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9
Apr

The Harvest

Everyone in our board has been tremendously impacted by the Milk Project. I must confess that it is very difficult for us to keep up with our lives and also take the time to update everyone in everything that we are a part of. I ask that you would forgive us for the lack of updates and for the lack of information. Know that you are greatly appreciated and the lives that you have saved matter.

When my husband Alex and I went to Mozambique we never thought we would be there for such short amount of time, nor did we think we would ever be granted the blessing and opportunity that it has been to serve the Milk Project.

We went in search of meaning for our lives; it was never even in our radar that we would be involved in saving the lives of babies.

God is good. His plans are always bigger and greater than anything we could come up with. We left Mozambique feeling a bit empty; we felt like we had failed, like we accomplished nothing. Now looking back I stand in awe of the magnitude and the heaviness, the huge responsibility that it is to provide for these babies who have no voice and who would otherwise be in an orphanage or even worse dead.

 

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It blows my mind to think that there is a mother out there so desperately wanting to provide for her babe, and unable to do so. Hearing her child cry and unable to meet his needs. Desperate to feed her baby but at the same time being in such harsh condition that she cannot lactate to provide for her. Oh what it must feel like to wrap your baby in your arms and cry along with her. The feeling of helplessness, the feeling of watching your child disappear one day at a time.

I praise God because we encountered this project 6 years ago. I praise Him for those nurses who got it started and all of those who volunteered. I praise Him because we were able to create Little Changes International, and I especially praise Him for those of you who are a part of saving lives with us. For those of you who every month write a check, out of obedience, out of compassion, out of love. Thank you for your sacrifice, it does not go unnoticed. May the Lord bless you a thousand times what you have given and what you have done.

 

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Recently I received a message from our all-star nurse, Fatima. She just wanted to take a moment to thank you for saving lives. She asked that we would write you, and tell you that this is the labor of the Lord, that the project is steady, babies continue to come in and more momma’s find out about the clinic and are impacted by its love.  Thank you to some incredibly gracious donations we were able to expand the project and allow the babies to stay until they are a full year of age. This is a huge blessing, as you know that it is so difficult for these mommas to find the proper food to feed their babies. This allows us to give them proper nutrition and a proper foundation that will carry them out of the danger of being underdeveloped, and malnourished. We have about 40 babies at any given point, and we have a few volunteers who help directing traffic and teaching moms how to properly make bottles and care for their babes.

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Last year we had set apart some money to fund the new floors for the clinic. Up until that point it was mud and of course during the rainy season, the clinic would flood, be filled with mosquitoes and it would make very harsh conditions for the moms and their babies. We raised enough money to put in cement floors. However, the church that allows us to use their space for the clinic is growing very fast and is thinking about expanding.  Once the new site is found, we will go forward with the construction of the floors. This will help with the growth of the Milk Project and improve the conditions, especially during the rainy season.

 

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Thank you again for your continued support, thank you for being a part of our team! Thank you and may you find joy in knowing that you have saved the life of many babies! More updates to come. I leave you with this lovely verse, which carries me through times of tiredness and frustration:

“Do not grow weary of doing good for at the proper time you will reap a harvest.”

Galatians 6:9

 

 

 

 

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21
Feb

Reality Check

In a small village, in a place so removed from my world, many MANY miles away from home we get to be a part of a movement. A place where babies are given the opportunity to live and to thrive. What beautiful work it is. One of the most amazing things to me is that this is a project that the whole community recognizes and embraces!  In a small village called Manga in the country of Mozambique, there is a clinic made of straw and dirt built by the community! Women walk miles upon miles with their babies wearing their best outfits to come to a clinic where they are greeted by Fatima – a 29-year-old Mozambican nurse who has devoted her life to serve those in need.

 

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The point of the clinic is to provide milk for babies who are underweight and malnourished. Before encountering this place I took for granted the ability to breastfeed, better yet, I took for granted the ability to feed a family, a kid, a baby. In my small world I never thought about the desperation a mother must feel to hear her baby cry of hunger and not be able to do anything. Being left with no choice many mothers drop their babies in orphanages and give them up in hopes that they will be taken care of. Can you imagine having to make the decision to give up your child because you can’t feed him? But many mothers are unable to make themselves give up their babies and so they feed them whatever they can come up with just to make them stop crying, leaving babies completely malnourished and stunting their growth.

Although this work is a happy work… It’s not an easy work. This clinic was created to provide for babies who are in desperate need. How marvelous indeed! I want you to hear how amazing this clinic is, I want you to see how important this is, I want you to put yourself in the mom’s place and find a place of compassion, not a place of pity, where you feel bad and look the other way, but a place of compassion, where you feel and understand pain and are moved to action. What an honor to be a part of saving the life of a baby.

I keep writing, “saving lives”. Saving lives sticks out to me and it’s like a title that I have in the back of my mind because it’s what we are doing. It’s what I want to focus on. I just want to say it over and over again because maybe then I can just “focus on the positive”. We don’t like to write sad posts because we want our readers to be encouraged, we want our readers to be happy and feel good when you look at the work we are doing. But it is unfair to walk this journey with you and not let you in on the hard, tough and ugly situations.

