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With Support, Anything is Possible

By: TIP Global Health | May 26, 2021

After the loss of her daughter-in-law, 65-year-old Josephine found herself as the main caregiver of a newborn baby. The nurses provided her with infant formula and offered ongoing teaching to ensure that she was not in this alone. Although she is older and many things have changed since Josephine last had a child, the frontline health workers offered continuing counseling and education to increase her confidence and knowledge. 

Josephine has been able to raise the baby, who is now one year old. They are both happy, healthy, and thriving thanks to the dedication and quality of care of the nurses and community health workers. Here is her story*:

“My name is Nyirabagaruka Josephine, and I am 65 years old. After the loss of my daughter-in-law, I felt depressed and like I couldn’t do anything. I knew I was going to be the main caregiver for the infant she had left, but I was afraid that I would not be able to raise a child at my age. It was hard to take care of the baby. Then, I received the support from nurses who provided the infant formula. Now the baby can walk, and laugh and it gives me hope and energy to keep taking care of her.  

At the time, it was hard to think about raising a newborn who could not eat on her own and that I could not breastfeed her myself. After the death of my daughter-in-law, nurses requested that I stay at the hospital. They gave me the infant formula, but more importantly, they taught me how to prepare the infant formula and demonstrated the hygiene that I needed to follow. Above all else, they told me that they would keep supporting me, teaching me, and visiting me to ensure that I was adopting their recommendations. That comforted me to know that I would not be doing it alone.  They told me that I can raise her despite my age, and shared with me the things that have improved since the last time I gave birth. 

From that day forward, CHWs visited me constantly and nurses kept checking in to see that the baby was receiving the formula in the right way. The infant formula supported me in having food to provide the baby, but it was the constant counseling and education that I received from CHWs that allowed me to build my own inner strength.  

Through this journey, I learned that it is very important to adopt the CHWs recommendations no matter what.

You have to listen to the recommendations, know them, and memorize them. It is also so important to create relationships with others because you are able to learn a lot from them in return. I have been able to raise a child with many improvements in the health system since my last baby, such as frequency of immunization, nutrition follow ups, and many other recommendations that individuals of my generation did not learn about earlier. 

Imagine, at my age, I have been able to raise a baby from the moment of birth, and now she is already one year old.”

*This interview has been translated and edited for clarity

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