Horn of Africa: Baby Michele recovering from malnutrition

In Kenya, 6-month-old Michele is finally putting on weight with care and food from World Vision. She is just one among so many children who have suffered from extreme hunger and malnutrition in this region long affected by drought and food shortages.

Story and photos by Lucy Murunga.
Published December 15, 2011 at 12:00am PST

Dire conditions

Baby Michele was wasting away.

When she was 6 months old and weighing less than 6.5 pounds, World Vision alerted her mother, Ana, that her daughter was in serious danger.

Together, they were quickly transported to the nearest hospital in Kenya, more than 12 miles from their home.

“My child was very ill,” recalls Ana after two weeks in the hospital with her daughter.

Baby Michelle was not only severely malnourished; she also suffered from vomiting and diarrhea.

‘Miracles’

The infant was immediately put on therapeutic food and milk fortified with proteins and vitamins to help stabilize her health.

In two weeks, Michelle had gained more than 2 pounds and showed great strides in her recovery.

“The milk and the medicine the nurses gave my child performed miracles,” says Ana.

But this is only the first step in Michele’s recovery. When she is discharged from the hospital, she will receive additional rations of high-calorie, nutritious therapeutic foods like Plumpy’Nut™ — a vitamin-fortified peanut paste.

Then, with World Vision’s help, Ana and Michele will make regular trips over the next two months to the outpatient center, where medical staff will ensure the child is making adequate progress.

Long-term care

World Vision's Eugene Longit cares for Michele at the outpatient center.One of the main obstacles children face when recovering from acute malnutrition is that they are usually not the only hungry child in the family. Rations that are provided to help one child recover are often shared with siblings who are also hungry.

In an effort to make sure children recover completely, World Vision provides food rations for the entire family for six months.

After two weeks away from the rest of her family, Ana is excited to return home.

Acknowledging that her baby could have died, she says, “I am very relieved and happy that my child is getting better.”

Eugene Longit, a World Vision nutrition project officer, says World Vision will continue to closely monitor Michele’s condition.

“We have dedicated community health workers who assist us in conducting daily home visits to make sure the children are well taken care of,” Longit says.

Learn more

Read more about global hunger and World Vision’s response.

Four ways you can help

Thank God for Michele’s recovery from the threshold of starvation, and pray that her physical condition would continue to strengthen. Pray for the many other children and families who continue to be affected by severe hunger, malnutrition, and even famine across the Horn of Africa.

Make a one-time gift to our Horn of Africa Food Crisis Fund. Your donation will multiply five times to help provide emergency food, healthcare, and other critical assistance to this suffering part of the world.

Contact your members of Congress. Urge them to support the International Affairs Budget, which comprises just 1.4 percent of the overall federal budget but provides critical assistance in the fight against global hunger, poverty, and disease.

Give monthly to provide support to children affected by hunger worldwide. Your monthly contribution will help us deliver essential support to the most vulnerable, like emergency food aid, agricultural assistance, nutritional training, and more.