Many of you will remember the very malnourished little boy named Markendy that came to our clinic in February. I was fortunate to see him this trip and I almost didn’t recognize him. Please see the before and after photos below. He’s a healthy boy in only three months of receiving the food he needs. That’s amazing to me! I’ve read medical books suggesting that it takes years to become malnourished and it will take years to recover. That has not been my experience as I’ve seen quite a few of these amazing recoveries.
For a long time I’ve wanted to start a goat milking project because I’ve often seen goats near the home of a starving child. No one has ever been able to tell me why Haitian’s don’t drink goat’s milk. I thought it might be because it was bitter so this trip I decided to find out for myself. Rachel bought a few goats in January and two of them delivered babies since we’ve been here so mama has milk!
I called my daughter, Katie, as she has raised and milked goats for several years now. She had to give me a basic lesson on goat milking over the phone. She said that if a goat hasn’t been milked before, it may not let you milk it so you will need to tie it near a wall, sit on a small stool, press your knees against it to hold her still and then see if she will let you milk her.
So I proceed to get the Haitian “goat milker” to come and milk the goat so I could take a picture. I got him a bucket to sit on and I tied the goat up for him. He looked at me, clearly wondering what I was doing as his technique was slightly different. He had a young girl grab the back legs and lay the goat down, he pushed the stool out of the way and grabbed an emptied Cremora container and started milking. There was no way the goat could protest!!
We boiled the milk and I was elected to take the first taste. With fear and trepidation, I took the first sip. To my surprise, it was actually very sweet and tasty. We are past the first hurdle.
One of the moms in the village brought a malnourished child to us several days ago. The child was suffering from the type of malnutrition where you swell up instead of simply getting skinnier as Markendy did. Mom wasn’t producing enough milk so we thought we’d see what she thought about supplementing with goats milk. Maybe now I’ll find out why Haitians don’t drink it.
Once again, to my surprise, mom was very enthusiastic and is now feeding the child goats milk every day. We have set up the “goat milker” to deliver milk to the child’s mom and are praying for the same result we got with Markendy.
If this continues to work, I hope to take the goat milking lessons to the Provence where I’ve witnessed so many malnourished children suffering and dying. I’ll train the 50 health care workers we’ve been training for the last ten years with a simple message:
“Milk your goats and feed the milk to the starving child in your villages!”
Maybe this will be a small step in alleviating some of the pain in this land of suffering, Lord willing.
John H Leininger