Building a Healthy Foundation for Children February 2, 2015 by Carolina For Kibera
By: Madison Hayes, CFK Intern, American University
Nutrition can make a huge difference in a child’s health. In Kibera, where preventable diseases like severe diarrhea are common, having a strong developmental foundation through nutrition is an essential aspect of both individual and community health. That’s why CFK founded the Lishe Bora Mtaani Nutrition Center.
Since the Nutrition Center opened in May of 2013, Community Health Workers have reached 4,195 children through door-to-door screenings for malnutrition, of which 193 have been admitted to the center’s feeding and education program. The center was founded with the purpose of reducing the rates of severe acute malnutrition in Kiberan children under five years old by 50%. Truly reducing malnutrition in children requires getting them the right nutrients every day, especially after leaving the center. Staff members at the center work to bring children back to full health, but also teach families how to keep their children healthy through workshops on smart shopping and nutrition classes. Children also participate in educational and social skill-building activities. Each child gets the care and treatment they need to make a full recovery.
In August of 2013, one of those children—Prince Enock—was admitted to the Nutrition Center for symptoms of malnutrition. Over a year later, Maryanne, a CHW, and I weaved through the streets of Kibera on our way to Prince’s house for a follow-up appointment with him. Patrick and Philomena, Prince’s parents, welcomed us into their home to talk about the progress Prince has made since leaving the center and the impact the program has had on their family.
Prince was admitted to the center after CHWs asked to screen their household during a routine door-to-door visit. When measuring Prince’s arm, they discovered that his growth patterns were indicative of severe acute malnutrition. The CHW referred Prince to CFK’s Tabitha Clinic who then referred the family to the center. At the Nutrition Center, the staff focused on getting Prince back to full health, using methods that included adding micronutrients to his food. Prince’s three month tenure at the center, which began when he was nine months old, helped his weight increase from 6.1 (about 13.5 lbs.) to 8.4 kilograms (about 18.5 lbs.), which put him back on the right track!
When I asked Philomena about the greatest change she has noticed in Prince after his discharge from the center, she stated that there was a large increase in his appetite, which she attributes to his continued health. His parents, both teachers, also said that he continued to grow in weight and height, which they consider positive outcomes as well.
The family—which includes Prince’s siblings Ephraim (age 7) and Ester (age 5)—are also recipients of a hand-washing station through CFK’s hand-washing installation initiative, a collaboration with Ronald McDonald House Charities that aims to bring clean and easy-to-use hand-washing facilities directly to Kiberan households. Their interaction with both programs has improved their hygiene behaviors in the household. “We used to boil water, but we did not have a facility to draw clean water from,” explained Patrick. Philomena noted that with the proper container and training, the water they drink is “not contaminated” and is now “clean.” When I asked Patrick if he could say one thing about the nutrition and WASH programs, he stated “I want to commend them for assisting the children in the community.”