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A Time to Grow

Apsan was almost two years old and weighed just 5.8 kilograms (about 12 and a half pounds). His mother, Anjana, had been feeding him the same rice that she and her husband ate for their meals, but he just wasn’t growing. She was worried but had no idea what to do.

One day Sita, a community facilitator working with Shanti Nepal visited the family. “They were desperately poor, hopeless, and in pathetic condition,” she reported. “The boy’s father worked as a daily wage laborer for next to nothing; the mother had never attended school and was struggling to cope.” Sita counseled them on nutrition and basic hygiene, pointing out simple things they could do to improve their situation. She also persuaded Anjana to take her son to the health facility for a check up.

Anjana was scared — scared of what might be wrong with her baby and scared of getting scolded for being a bad mother. But the health worker was kind, and spoke with her gently. Carefully examining the boy, he told her that Apsan did not have a terrible disease and he didn’t need medicine. The problem was that he was malnourished. “Don’t worry,” he said, “You can help him all by yourself!”

But I don’t know anything,” Anjana said. “You can learn,” he replied, and the learning began.

With the help of a village nutrition volunteer trained by Shanti Nepal, Anjana learned to make a nutritious homemade mixture called “super porridge,” containing the perfect balance of protein and calories for malnourished children. She was happy that it required no extra money, since all the ingredients — corn, wheat, soybeans — are inexpensive and available in the village. She began feeding this porridge to Apsan twice a day, in addition to the regular family meals.

The nutrition volunteer stopped by regularly and monitored Apsan’s progress, measuring his arm with a colorful measuring tape. Anjana felt encouraged and empowered.

Meanwhile, Sita made follow-up visits too. At her suggestion, Apsan’s father dug a small plot for a “kitchen garden,” and he built an outhouse so his family no longer has to share one with others. Sita encouraged Anjana to join the local community group, and once she did, she received seed money to start a goat-raising project.

The best news is that Apsan is growing! Within four months he has gained 3 and a half kilograms (almost 8 pounds). As he plays around the house, his father grows vegetables and his mother happily takes care of the goats — whose number has grown from the original three to seven! There is energy, motivation and confidence in Apsan’s family now, and their future is brighter.

Gifts to DDHCFN help partners like Shanti Nepal bring life-changing possibilities to families like this one. This organization has been working to bring about wholistic transformation in marginalized communities since 2003. Collaborating with local groups and government bodies, Shanti Nepal has made lasting impacts through its sustainable projects in health, water and sanitation, nutrition and food security.


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