Kingston, Jamaica – September 22, 2017: Malabsorption Syndrome – caused by the body’s inability to absorb nutrients - is not a condition which many of us know about. However, for the staff at the Mustard Seed Home, My Father’s House, in Kingston, the term forms a part of their daily lives.
This is because eight of the home’s wards have this condition, and therefore have ‘special needs’ in order to get nourishment each day.
For the past four years, the home has implemented a specialised feeding programme for these wards faced with digestive issues. Since they are unable to absorb the nutrients naturally from food fed by mouth, they rely on gastro-tubes inserted into their throats or stomachs, and special food mixes in liquid form for their nutrition.
To ensure their total care, the wards visit dieticians, who provide them with individualised meal plans based on their age, BMI etc. Typically, based on their meal plans, they eat foods such as pumpkin, carrot and Irish potato, mixed with milk. They also drink apple juice, Ensure and milk.
The food mixes and gastro-tubes are very costly, with one tube priced upwards of J$20,000 – a costly venture. It has therefore been very challenging for the home to purchase these tubes, and the different parts that sometimes break.
That is why initiatives like the Digicel 5K Run for Special Needs is so important to the Mustard Seed Home, who was a beneficiary of the Race in 2016. The donation of J$1 million that the home received from last year’s run has helped them greatly purchasing the food and tubes for the wards. Mustard Seed will again benefit from the Digicel 5K this year. Executive Director of Mustard Seed Communities Mrs. Darcy Tulloch-Williams indicated that the donation from this year’s run will also go towards the continuation of this programme, since it has to be sustained.
“The feeding programme, though expensive, is crucial for the wards. If they are not fed through this method their bodies will not be properly nourished, and this will lead to other life-threatening conditions. Care-givers receive special training in administering the meals, “Tulloch-Williams explained. “We have to train them so that they know how to insert the tube, how to prevent infections and the correct portions for the children,” She added.
The Digicel 5K Run takes place on Saturday, 7th October starting from the Digicel headquarters in downtown Kingston at 7 pm. In addition to Mustard Seeds, proceeds from this year’s race will also go to the Jamaica Autism Support Association (JASA), Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), Jamaica Association on Intellectual Disabilities (JAID) and Jamaica Down’s Syndrome Foundation (JDSF) and Mustard Seed Communities.