As I look at the monthly report for the clinic and read the section labeled “comments” I can barely get through this section. Tears fall down my face… comments is the section where we find out why the mom’s are unable to breastfeed their babies:

“Husband abandoned mother while mother was pregnant”

“Mother is 15 yrs old.  Parents have passed and she lives alone in house of deceased aunt”

“Mother has severe mental issues.  Man who impregnated her ran away”

“Mother had HIV and died of TB.  Great-aunt cares for the baby, baby is on ARV treatment”

“Mother passed away.  Grandmother cares for the baby”

“Mother is 14 years old.  She conceived baby as a result of being raped.  Grandmother cares for the baby”

“Premature Birth.  Father abandoned family.  Severe malnutrition when baby entered program”

“Elton Carlos – 5 months old – Entered at 3.9 kg – Currently weighs 4.3 kg – HIV positive.  The baby is an orphan (both mother and father have passed).  He has two aunts that come to take care of him and take turns bringing him to the clinic.  He was very malnourished when he came into the clinic and getting treatment for AIDS.”

Mozambique is considered to be one of the world’s poorest countries. A place where people live on $1 per day!  What do you do when you are 14, you’ve been raped and now you have this beautiful baby that you can’t afford to take care of because you are barely able to survive? I can’t even imagine being in any one of those scenarios. It is by God’s grace that we were able to find this amazing project and adopt it. I’m so eternaly thankful for Ruth, a nurse who took us to see this clinic that was getting ready to lose all of its funds. She never lost hope, she never lost faith. God placed us at the right place at the right time. He orchestrated everything so that we would come in and bring a light in the darkness of this world. He made a way for these babies from a tiny village to be known, to be seen. He made a way for these moms to be heard! He heard their pleas and He sent the workers to bring this work to you so that you would see and get to be a part of this. Saving lives.

I’m honored to get to serve the moms that come through this project, but I’m broken for the ones we can’t help. At some point we have to start turning people away, and it is heart-breaking. To see a family in such desperate need and say, “I’m sorry. We can’t take anymore.” Oh God, give me the strength and the faith to continue to work. How can this be? Sorry, I see you, I feel you, but I can’t help you.  It’s heart breaking!  I live in a place where at your first doctor’s appointment for your pregnancy, you are more than likely) handed two cans of formula just in case you decide to go that route. I still remember the day I came back from Mozambique. There I was in a fancy OB-GYN office getting all that I need to prepare for my baby, and as I was leaving the place, they told me, “don’t forget to grab your goodie bag.” Oh tears rolled down my face at the irony of this world. This formula is what can save a baby!  It’s even more heart-breaking and difficult when we receive the news that a baby from our project has died, that despite our efforts it’s too late and there is nothing we can do.  The pain, the sorrow, the feeling of hopelessness we feel is too real. Being so far away we can still feel the agony of the mother as she looks at her baby breath his last breath.

 

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One of the most severe cases of malnutrition we have seen at our clinic.

So we save lives. Not all, not on our own, but saving lives is what this project is about. Jesus has graciously redeemed our lives so that we can pour back and do something good, something HUGE. To help and to serve: no better way to feel God’s love than to love others! He has called us to sacrificially love knowing that we love because He first loved us. He was the ultimate sacrifice so that in Him we would be complete. Would you take a moment and think about partnering up with us? Would you be a part of a movement of love? Would you help us provide for these momma’s and their babies? Would you help us bring up strong and healthy babies?

 

 

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23
Dec

Coming up for 2015

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I’m very excited to share about the changes we have in store in 2015 for Little Changes, and specifically our Milk Project.  The Milk Project has a special place in our hearts here at Little Changes because it was the project that launched the entire organization, and it has been a joy for the entire LCI team to see how it has continued to grow and impact the community in Mozambique.

 

What’s new for 2015?

We are starting a sponsorship program for the babies that come into the Milk Program.  Before, when you donated, you were simply making a general donation to the program.  Now, when you donate to the Milk Project, you will be paired with a baby.  You will receive a picture and a story for your baby as well as updates on the baby’s progress.  All it takes is $30 per month – just $1 a day – to sponsor one of these precious babies.  For those who prefer one-time donations, a $180 donation sponsors one child for the six months that the baby is in the program.

 

So, what exactly is the Milk Project?

The Milk Project is a weekly clinic, combined with home visits, specifically operated for newborn babies in desperate need of nutrition and healthy growth.  Typically, this means a regular supply of infant formula at a weekly check-up to make sure that the newborn is healthy and growing.

 

Why formula?  Isn’t breastmilk preferred over infant formula?

Yes, breastmilk is the preferred choice.  Studies have shown breastmilk to provide improved nutrition over formula, even before considering the cost of formula.  Before a baby is admitted into the Milk Project, a licensed nurse performs an evaluation to determine that breastfeeding is not a viable option.

