The battle to save twins from malnutrition in Mozambique

Amina’s husband abandoned her right after she gave birth to twins, who have struggled with chronic hunger and malnutrition ever since. World Vision is working in their region to counter this epidemic that affects 40 percent of children under 5.

Story and photos by Antonio Matimbe, World Vision Mozambique.
Published September 13, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

Sitting on a grass mat in the corner of her clay, grass-roofed house, Amina holds her two babies. She looks at them and breathes a sigh of relief.

“By this time, I could not imagine my children would be alive,” Amina says, smiling while tears of joy roll down her face.

Judina and Esmenia, just 9 months old, are slowly recovering from severe malnutrition, which has threatened them since birth.

“They were crying every time and fighting for the breast,” Amina recalls. “They did not smile, play or do anything [other] than cry. All my life stopped because they were sick.”

Multiple sources of suffering

The sickness was, in fact, extreme hunger.

“I was not providing enough milk to feed them,” Amina explains. “It was an empty stomach [that was] killing my children.”

She says that the troubles arose from complications in her pregnancy. “I was so sick during the pregnancy and I could not feed myself as I should, and that led me to this situation.”

When the children were born, Amina’s husband abandoned her, leaving her alone to raise the twins and four other children. As a mother who had already lost three other children, she was terrified.

“I was afraid they [Esmenia and Judina] would die also,” she says. “I don’t know if I could survive [if they had]. It is a lot of death for a single mother.”

Desperate to keep her children alive, she tried everything. “I used to grind peanuts to prepare porridge for them. So young they were. They could not eat.”

A life-saving intervention

Every month, she went to the health center, but the twins continued to lose weight.

“The nurse told me to look for help at World Vision’s office,” Amina recalls. “World Vision promptly gave me 10 cans of milk for them. After a while, when my babies could eat something, a World Vision assistant came to my house who taught me how to prepare nutritious meals for my children.

Amina prepares a meal for her children using peanuts.“He was so patient with me,” she continues. “He regularly came to see the children’s improvements and to talk with me about good practices to feed them.”

Because her husband left, there was no one to take care of her field, where she used to grow maize, peanuts, and cassava.

“As I am alone now, the solution was to do odd jobs in my neighbors’ gardens,” says Amina. “In return, I get some money to buy maize flour, sugar, and other ingredients to prepare food for my children.”

A bigger problem

Chronic malnutrition is a serious problem for children under 5 in Mozambique. Four in 10 children there are malnourished.

“It is responsible for taking [away] so [many] early possibilities of children developing to their full potential of growth and intelligence,” says Antonio Santana, a World Vision health coordinator.

To address this issue, World Vision has created and trained groups of mothers whose mission is to teach their peers how to prepare nutritious meals for their children.

“The issue here is not about the lack of food, but how to combine them to have nutritious meals, and this is the key point of our work,” Santana adds.

‘I can’t express my gratitude’

Amina (left) stands with her children.Amina and her infant twins have benefited greatly from World Vision’s efforts.

“The health condition of my daughters started to improve step by step,” Amina says. ”Just look at the kids now. [They] are growing and their weight has increased a lot. This to me is a clear example that came from World Vision to help children within our community.”

On behalf of her daughter, Amina says, “I can’t express my gratitude to World Vision for the helping me to save my children. If you could open my heart and see my happiness, you would understand what I am talking about.”

Inspired by World Vision’s work, Amina knows what she wants for her twins to do when they grow up.

“If my wishes come true, I would like to have them [to be] working at World Vision for all [World Vision] has done for them,” she says. “They are alive thanks to World Vision — and if [they are] working there, they will have an opportunity the help other children.”

Three ways you can help

Thank God that Amina’s twin daughters, Judina and Esmenia, are in the mend from their battles with malnutrition. Pray that their health would continue to recover and that other children affected by chronic hunger in their region would receive the care they need.

Make a one-time gift to World Vision’s Lifesaving Food and Care Fund. Your donation will support our efforts to bring crucial assistance to children suffering from hunger through interventions like emergency food, clean water, nutritional training, agricultural support, medical care, and more.

Sponsor a child in Mozambique. Your love and commitment to a boy or girl in need will help foster stability for the present and hope for the future through life-giving basics, like access to nutritious food.