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A picture of severe malnutrition

posted in: 2011, Colombia - No Comments

May 28, 2011

Lady is one of the severely malnourished children who are in Tumaco’s nutrition clinic for recovery.

I’ll quickly sum up today. I was picked up at 7:20 and taken to a training that another organization was holding on nutrition. They were teaching nurses how to diagnose severe malnutrition, which is a big problem in Tumaco. I was then introduced to the presenter and we went to their nutrition clinic, where malnourished children are kept for a month to recover. When we got there, we met the doctor, who showed us around while he talked about the situation in Tumaco. While we were talking, we were standing next to a crib with a baby with severe malnutrition named Lady. She had big eyes and was just sitting, staring and scared. The doctor showed us the lesions all over her skin, which is an indicator of severe malnutrition. Finally, I couldn’t help myself and picked her up and held her for about 30 minutes, rocking her until she finally relaxed, putting her head on my chest and closing her eyes. READ MORE

Responsibility and Respect

posted in: 2011, Colombia - 1 Comment

Jonathan Navas

Jonathan Navas

My current International Relief & Development (IRD) internship has allowed me to travel to Colombia for the first time. This is also my first time working with a non-governmental organization (NGO). In preparation for my seven-week internship in the city of Florencia, the capital of the department of Caquetá, I needed to grasp the principles that run an international NGO such as IRD. So, along with the other Emory interns, I attended a weeklong orientation at IRD’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. We learned much concerning IRD’s mission, goals and initiatives.

The province of Caquetá

Red area marks the province of Caquetá

All the interns then flew to their respective sites of work: Colombia, Laos, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

I have been in Colombia for nine days now (three days in Bogotá and six days in Florencia). My IRD partner, Lisandro, from the Rollins School of Public Health, and I met with IRD country directors for Colombia in Bogotá. IRD has two field offices, one in Tumaco, Nariño (Pacific Coast), and another in Florencia, Caqeutá (South). Tumaco and Florencia are cities containing large concentrations of internally displaced persons (IDP’s), largely composed of Afro-Colombians, Indigenous, and Mestizos (people from a mixed European and American Indian ancestry). Lisandro is stationed in Tumaco, which is largely Afro-Colombian, and I am in Florencia, which is largely Mestizo. READ MORE

First thoughts from Tumaco

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Lisandro Torre

I’m finally in Tumaco and it’s all starting to come together. I got picked up at 4:30 in the morning on Wednesday and taken to the airport to catch my 6 am flight to Cali, landed at 7:15 and hopped on the 7:35 flight to Tumaco to arrive at 8am. A two-hour flight that takes over 25 hours to do overland. As soon as I landed I felt at home and much more comfortable than in Bogota. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to describe Tumaco, or how to contextualize it for myself and I end up comparing a lot of things to Uganda. It’s not the same, but it is the only other experience I’ve had working abroad and I can’t help but to compare the two. I apologize ahead of time if that’s annoying.

Tumaco Street Scene

Tumaco Street Scene

Tumaco is completely different than Bogota. In Uganda (it starts) Kampala was different from Bududa, but they were still a lot alike – you could see how both places fit together in the same country. Tumaco is a different world from Bogota and it’s noticeable immediately. It’s hot—and sticky hot—and sunny. My ride was immediately there and rather than sketchy people asking to take me somewhere or to some hotel, a bunch of kids followed us to the car, opened our door and begged for a tip. Fewer cars, a ton more motorcycles (and there were a fair amount in Bogota), no helmets, no seatbelts, kids riding on the front of motorcycles (women don’t side saddle here), fewer traffic lights, bumpier roads, no tall buildings, a lot more litter, shacks. It feels like another country and I would believe that it was except the Colombian military is everywhere. READ MORE