By Achel Bayisenge – Communications Manager for World Vision Burundi
Searching for a solution
Claudine was sick, and Cesarie had spent her last penny on treatment for her eight-year-old daughter without much improvement. With her limited means, the mother had struggled. She had brought her child to many different facilities, even trying some traditional healers in her area without success.
Health facilities had already told Cesarie that her child needed to be fed with a balanced diet and had even given her some drugs to try, but Claudine had not responded.
Cesarie decided to seek support from a World Vision office in her area. When Elysee Nikwibitanga, a World Vision Burundi community development facilitator saw Claudine, she screened her and found her malnourished. Elysee noticed that her hair had already turned grey and her body was swollen, making it hard for Claudine to walk.
“I could realise how Claudine’s mother was distressed and hopeless,” Elysee says. “I tried to comfort her but deep in myself, I doubted if we would make it."
Malnutrition is common in this region of Burundi, taking its toll on the health and future potential of children. World Vision’s Act for Life-saving Actions to Reach Mothers (ALARM) Project, supported by the Australian Government, is investing in solutions to improve children’s health, including nutrition programs.
When one group of children graduated from World Vision’s nutrition centres, their parents came together and pondered on how they could prevent their children from relapsing, and also help other children who are malnourished.
They agreed to start farming nutrition-sensitive crops, and found that soy was the most nutritious and suitable for their area. Hearing about the plan, World Vision’s ALARM Project supported the parents with soy seeds and fertilisers.
They started farming and upon first harvest, farmers came back to World Vision requesting more support with grinding tools and kitchen utensils. They wanted to make soy milk to complement the diet given to malnourished children.