I didn’t know what-to-do.
I mean – I had been trained-
I knew – what do do.
I knew that – just like the soldiers that freed the Jews from Nazi concentration camps in Europe,
-that you have to be careful to watch for re-feeding syndromes.
I knew how to diagnose malnutrition.
I knew to look for the swollen belly and skinny limbs, and big eyes with beautiful long eyelashes.
I knew to look for sores.
I even knew – that sweet potatoes were one of the best foods to feed those hungry little bellies – to reverse those conditions. As are oranges in combination with other starches and sugars.
What I didn’t know – is where the sweet potatoes were hiding –
-from the thousands of hungry bellies in the village.
There is something to be said for the bravery of the woman who left him there – because she bravely felt like I could help – more even than the hospital that refused him as a patient,
-putting the burden of his health and survival on others.
There’s something to be said, about the wind as it goes out of your own chest – and the responsibility of your own fast-paced heart,
-as well as the child’s palpitations.
Over the years, we’ve worked with many – too many – starvation syndromes.
From carrying babies on our backs from the fields for miles and miles – not sure if the little being’s heart was strong enough to handle the mere effort of being carried – to having them brought by desperate parents or relatives to our doorstep – or being led out into the dark corners where hungry babies are hidden so that they are not killed for their appearances, or violated as a false cure for HIV.
It isn’t easy to carry children in so much of a hunger condition – that their muscles in their necks are so weak they can’t hold up their own heads.
The children – depending on the severity of their malnutrition – can’t handle food. Ironically enough – they are most in danger of dying – after you feed them.
It’s like putting bacteria into a bowl that can’t digest it – after a while, it goes bad inside their bodies if the fibers intestines are too acidic to absorb the meal.
And yes, they even want to eat.
Your own stomach does flip-flops when they begin to vomit and heave – or even just gently fall asleep on whatever soft cushion you’ve found for them soon enough after swallowing.
But sweet potatoes – oh, sweet potatoes – help.
Sweet potatoes grow attractive looking vines – and are related to the flower morning glories.
Sweet potatoes are not easy to find in grocery stores or villages because they tend to be named differently in several different regions -“Yams, batatas” and many more known names that can’t even be shared on this blog for how few vernacular-speaking cultures actually use those simple local terms. Despite the confusion, if you insist – you are likely to locate a local source nearby.
And – sweet potatoes grow in easily in pots – and in fields.
Oh, so easy pots.
Most people in subtropical nations don’t know that. It’s a good thing to teach any hungry mother or child. Just cut up a few potatoes so that the eyes are separated and plant the roots. They will grow even if you leave the whole potato in a dark corner.
Sweet potatoes are common in vegan meals. There are few foods more comforting than potatoes, and few more nutritious than this sugary subtropical variety. Potatoes in themselves are interesting as a topic of conversation, and worth looking into – especially if you are working in a village.
Besides simple starches, raw sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber and beta-carotene (a provitamin A carotenoid), while having moderate contents of other micronutrients, including vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and manganese (table). When cooked by baking, small variable changes in micronutrient density occur to include a higher content of vitamin C at 24% of the Daily Value per 100 g serving (right table).
Starving children – are no different than normal children. Due to their conditions – they may also be picky eaters, or they might have lost the will to eat – or be malnourished because of already-existing failure-to-thrive.
So it helps and is reccommended – to have nice recipes to throw in the oven, or over a fire – even if you are in a village – to battle malnutrition as well.
Displaced and otherwise stressed children – are more likely to consume the life-saving nutrition their bodies need, if it tastes good.
And more likely to respond to emotional healing – and bonding – if their meals are prepared with care.
Here on this page are a few sweet potato recipes twinkling around the edges – .
Click on any picture for the recipe – all of which call for simple and few ingredients that can be found in almost any region of the world and are comforting anywhere you find them – even if they are difficult to peel.
* More updates to this post are coming soon.
Welcome to Pinteresting Against Poverty. Share our posts with your friends! Learn more about our work and our village by watching the video below:
Love Potato Stories? From “Faith Like Potatoes” to “The Great Potato Vodka” essay and nutritional deficiencies in potato-fed institutionalized forced-birth Romanian orphans. Share your stories and comments here: