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Making our first donation of 10,800 nutrition packs to malnourished children in Malawi.

Karen Sadler, Pediatric Nutrition Advisor to 2 Degrees

The faces of seriously malnourished children are the same the world over: large, sunken eyes, few smiles, a listless look. Never the boisterous, constant movements of a well child, but a quiet head, resting on the shoulder of a mother, aunt or even a slightly older sister.  Arms and legs are thin, and dangle from a swollen middle. For the children of Africa, dark and strong hair becomes sparse, brittle and the color of copper.

I think: if this is how poorly nourished the body is, what about this 2 year-old brain? What about the learning she can’t do or the memories she can’t gather for the future? It is an emergency witnessed in slow motion.

Yet, we are today in a small community-based health center with our colleague from Valid Nutrition. It is a place trying to change this tragedy. I have seen this model of community outreach in 4 countries now, and help to support one in the Dominican Republic, and I am impressed. This center, in Nsaru, is clean, organized, and focused. Despite a waiting area crammed with women and small children, lines are formed and the small ones are processed through 5 stations.

At the first, children are weighed in a piece of colored cloth suspended from a hook in the ceiling. Next, a length is taken, then, the circumference of their mid-upper arms. The presence of edema is assessed. Edema is fluid that leaks from the blood vessels when there is not enough protein to ‘hold it in’, and gives the children a puffy appearance. For children who are in need of immediate nutritional help (but not so severely malnourished as to need hospitalization), the next stop is the Valid Nutrition trial station. Here, a spoonful of thick, super-nutritious peanut-based paste is offered. If the child accepts it (and one who is hungry and not otherwise ill with malaria or another serious condition usually does), it is theirs at the next station. A mother is asked to sign for a week’s worth of paste, assuring a visit in the next week and close follow-up by the staff of the center.

The message this effort sends is a good one: we care about and value your children. We have bothered to come where you live, and did not expect you to walk long distances to find us. We want the futures of your children to be brighter and healthier, starting today.

Karen Sadler at the Nsaru Health Center

Women waiting with their at the Community-based Therapeutic Care (CTC) Center

Women waiting with their children at the Community-based Therapeutic Care (CTC) Center

The weigh station

The weigh station

A volunteer checking for edema

A volunteer checking for edema

Valid Nutrition packs at the trial station

Valid Nutrition packs at the trial station

6 Responses to Karen Sadler, Pediatric Nutrition Advisor to 2 Degrees

  1. Leigh Firn says: 

    What a vivid description of the poorly nourished of Kenya. Thank you

  2. karen cadenhead says: 

    You have made me cry. What a beautifully written piece, explaining the plight of the mothers and children faced with too little food. At least I feel good about the centers and what can be accomplished. Thanks for being there.

  3. Pam Wiseman says: 

    What an important effort. This chain – from bars to nutrition packs – is obviously doing alot of good for the poor children. Thanks for supporting!

  4. Steven Marshall says: 

    am fwding this to Anna; maybe she’ll want to be involved in this worthy ‘doctoring’.
    love to you Karen

  5. Freda King says: 

    you give of your craft and of your heart – thank you for the work that you’re doing, karen.

  6. Natalie Allen says: 

    This is just awesome. Hooray!!!!

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