Most people head into the New Year looking to lose weight. Not Fidea. She is 3 months old and weighs less than 8 pounds. This is a mere 60% of the target weight for her age. Delivered by our midwife in Igwachanya this fall, Fidea was born into a variety of obstacles.
As a child to poor rural farmers in Tanzania, Fidea’s livelihood will be dependent upon a family income derived from a harvest in some of the hardest farming conditions in all of Tanzania. Depleted soil, poor rain accumulation, and lack of proper knowledge of farming are all challenges to her family’s income. Neither of her parents went to school, and her school aged siblings are not enrolled in school due to a lack of funds, and an improper valuation of education. Her family’s house is made of mud and has a grass thatched roof. Bugs, rats, and mosquitoes are frequent house guests that bring with them a variety of diseases and sicknesses including malaria.
All of this is made worse by her malnutrition.
Research shows that malnourished children had significantly lower congnitive function that will last for many years into the future. This is a huge problem for Fidea and others like her that will want to compete in a developing work force. Without the proper nutrition at a young age, these children face lifetimes of reduced cognitive function.
Global Family Rescue recently launched a prenatal and early childhood care program out of a clinic in Igwachanya run by a highly trained Tanzanian midwife. In the four months that the project has been operating, 97 babies have been delivered, and nutritional prenatal care including HIV testing has been provided to 100s of women.
We have been taking care of babies before they were born, but starting in 2011 we will also be placing a strong emphasis on providing early childhood care for the babies born in and around Igwachanya to ensure that these little ones have a shot at life.
One of the things that GFR will be doing to promote early childhood development will be to provide nutritional training to new and expectant mothers to ensure that they know the basics around feeding their children. Many of the local dishes have been depleted of most of their nutritional value, but with slight modifications can provide healthy and well balanced meals.
For emergency support we will also be providing supplements designed to boost a child’s vitamin and nutrient intake while their parents learn about, and prepare for, the new nutritious cooking opportunities. We need to reverse the trends of malnutrition and get these babies up to their target weight.
There are over 500 children in the region that the clinic serves, and it is our goal that all children finish 2011 at a healthy and appropriate weight.
Here’s to significant weight gain in 2011!