Simple, inexpensive interventions: The key to surviving to 5

Preventable, treatable causes of death threaten the lives of children who haven’t even reached their fifth birthday, as highlighted by the story of 2-year-old Emelinda in Angola.

Story by John Kisimir. Images by Jonathan White.
Published June 28, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

Drought and food shortages in the southern Africa country of Angola have failed to make headlines, but millions there are suffering. Among them is 30-year-old Laurinda, a pregnant mother of seven children.

The youngest is 2-year-old Emelinda, who is suffering from a high fever and diarrhea. Laurinda walked with her daughter down a rough, dusty road for hours to seek assistance at a health post.

The family has just one source of water. It comes from a local river and isn’t boiled.

A disturbing phenomenon

At the health post they visit, cases of severe malnutrition have doubled since last year. The trend shows no sign of letting up.

“The women do not have enough milk and wean the children too early,” an official at the health post explains.

Meanwhile, water sources are drying up amid failed rains, and the ones that remain aren’t safe for consumption. In the past month, there were 15 new cases of diarrhea at this health post alone.

Food supplies dwindling

Laurinda works with her husband, Joaquim, on their small farming operation. But the devastating drought has destroyed the crops they were going to harvest.

“The crops have failed; we planted five hectares but have harvested just one sack of maize,” says Laurinda. “Normally, we would harvest over 100 sacks of maize and beans.”

The pregnant mother’s anxiety is evident in her expression. “We are eating just once a day — but the little food we have will not last until [the] next harvest.”

Survive to Five™

These children and single mother from the same village in Angola are also affected by the drought, food shortages, and lack of access to clean water.The story of Laurinda, her unborn child, and little Emelinda illustrates the life-threatening health risks that young children can face at the hands of poverty before they even reach the age of 5. These threats include severe malnutrition, diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and others.

If a child is able to reach this crucial age, his or her chances for survival increase dramatically.

That’s why World Vision has launched the Survive to Five™ Challenge, which aims to raise awareness of the children who are at risk because they lack access to simple interventions that could save their lives — such as access to clean water, basic nutrition, vaccinations, and other essentials.

Because of World Vision’s long history of expertise in helping to save children’s lives, we’ve been awarded grants that will triple the power of all donations to this critical challenge. By funding basic interventions like insecticide-treated bed nets, neonatal care, and nutritional assistance and training, we can help ensure that children reach their fifth birthday — and beyond.

The ultimate goal is that stories like those of Laurinda and her children are ones we won’t have to tell in the future.

Learn more

View this photo blog that captures some of World Vision’s global efforts to improve child health and help vulnerable children survive to 5.

Read more about Child Health Now, World Vision’s global campaign to end preventable child deaths.

Two ways you can help

Pray that the international community wouldn’t turn a blind eye to children like Emelinda who suffer in poverty because of preventable causes.

Make a donation to the Survive to Five Challenge. Because we’ve been awarded with government grants, any gift you give will triple in impact to help deliver life-saving interventions to children at greatest risk — like insecticide-treated bed nets, therapeutic food, vaccinations, clean water, and more.