As part of my work with the Azil Foundation, a small not-for profit organization focused on medical, nutrition and educational support in northern Haiti, a couple weeks ago I traveled, for the second time, to Cap Haitian, Haiti.  Upon returning, a powerful image has been stuck in my mind: a naked toddler chewing on a piece of garbage, staring into the back of our truck as we unloaded bagged rice, beans, and canned sardines and tomatoes.

I have since been reflecting on the positive impact of seemingly small gestures of giving, like:

-rice and beans to a family in need
-a soccer ball
-a toothbrush
-a smile

In some situations, the depth of dietetics cannot even be approached, because there is simply not enough food, period. Often we can get so mired in science and politics that we forget the power of basic essentials that are needed for human survival— think safe, clean water and a variety of nutrient-rich foods.

As part of this trip, I went into a community where malnutrition was even more apparent  than experienced in previous trips. The lack of enough nutrients, vitamins and minerals was glaringly obvious from the red haired children *resulting from varying degrees of protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) like kwashiorkor and marasmus. PEM is something we rarely see here in the U.S.

Potable water and sanitation is a big challenge in many areas of Haiti, contributing to a breeding ground of bacteria, viruses and disease, in turn, adding to a vicious cycle of malnutrition and a variety of poor health conditions.

I hope all of you find inspiration today and reflect upon how truly blessed we are. Don’t ever forget that the smallest gesture on any given day can change someone’s life.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Arthur Ashe

Stay tuned for more Haiti insight, experiences, pictures and ways that malnutrition and these problems are being addressed on the ground.