These days, you will seldom see Ikimatand his older brother, Esinyen, without their containers in their hands … Ikimat with a big tin can, once used for food, and Esinyen with a clear plastic bucket. The containers are the lifelines these boys use to receive the UNIMIX — fortified premix to be added to corn soy blend or other flours — meals and water, which Christian Children's Fund is providing to children showing obvious signs of malnutrition.
|Nine-year-old Esinyen (left) and three-year-old Ikimat suffer from a form of severe malnutrition called Kwashiorkor. |
The two children live in a village known as Puch, in the Loima division of Turkana district. It is one of the districts hardest hit by the drought and resulting famine that has Kenya in its grip once again.
Ikimat and Esinyen’s family are pastoralists, meaning that they herd livestock, moving from location to location in order to graze their animals.
But now, because of the drought and destruction of grasslands, the family has lost their livestock, which is its sole source of livelihood and way of life.
Desperate, the boys’ father, Ekidor, left the family to travel to another district in search of support from relatives. Seeing her sons deteriorate from malnutrition, the boys' mother, Ayanae, brought the children to a clinic.
Three-year-old Ikimat was very weak and dehydrated. By the time his mother got him to the clinic, he could neither stand nor walk. Esinyen, who is nine years old, was suffering from second-degree malnutrition.
In addition, they are both suffering from a form of severe malnutrition called Kwashiorkor. The signs of Kwashiorkor are unmistakable: bloated belly, swelling of the joints, hair thinning and discoloration, and stunted growth.
After receiving first aid at the clinic, Ikimat was referred to CCF’s Early Childhood Development center in Turkana where he receives UNIMIX meals and water.
Ikimat is now able to stand, and both boys smile and play with the other children. This play is a sign of hope for them, as well as for others like them.
- At the CCF Early Childhood Development center, the children receive supplementary food daily. The program, which is run by CCF and UNICEF, targets 11,000 children under five years of age through 36 centers in four divisions of the Turkana district.
- The children are monitored every month for their growth and they receive Vitamin A supplements from the Ministry of Health.
The Needs of Children, Families and Their Communities
Like so many children in Kenya, Ikimat and Esinyen need food assistance for the whole year, adequate clothing and water both at the Early Childhood Development center and at home.
However, it’s not just the children who are desperate in this Kenya drought.
Two elderly, handicapped visitors come to the CCF Early Childhood Development center every day during meal times and they are served alongside the children.
The major problem for CCF is sustaining the ever-increasing numbers of people needing even the most basic assistance.
[Note: Although abundant rains have fallen throughout Kenya, previously drought-stricken areas of the country are still in the midst of a food crisis because crops can not be harvested until June. Until then, these communities will continue to rely on humanitarian aid for daily sustenance and survival.]