Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana

by Americares Foundation Inc.
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana
Reducing Malnutrition among Orphans in Ghana

To prevent malnutrition among Ghana’s orphaned children, AmeriCares launched One Child One World, a five-year pilot program helping vulnerable children aged 0-18 months living in 30 residential homes. Ghanaian organizations Hope for All Foundation and Youth and Social Enterprise Fund joined the effort.

Our team found that compared with children living with families, twice as many children in the homes were underweight—an alarming statistic when you consider the serious health consequences that arise as a result of malnutrition, including increased susceptibility to diseases, and delays in physical and cognitive growth. The team also discovered that caregivers in the homes needed training on issues such as hygiene, nutrition and addressing the emotional needs of orphaned children.  At the same time, we continued sending deliveries of nutrition-packed cereals.

The AmeriCares team and partners worked with local experts to create lessons for caregivers to improve their knowledge of children’s health and nutrition. Some instructions were simple, such as making soap and water more available to children to prevent the spread of disease. Others were more complex, such as finding sustainable local sources of low-cost, nutritious food. Working together, the teams trained representatives from the 30 participating homes.

Now, real lasting change is taking hold. Not only are children in the homes steadily gaining weight, but more than 100 caregivers know what needs to be done — and are sharing that knowledge with others. The lessons can be used in orphan homes across Ghana.

What’s growing here — knowledge and healthy children — will benefit generations to come.

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AmeriCares One Child One World Program
AmeriCares One Child One World Program

AmeriCares One Child One World™ Program

AmeriCares has continued its work to improve the nutritional, health and hygiene conditions of orphaned and vulnerable children in 30 residential homes in Ghana through its One Child One World™ program, launched in 2011 in partnership with Hope for All Foundation and the Youth and Social Enterprise Fund. Today the program is serving 1,800 newborns and children up to age 18, an increase of 20 percent since it started, and the number of course treatments of nutritional supplements has grown four-fold. Vaccinations have been administered for both the orphans and their caregivers.

To improve the quality of care, AmeriCares has developed standardized caregiver training, in partnership with Ghana Health Services and the Department of Social Welfare, and has already trained more than 100 caregivers.

In addition to continuing with the ongoing delivery of nutritional, health and hygiene support, the program going forward will focus on the completion of caregiver training and the formation of a caregivers’ association to advocate on behalf of orphans, vulnerable children and their caregivers. The program will also continue to investigate local sources of sustainable nutrition for the participating homes, working in partnership with the Ghana Health Services, the University of Ghana Nutrition Department, and other corporate partners.

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Naomi, Ghana
Naomi, Ghana

The founder and head of the Royal Seed Home in Tema, Ghana, Naomi, knows exactly how it feels to be a street child – she herself was one. Now, she has dedicated her life to helping children who are just like her and with the aid of the One Child One World™ program, she is able to address the issues of malnutrition among the children in her home.

The AmeriCares One Child One World™ program in Ghana works to address the nutritional and health needs of vulnerable children living in orphanages across the country. Now in its third year, the pilot phase of the program is targeting 30 homes across the country that serve 1,800 children and their 300 caregivers.

When she was a teenager, Naomi began taking in younger street children to share her one-room apartment and train them in dressmaking. “These children are just like me,” she explained, “They grow up outside society and they have no social protection. We all have the same story.”

Naomi’s inspiration to start the Royal Seed Home came to her in a dream where she was feeding an endless line of street children. She woke up knowing that was her calling in life. She immediately began raising funds to establish her home. 

Today, Royal Seed Home is home to 150 orphaned and vulnerable children who are cared for by 28 caregivers. The home is mostly community-funded and has very limited access to resources to care for the children. Through the AmeriCares One Child One World program, Naomi and her staff have received regular deliveries of nutritionals and hygiene products that have contributed to providing even better care to the large and ever-growing family at the Royal Seed Home.

Results from the program baseline show that 29% of children living in homes are considered underweight and 17% are considered “wasting,” or extremely underweight. These levels are about twice the levels found among Ghanaian children outside of homes. 

AmeriCares partners with Hope for All Foundation and the Youth and Social Enterprise Fund to deliver fortified meals and nutritional supplements to strengthen the nutritional status of the children. To date, more than 100 caregivers have been trained in child development, basic health and hygiene and nutrition. AmeriCares has also delivered more than 5,000 course treatments of nutritionals and over 517,000 XANGO meals since the project began.

