Today marks week three of nutrition classes taught to the mothers of malnourished children. Every Tuesday, we gather outside of the pediatric department, huddled over a charcoal fire. We demonstrate how to make the local rice porridge with an extreme amount of nutritional value. Often, it only consists of rice and water. Some add in a little salt, sugar, peanut butter, lime, or fortified powdered milk. We encourage all of these things to be added.
Our aim is not to change their process of life in a drastic measure but instead to provide them with easy things they can do to enhance what they are already doing. For instance, fortified milk powder is extremely expensive. It’s even expensive by western standards, leaving most villagers without access to essential vitamins and minerals. Thankfully, there is local tree that grows wild in the plains of Chad that has all these nutrients that can be thrown in this morning power dish! It is locally sourced and costs 5 cents for enough to nourish a large family for a day.
After lecture, we feed all children who are malnourished by CDC and WHO standards (these levels are slightly adapted for the normal baseline here). Most children are at the hospital for malarial treatment rather than solely malnutrition. Both malaria and quinine (malaria medication) cause dehydration, low blood sugar, lack of appetite, and vomiting. This causes even more malnutrition in already disease susceptible bodies.
Wish us luck and prayers as we continue feeding these children who desperately need both to survive. I pray that these mothers see the importance and difference in how to prepare their daily meals, ensuring the success of this young generation.