by Lennart Hernander, LWF Uganda, Feb 2011
Jumping over the tree logs in a quiet compound, near a freshly constructed hut, Okidi Joseph, happily munches a mango. Every now and then he looks at his grandmother and innocently calls her “mother”. Her reddened eyes fill with tears as she hears him say this. Seated at the edge of a squeaking chair with her eyes on the graveyard where her daughter is buried, Amono Korina, 50, sighs and relives the nightmare that haunted the family over two years ago as though it were yesterday.
“It was just a day after Joseph was born that my daughter collapsed and died, in what I later came to know as over bleeding” she remembers. She recalls how her daughter went into labor and delivered in Omiya Pachwa camp, aided by the traditional birth attendants. “My daughter died leaving me with a one day old child” she says. “Joseph is my only hope in this world, he is all that I am left with”, she firmly adds.
Joseph was too young to eat so was admitted to Kalongo hospitals inpatient therapeutic feeding center for two months. He was then transferred to the outpatient therapeutic feeding center where he would come for therapeutic food every week for one month. After this, he started losing weight and was looking frail. Four months ago, a village health team member referred Joseph to the health center for assessment and he was found to be moderately malnourished. He was enrolled in the LWF Community Based Supplementary Feeding project and given food rations. Amono was trained in preparation of nutritious child diets. Joseph’s weight increased steadily from 6.8 kgs when he was first enrolled to 9.3 kgs when he was discharged three months later. Back in the community, Joseph’s nutritional status, like that of all children in his village, is being monitored regularly such that any relapse can be discovered and responded to in time.
The LWF Community B ased Supplementary Feeding project is part of the “integrated management of acute malnutrition” strategy. So far more than 7,683 children in Pader have benefited from this program. The families are supported with supplementary food, and are trained on preparation of nutritious meals together and other health related topics. The mothers whose children recover form “Community Care Groups” they become champions of nutrition in the villages. These mothers reach out to other mothers, and train them on what they have learned. Through this strategy, this region’s people will triumph over malnutrition, and hopefully such children as Joseph will live healthy lives and keep the hope of a better Uganda alive.