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Naomi, founder and head of Royal Seed Children
Naomi, founder and head of Royal Seed Children

One Child One World™ Program

 

AmeriCares continues to support the health and nutritional needs of orphaned and vulnerable children in 30 residential homes in Ghana through One Child One World™, a program launched in 2011 in partnership with Hope for all Foundation and the Youth and Social Enterprise Fund. During the second quarter of fiscal year 2014 we shipped more than $250,000 of nutritionals in support the program.  We continue to provide health and nutrition training to 300 caregivers and to work on identifying a sustainable local source of nutrition. We are also encouraging the homes to develop small-scale food projects that could not only provide nutritionals but also be income-generating.

 

Following is a story about Naomi, the founder and head of Royal Seed Children’s home in Tema, Ghana, one of the 30 participating homes in One Child One World™.

 

Naomi herself was once a street child.  Born to a family with limited resources, Naomi wasn’t able to regularly attend school because her father did not want to invest in education for girls. Instead, she did farm work and sold goods on the road and in the train station to help her family survive.  However, Naomi was committed to getting an education, and saved some of her money in order to periodically attend vocational school, without the support of her parents.  This experience inspired her to work with street kids, many of whom had a similar story.

 

One night Naomi had a dream of giving food to an endless line of children, and woke up inspired to take action. Naomi took in four younger street children to live with her in the single rented room where she lived. She fed and sheltered the children, helped them attend school, and taught them some basic income-generating skills, such as dress-making.

 

Today, Naomi’s Royal Seed Home is government-registered, includes a primary school, and is filled with 150 children of all ages.  Many of the children are orphans, but many others are former street children or come from families who are unable to support them for economic, health, or other reasons.  The home receives support mainly from private donations from individuals in the community, churches, and businesses, as well as limited government funding.

 

Naomi has told AmeriCares how much the training provided through One Child One World™ impacted her and her staff. Among the most important lessons she learned was how to care for children who come from challenging circumstances, and how to listen to them and build trust.  Seven of the home’s 28 caregivers attended the first caregiver training in spring of 2013. Naomi thought it was important to involve several members of her staff to empower them to expand their knowledge and to then teach others what they’d learned about nutrition, health, and child development.

 

Another lesson learned from the training was the value of developing small home gardens to fortify the children’s meals with plant nutrition.  After the trainings, Naomi and her staff were inspired to plant a garden in a vacant 20-acre field owned by the home. They are now growing sugarcane, bananas, and spinach, and the children not only have better-rounded meals, but they also learn about maintaining and caring for the garden.

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Sub-Saharan Africa is home to an estimated 53 million orphans – 12% of all children in the region. Most orphaned children are taken in by extended family, but with almost half of Africans living on less than a dollar a day, these children often become an unmanageable burden. As a result, a large number of orphans end up living in residential facilities.

To help address the needs of the children in these facilities,AmeriCares is partnering with the Hope for All Foundation and Youth and Social Enterprise Fund  in the One Child One World™ project, a four-year initiative that focuses on improving nutrition and health for orphaned and vulnerable children ages 0 – 18 months, living in 30 residential homes in Ghana.

Ghana has seen a marked  increase in the number of orphaned and vulnerable children along with a high demand for supportive care and housing. With growing demand, many supportive care facilities are experiencing severe resource constraints, including limited access to well-balanced and nutritional meals for children.   

“Children living in these homes are twice as likely to be malnourished.”

Since the launch of One Child One World in July 2011, AmeriCares has delivered four shipments of nutritional supplements, infant formula, and personal care and hygiene products.  At the end of 2011, nearly 600 children had benefited from the program, including one little boy by the name of Kofi.

Left: Kofi upon arrival. Right: Healthy, happy Kofi

Kofi arrived at Royal Seed Home, one of our recipient facilities in central Ghana, when he was 5 months old. He was drastically underweight for his age and suffering from malnutrition. Thankfully, at the same time Kofi arrived at Royal Seed Home, so did AmeriCares first shipments of nutritional supplements.

 In one month’s time, Kofi had gained nearly a pound and caregivers were already noticing other improvements in his health. By the end of March 2012, after four months of receiving nutritional supplements, Kofi had gained 10 pounds. He is now nearly 20 pounds, a healthy weight for a child his age.

Kofi is just one of thousands of children in Ghana who suffer from malnutrition. Research conducted for the One Child One World™ project revealed that children living in these 30 residential homes are twice as likely to be malnourished compared to their Ghanaian counterparts living outside the homes. This is an alarming statistic when you consider the serious health consequences that arise as a result of malnutrition, including increased susceptibility to serious diseases, along with development delays in physical and cognitive growth.

Through the  One Child One World™ project, AmeriCares is giving children like Kofi the opportunity to live happier and healthier lives.

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Organization Information

Americares Foundation Inc.

Location: Stamford, CT - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AmeriCares
Project Leader:
Jon Hillery
Senior Associate, Institutional Relations
Stamford, Connecticut United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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