“Fighting malnutrition is not as easy as it sounds. It requires, not just feeding these children, or ensuring they get nutrition every day. It involves the big challenge of rehabilitating them as well as their families,” says Richa Sinha from Fight Hunger Foundation.
Baby Mohan (name changed) was acutely malnourished when our team first met him in 2016
Baby Mohan’s case:
When baby Mohan seen in the above picture was detected by the team in a place called Shahbad in Rajasthan, he weighed all of 2 kg, his arms were wasting away and his eyes reflected pain and suffering deep within. He was so malnourished, that he did not even have the energy to cry and whine.
Thankfully, severe malnutrition can be cured. We immediately enrolled baby Mohan into our nutrition program, provided him with energy dense therapeutic food and admitted him in an intensive medical care program.
Our community workers followed up diligently and ensured that he does not return to an under nourished state once again. They counselled his mother on taking care of Mohan’s nutritional needs, helped the family set up a kitchen garden where they could grow green leafy vegetables.
It took Mohan three weeks to recover and today he is healthy, playful and has got the glint back in his eyes.
Baby Mohan from being acute malnourished to a healthy baby
Unfortunately, not every child shares Mohan’s fate, and many of them are never rescued.
Life in rural Rajasthan can be very harsh due to extreme weather conditions and scarcity of drinking water. Some families have to deal with this reality on a daily basis and migrate to nearby locations in search of a job and income, to keep their kitchen hearth running. However, they continue to live in challenging and unhygienic conditions with unsafe drinking water, little or no healthcare services and in make-shift tents. Triggered by limited availability of nutritious food, their children therefore become extremely vulnerable to disease and occupational health hazards. It is a sad truth that many of them may not reach their fifth birthday, given the severity of malnutrition.
Without any help, they are at an imminent risk of dying.
The onset of summer will see a sharp rise in the number of children becoming malnourished due to the lack of basic needs like drinking water and nutritious food, leading to infections, diarrhoea, sun stroke and ultimately triggering acute malnutrition.
Here’s where Fight Hunger Foundation plays an important role.
“We have emergency relief teams trained and posted in areas that are more likely to be impacted by the heat. Our teams identify children and households that need nourishment. We then categorize the malnutrition as severe, moderate or normal, and based on this analysis ensure they receive care, nutrition rehabilitation, therapy, or even medical attention,” Richa continues.
Over the years, many children in pockets in Rajasthan, MP and Maharashtra, from over 450 villages and 2 slum pockets have been rescued. They have not only been saved from dying of malnutrition, but have also been rehabilitated so that they do not fall prey to it again.
“Of course there are challenges. Malnourishment is cyclic, and goes down generations from mother to child, if they survive. In pockets with such a dire need, we cannot just give them the required ration and leave them to themselves. We are talking about households where there are 4 to 5 children, sometimes more. We cannot just provide them with ration for one child and expect them to not want their other children to also have good food. So we have these nutrition rehabilitation programmes. Now, most of these people are daily wage workers. They cannot afford to miss a week’s pay, and are unable to bring their children here. Under these conditions, our responsibility towards these children increases. We must find better ways to reach them and save them.”
FHF believes that we cannot let our nation’s children die of a curable disease.
Team FHF says, “It only takes Rs. 5,000 to provide therapeutic treatment to an acutely malnourished child. Any amount of contribution will go a long way in saving lives. Please come forth and support us to provide a healthy and bright future to our children. Your entire contribution will be used towards our life saving activities in Shahbad, Rajasthan, and we will send you regular updates on the programs. We would love to have you visit these villages and have a first-hand experience of the impact you have helped us make.”
Here is an amazing song by Sonu Nigam for Fight Hunger Foundation: