Going the Extra Mile for a Young Patient

Meaning “Little Hearth,” the Ti Fwaye program brings two-week training sessions to vulnerable areas to teach good cooking practices, proper feeding, and nutrition to caregivers of malnourished children. Our community health staff lead the sessions jointly with local mothers of children thriving nutritionally.

Programs such as these often require our staff to go the extra mile. During one Ti Fwaye session, community health nurse Ginette Elipha realized a young girl, Sonia*, and her mother did not attend as expected. So, Ginette decided to visit the family at home to better understand why they didn’t attend.

Miss Ginette Elipha, a Haitian community health worker, weighs a young child in the community health room.

Ginette Elipha, right, weighs a child in the community health room at St. Boniface Hospital.

Leaving her motorcycle behind, Ginette hiked for more than 30 minutes up rough, rocky terrain in order to reach Sonia’s home. Once there, Sonia’s mother said she didn’t think participating in Ti Fwaye was necessary because the program used all the same foods she had at home. Ginette explained that this approach is intentional—that the goal of the Ti Fwaye program is to show parents how they can keep their children healthy by preparing and serving the same ingredients differently. The program also teaches the principles of nutrition and offers opportunities for parents to share their experiences.

After a long discussion, Sonia’s parents agreed to participate in the program. The very next day, Sonia’s father brought his little girl himself and eagerly participated in the group. Sonia and her father attended every remaining Ti Fwaye session. During this time, Sonia gained 0.4 kg and her mid-upper arm circumference (a measure of malnutrition in children) increased by 45 mm.

During the closing ceremony on the last day, Sonia’s father stood up. He thanked St. Boniface Hospital, Miss Elipha, and all of the mothers who welcomed his participation in “this wonderful activity which restored health to my daughter.” He also promised to put into practice the concepts he learned to keep his daughter healthy. Three months later, our community health team visited Sonia and were thrilled to see she was still well and continuing to gain weight.


* Name changed to protect patient’s privacy