“I don’t know what this child wants,” she said. “Maybe he wants to breastfeed, but I cannot do so, because I have a 6-month-old pregnancy, and according to our tradition, I am not supposed to breastfeed when I’m carrying another baby in the womb.”
Tradition and local myth are in part what caused such trouble for Harriet and her son. “I stopped breastfeeding this child about five months ago,” she said, “but before I realized that I was pregnant, I was breastfeeding him. As a result, he began to suffer from masato.”
“Masato” is the traditional name for a disease that locals believe afflicts children when their parents are accused of committing infidelity. Incidentally, the symptoms of this imaginary illness are similar to those of malnutrition. Thus, children like Swangirai are often tragically misdiagnosed and never receive the care they need to recover from what’s really ailing them.
“The child needs special feeding to address the situation; otherwise, [he] may eventually die,” explained Betty. “His immune system has been weakened, thereby exposing him to other sicknesses, like the diarrhea which he is also suffering from.”
Swangirai was given a ration of Plumpy’Nut®, a nutritionally fortified paste used as a fast-acting solution to malnutrition. As the boy began to eat, he quickly stopped crying and even smiled after a few minutes.
“He is pulling my fingers to push food in his mouth,” Harriet observed. “Now I understand that my child is hungry.”
“A lot of children’s lives have been saved because of [this nutritional program],” said Betty. “[But] there are high levels of malnutrition...and the need is still high because each day, several new cases are received at the eight health centers where we operate.”
Wise, another nurse at Siansowa Health Center, noted that a lack of knowledge, combined with poverty, means that many children are all too familiar with hunger.
“It is worrying that due to the challenges families are facing in the rural communities, parents are unable to feed their children properly. They give them the same food eaten by adults, which does not help in any way. As a result, many are dying from malnutrition-related illnesses,” said Wise.
World Vision continues raising awareness of the global food crisis and our efforts to address this emergency — through food distributions, agricultural training and support, and advocacy for legislation that benefits those affected by the crisis. In the name of children like Swangirai, we invite you to join us.
>> Please pray for the ongoing recovery of Swangirai, and remember the countless other children like him who continue to suffer from hunger and malnutrition at the hands of the global food crisis.
>> Make a one-time donation to help provide life-saving food and care to children like Swangirai. Your gift will multiply four times in impact to provide interventions like nutritious food, agricultural support, and more to those in greatest need.
>> Give monthly to help provide assistance to children suffering from hunger. As a Child Crisis Partner, you can help save the lives of children hit hardest by the global food crisis, like Swangirai.
>> Contact your members of Congress. Ask them to support the Global Food Security Act, which would make a significant contribution toward reducing hunger by investing in sustainable agriculture and nutrition programs.
|Watch a video about a World Vision food distribution in another African community struggling with extreme hunger and malnutrition.|
Four ways you can help
|Please pray for the ongoing recovery of Swangirai, and remember the countless other children like him who continue to suffer from hunger and malnutrition at the hands of the global food crisis.|
Make a one-time donation to help provide life-saving food and care to children like Swangirai. Your gift will multiply four times in impact to provide interventions like nutritious food, agricultural support, and more to those in greatest need.