Kashindi sits silently on a bench, her gaze fixed on the floor, a stoic expression revealing the resiliency within. Her third pregnancy has been much more difficult than the others. Rapid breathing, dizziness, weakness, a lack of appetite — these symptoms plague Kashindi as she cares for her young children in the refugee camp where they live. And she’s worried about what it all means. Will her baby be born healthy? Will she have the strength to care for all her children?
“It’s normal to have fear, since during the delivery there are two things — life or death.” Kashindi Manuel, age 25
At 7-months pregnant, Kashindi makes regular visits to the nearby Medical Teams-supported hospital. She cradles her growing belly as she moves from room to room, pausing to gaze through an open window at the activity of the mothers and children surrounding the clinic.
At one stop, a health worker reminds Kashindi about ways to stay healthy during pregnancy — avoid lifting heavy objects, wash your hands, come to the clinic for regular check-ups. In a private room, a nurse checks Kashindi’s vital signs to monitor her and the unborn baby for signs of distress.
On visits when she’s accompanied by her young children, Kashindi is thankful that a team is equipped to track their height and weight to make sure they are growing well. And whenever they are sick, medicines are readily available. Her family was even supplied with mosquito nets to keep them safe from malaria.
Kashindi’s final stop during her clinic visit is the one that will send her home with the greatest peace of mind. One that will give her the tools to respond to her children’s rumbling stomachs and growing bodies. One that will help her unborn child receive the nutrients needed for the best chance at a healthy life.
Before they return home, every child under age five and every pregnant woman who comes through the doors of the Medical Teams’ growth monitoring clinic pays a visit to Loveness Shanelo.
Loveness stands over a mattress-sized vat piled high with a thick, yellow powder. It doesn’t look to be much more than flour, but in reality it’s a mighty tool for keeping children healthy and thriving. Loveness smiles, knowing that her worn-out apron is a testament to how many lives she’s enriched by distributing this powerful food.
It’s called SuperCereal+ and it’s packed with the ideal calorie count to help young children grow.
Prepared from heat-treated maize, soya beans, sugar, dried skim milk, and loaded with vitamins and minerals, SuperCereal+ is rich in nutrients and serves as a valuable complement to breastfeeding for children under age two and a value supplement to the general food rations consumed by older children and pregnant women.
Using her sturdy scoop to measure out a two-week ration — enough to supply a mother with SuperCereal+ until her next visit to the clinic — Loveness smiles as she serves each woman who enters the room. After their sacks have been filled with food, the women take a seat on benches nearby to chat and wait for Loveness to join them at the front of the room.
Brushing the grains of SuperCereal+ off her hands, Loveness transitions from distributor to teacher. She knows that it’s not enough to give these women a hand-out. The women and their children deserve so much more — they deserve to be given the knowledge to help themselves, alongside the tools to make it happen. So Loveness teaches them about the benefits of SuperCereal+. She explains the best ways to prepare it. Children and adults both like the taste of SuperCereal+, and that makes Loveness’s job much easier. It also frees up time to share about other topics — reminding the mothers about sanitation and hygiene so that food doesn’t become contaminated and cause illness.
Even the mothers of children admitted to the hospital for IV treatment of severe malnutrition receive this extra guidance. Alongside the life-saving medicines and emergency therapeutic foods, mothers are encouraged to continue feeding their babies SuperCereal+ regularly with a cup and spoon. That way, the young children stay in the habit of consuming healthy foods and the mothers are equipped with the skills to support the nutritional needs of their children once they return back home.
And Loveness smiles at her window, knowing that SuperCereal+ along with the training she shares and the medical support available results in most of these malnourished children making a full recovery.
Even though she’s been ill, Kashindi is very excited to welcome her new baby. She’s thankful to know that Medical Teams is dedicated to helping make sure she has a safe delivery, and to provide the nutritional support necessary to keep all her children from suffering the risks of malnutrition. “It’s a good clinic,” she says. With women like Loveness dedicated and eager to serve her, women like Kashindi are free to focus on feeding and caring for the children they love.
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