milk dry up; that if a mother is not eating properly, her milk is not good; and that if a mother stops breastfeeding and then begins again, her baby will get diarrhea,” she says.
In the case of the twins, Michelle and Micaël, their mother is not getting enough to eat so she believes that she should not breastfeed. Save the Children staff offered her advice today to help her breastfeed again and will also try to supply her some high-energy biscuits the next time she visits.
For young children who lost their mothers to the earthquake, Save the Children provides ready-to-use infant formula. Because mixing is not required, there is no risk of contaminated water causing diarrhea — a major killer of young children in the developing world. The formula must be administered under controlled conditions.
Jacenta lost her mother in the disaster. Her aunt, Teliane, said that Jacenta’s mother had been working in
“Unfortunately Jacenta’s plight is not uncommon. We’re finding that a third of the cases we see are family members coming to get safe milk because the babies’ mothers have died. Another third of the visits are to help mothers who had problems before the earthquake and need relactation support, and the remaining third are mothers who are experiencing stress and are having problems breastfeeding after the earthquake,” says Lubin.
To encourage more visits and to expand the program, Save the Children is providing mothers who cannot breastfeed and relatives who are taking care of orphans, transportation and money for lunch.
Save the Children is playing a leading role in providing health and nutrition services in Jacmel, Léogâne and