What a difference a year can make! Somalian refugee community leader Mire Ahmed Adu Rahman explains, “Last year there was measles and hunger; there were storms that would take the houses away. There was a shortage of tents there was nothing but problems. But now the dying time is over thanks to God. This year, there is life.” While media updates are becoming more scarce since the famine officially ended twelve months ago, we at GlobalGiving wanted to feature a couple of organizations that have continued to provide support and relief to the people of Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti.
Meeting the nutritional needs of the thousands of children that were affected by this famine is Edesia, Inc. They are a non-profit producer of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTFs) such as Plumpy’Nut which is a densely packed, nutrient rich peanut paste. These types of foods require no refrigeration or water making it very simple to ship and distribute to children, families and communities in need. When used properly it has over a 90% success rate, and turns children from skin and bones to healthy and plumpy within 4-10 weeks. Even though the mortality rate has plummeted and great progress has been made thanks to solutions such as Plumpy’Nut, the number of severely malnourished children is still very high compared to global standards.
A huge challenge in dealing with these malnutrition rates has not been allocating RUTFs, but rather teaching the victims of this famine about their importance. The United Nations Refugee Agency quickly realized this dilemma. Not only was it urgent that they distribute these foods to the people in need, but they had to regularly train them about their bodies’ nutritional needs, especially for children. Dorothy Gazarwa, a UNHCR nutrition officer describes the difficulties, “People who for their entire lives drank camel milk had to learn that Plumpy’Nut was more efficient. Our task was cultural as well as nutritional.” An immense amount of refugees at the camps that UNHCR set up were unaccustomed to Western medicine. Some had never seen a doctor or hospital in their entire lives, and even more astonishing some did not know what a doctor was. Gazarwa goes on to say “training was about changing mentalities. It was important for us to constantly perform refresher trainings and repeat the nutrition message over and over.”
Both Edesia, Inc. and UNHCR have done amazing jobs at providing hope for the communities and refugee camps affected by this humanitarian disaster. They have helped people in the Horn of Africa look past their day to day needs, and focus on the future and what is in store. Yet their jobs are still not done. Continuous support is needed to make sure that these communities remain healthy and strong, and that their children do not get sick again. Your donations have made it possible for organizations like Edesia, Inc. and UNHCR to administer critical relief and support. No matter how small the donation, a life has been affected by it in the Horn of Africa. Thank you!
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