Thankful for FOOD

  |   Posted: October 31, 2019

At 12 years of age, Elisha weighed only 46 pounds — more than 20 pounds underweight for a child his age! Learn how the staff at Elisha’s Compassion center invested in Elisha and hundreds of his peers suffering from stunted growth caused by malnutrition.

Elisha standing in the doorway of his house

Across Rwanda, children growing up in poverty are suffering the physical effects of chronic malnutrition. When a child lacks nutritious food, he suffers both physically and mentally. His growth is stunted and his cognitive abilities are impaired. Too often his health and education suffer. In too many cases, the damaging effects of malnutrition are permanent.

The Rwandan government has placed a priority on alleviating malnutrition, with the hopes of halving the number of malnourished and stunted children by 2024.

But for children like Elisha, 2024 is too far away.

During a health screening at his Compassion center, Elisha’s weight and height were measured. At age 12, he weighed just 46 pounds. The average child his age weighs closer to 85 pounds. The results concerned the staff, who immediately put him on a three-month program of nutrition support. During those three months, Elisha’s daily diet was supplemented with two liters of milk, two eggs, fruit and nutrient-rich porridge.

By the end of the three months, Elisha gained 13 pounds! His mother, Domithilla, was thrilled with the results. “Elisha is my oldest child,” she says. “We were so grateful when his weight increased rapidly.”

Elisha is just one of the many children Compassion Rwanda is committed to help fight chronic malnutrition. Longin Ndayizeye, Compassion Rwanda’s Health Program Support Specialist, reports that identifying and assisting children with chronic or acute malnutrition is his department’s No. 1 priority.

“We offer training to the staff of our church partners so that they can identify malnutrition cases,” Longin explains. “Besides offering nutritional support to children identified with chronic or acute malnutrition, we encourage caregivers to form groups so that they can support each other by sharing the available resources. For example, if one has a cow, they can share the milk with a neighbor. If they have hens, they can share their eggs.”

Elisha with his family

Each child’s family, including Elisha’s, has also been given the resources to plant a small kitchen garden.

“We are lucky we received training from the center staff on how to prepare nutritionally balanced meals with the little food we have,” says Domithilla. “We have also been taught the importance of cultivating a kitchen garden with vegetables like cabbage, greens and carrots.”

Recently, Elisha received a birthday gift from his sponsor, and the family was able to purchase a hen.

“I’m so grateful to Elisha’s Compassion sponsor, because the eggs we get from the hen supplement the milk that we get from the neighbor for Elisha and his siblings. My prayer is to have my own cow one day. We not only get milk from a cow, but also cow dung, which is good fertilizer for the kitchen garden.”

Elisha is still receiving nutritional supplements from Compassion, but each day his family comes closer to being sufficient because of the support they have received from Compassion.

“Today my children have nutritionally balanced meals,” says Domithilla. “They are healthier every day!”

If you would like to learn more about providing food for malnourished children and families in Compassion’s program, click here.