Kenya - malnutrition

A mother's journey to feed her children

Families can often face difficulties in taking their children for treatment, something which mothers in West Pokot, Kenya, know about all too well. We are proud to share our Kenya series, focusing on our nutrition success stories from West Pokot.

By Action Against Hunger

Jan 15 2014

Leah sits under the midday sun cradling her little son Dennis, the youngest of her ten children. Four-year-old Dennis is suffering from malnutrition and the mother and son are attending their weekly check-up appointment at an Action Against Hunger health centre.
 
Recent droughts in West Pokot, Kenya, have had a huge impact on Leah’s family and thousands of others like hers. Poor rains have caused crops to fail resulting in significantly smaller harvests, which has been devastating for Leah and her family. With a lack of animal milk and food, Dennis has been diagnosed with Severe Acute Malnutrition –the most deadly form of hunger.

The challenges of providing for ten

Leah says: “My whole family are constantly hungry as we have to survive on just two small meals a day.” Their two meals a day are always the same - wild vegetables and ugali, a traditional cornmeal dish.
 
She continues: “I knew that my children were not getting enough to eat and so I had to make the decision to send one of my sons to live with a relative to ensure that he would be well-fed and educated. It was very sad to have to separate my children but I knew I had to send him away in order for him to stay alive.”
 
Leah has also had to face challenges to ensure that Dennis receives the treatment he needs to make a full recovery from malnutrition. Leah walks for hours to bring Dennis to the health centre in Chesta every Thursday so he can be monitored, weighed and measured by Action Against Hunger Community Health Workers.
 
She explains “It takes us four hours to reach the health centre on foot but it is worth it so Dennis can get the help he needs to recover.”

Timely treatment brings hope for a healthier future

From the health centre Leah is able to collect enough supplies of Ready to-Use Therapeutic Foods to feed Dennis for the following week. Luckily, Dennis was referred to the health centre in time for him to receive the treatment he needs to make a full recovery. Action Against Hunger Community Health Workers who have been monitoring Dennis believe that he will be fully healthy again very soon, which is fantastic news for Leah and the rest of the family.
 
Leah says: “My only hopes for the future are that Dennis is healthy again and the rest of my family are no longer hungry.”
 
Action Against Hunger’s trained community health workers are located all over West Pokot to help diagnose and treat malnourished children just like Dennis. Teams are helping more families than ever before and aim to eventually reach every family in the region, so no child is ever hungry or undernourished again.

Child in West Pokot Kenya
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Editor’s Note: We're proud to be highlighting some of our nutrition success stories from West Pokot, Kenya, and wish to extend our gratitude to partners UNICEF and ECHO (The European Community Humanitarian Office) for supporting these programs.

Photo Credit: © Samuel Hauenstein Swan