 

What are the typical causes for breastfeeding to be unfeasible?

We usually see one of the following three causes.

 

Insufficient Milk Production is the most common cause.  Malnutrition affects many mothers in the area, making it difficult to provide a full supply of milk.  Severe breast infections and abscesses also constrict supply.  Recently, we have seen an influx of twins and the mother is unable to produce enough for both babies.  In these cases, formula is incorporated alongside normal breastfeeding practices.

 

HIV in babies is to be avoided at all costs.  An antiretroviral (ARV) treatment just before pregnancy has become quite effective at preventing transmission from an HIV-positive mother to the baby.  Since HIV can still be passed through breast milk, formula is the preferred alternative in cases with HIV-positive mothers.

 

A Deceased Mother is unfortunately an all-too-real situation.  A family member will look after the orphaned baby, but does not have the means to buy the infant formula.  In some cases, the mother has not passed but is too sick to care for the baby.

 

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How has the Milk Project changed in the last three years?

The most noticeable change has been the number of babies.  When Little Changes started, we typically saw 10-15 babies each week.  Now, we see 40-45 babies each week!  There has been no change in our policy to explain the growth; it has simply been by word of mouth from mothers who have seen their baby helped by the Milk Program.

 

We also have a fully Mozambican staff now.  Our lead nurse, Fatima, is able to connect at a much deeper level with the mothers and this is a reason why we have seen such growth.  It is so encouraging to see Mozambicans serving other Mozambicans!

 

With your generosity, we can continue to grow in our village and to surrounding communities.  We have grown so much in these three years and we hope to continue to grow, so please consider making a donation to this beautiful project and sharing with your friends and family.

 

Sincerely,

Alex Moore

President of Little Changes International

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1
Oct

Joyful Singing- Mozambique

Alex Moore is the president of Little Changes International and recently travelled to Mozambique to visit LCI’s Milk Project.  The following blog post captures his thoughts from the trip.

I recently had the opportunity to fly to Mozambique to see the progress of our Milk Project and get a report from our team there in the city of Beira and the small village of Manga where we have the clinic.  I was accompanied by Justin and Kirby Betancourt of Ambient Studios (Pearland, TX) who came to capture video of the clinic and photos of the surrounding areas.  The video for the Milk Project is coming out soon, and it is incredible!  They are so talented, and it was such a blessing to the team to have them there to show the wonderful work being done in Mozambique.

The Milk Project has a special place in my heart, because I saw the project in its infancy while living in Mozambique in 2011.  Soon thereafter, LCI became a nonprofit organization and the Milk Project was its first official project.  It had been almost three years since I had last visited, so I was excited to see familiar faces but somewhat worried to see how things had changed in that time.

The team showed up on Wednesday – a day before the weekly milk clinic on Thursday – to set up the film equipment for the following day.  The clinic is held in the same building since the beginning, but I was immediately struck by the growth in the surrounding neighborhood.  Manga, still a village on the outskirts of the larger Beira, has seen much population growth in a short amount of time. I met some of the families in the area and had some time to speak with Fatima, our R.N. who heads the local team there.

 

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The women wearing their best outfits, waiting for their babies to be seen.

 

The next morning, we showed up promptly at 9am for the milk clinic, only to hear the loud voices of women singing.  “They’ve been here for 30 minutes and they haven’t stopped singing!” our volunteer Catarina explained to us.  It was the mothers and caretakers who have children being helped by the clinic.  They wanted to make it clear to their American visitors how grateful they were for the clinic.  It was a powerful moment.  The rest of the day flew by.  Even though we have almost 40 babies each week, the clinic takes just about two hours.  Fatima spends personal time with each mother/caretaker to really assess how each baby is doing.  She takes the measurements and makes notes and Catarina passes out the week’s supply of milk.  The film team interviewed some of the women; some of them came from very difficult backgrounds, but what an encouragement to hear how Fatima and the rest of the LCI team invested in the life of the women and their babies!

 

 

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A mother and her children at the Milk Project

 

For the rest of our time, we were out in the community, meeting families who have been helped by the clinic.  It was amazing to see how much they respect Fatima and the work she does.  To them, she is the face of Little Changes. Multiple ladies told us that they had nothing when they showed up on the first day to the milk clinic.  This is where the Milk Project has advanced the most. Before, the Thursday morning clinic was the focal point of the project.  Now, it is the weekly family visits that have become the focus.  “This is how we can make the most impact,” Fatima informs me.  “Caring for the babies is more than just the milk.  I have to see the conditions and work with the women in a more holistic approach.

Before I left, I asked Fatima if she thought we were doing God’s work out here. Her reply summed it up so well.  “Yes, this is God’s work because we are doing what Jesus did.  He was in the community with the people and we are saving lives.  Maybe we aren’t doing it miraculously – raising the dead to life or causing the lame to walk again – but we are saving the lives of these babies.  Definitely God’s work here.

 

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A grandmother feeding her baby the formula