Last Tuesday I sat in the doctor’s office with a Rahab's House School student and his mother. He has been having chest pain and we wanted the doctor to examine him. As I sat in the office during his examine, I could not help but notice how small this ten-year-old looked. When the doctor finished, he explained the next course of action and asked if we had any questions. I was still pondering the height and weight of this little one, so I asked the doctor if the boy was at the right height and weight for his age. The doctor consulted a chart, looked at the boy's hands and feet and came to the conclusion that Mao’s* height was comparable to a six-year-old and his weight was comparable to a seven-year-old. The doctor also mentioned that he had missed some key growth spurts because of poor nutrition. Therefore he would always be rather small, but have bigger hands and feet. His brain has been affected by lack of nutrition. The doctor unequivocally stated that Mao would never be as clever as he would have been had he had a good diet. My heart just about broke! This young boy is only ten-years-old, but in many ways his life's course has already been set for him.
Proper nutrition has been on my mind over the last several months as we have walked with our staff through a variety of health crises. Many people in Svay Pak are severely underweight and they simply do not have the resources to change this. We are making small steps with our staff - providing a good salary, giving training on health and hygiene, distributing healthy snacks each day and making frequent trips to the doctor to treat aliments. I cannot help but wonder: what are the long term implications of poor nutrition on our staff and the children of Svay Pak? I also wonder what could have been. Could there have been fewer trips to the doctor, more energy in teaching, less fatigue? Could the students learn English or any of their subjects more quickly? Could families have fewer medical bills? Could the next generation of Cambodian leaders come from this village?
But we press on towards making incremental changes and trust that the Lord is up to something even in this difficult situation.
“Give us today, our daily bread...” Matt 6:11