Her face tells it all … so weak … no strength to open the lips. The smile belongs to Dorcas, a three-year-old girl who is suffering from severe malnutrition because of the drought and famine plaguing most of Kenya.
We enter the four-by-five foot, mud and stick house where Dorcas and her family live.
|Three-year-old Dorcas is suffering from severe malnutrition because of drought and famine plaguing most of Kenya.|
Once there were five in Dorcas’ family. But now, there are four.
Dorcas lives with her mother, who is mildly retarded, her elderly sick grandmother and a younger brother. Dorcas’ older sister died two years ago because of frequent illnesses due to malnutrition before Christian Children’s Fund began working in the community.
The quick picture of Dorcas’ small village in the Mt. Kenya area, located in central Africa, is one of abject poverty; these villagers are all squatters from different areas of Mt. Kenya. The area is so remote that it does not have essential services. The nearest accessible medical facility is more than six miles away. Because of this distance, most of the sick people resort to using traditional herbs, which are often not effective.
In addition, the village lacks water. The nearest available source of clean drinking water is in Isiolo, a village that is also more than six miles away.
No Rain, No Farming, No Food
Dorcas’ family depends on farming for their daily food. Before the drought that has now affected most of Kenya, the family grew maize, beans and sorghum. Dorcas’ uncle, Mutuma, tilled the land. But with the overwhelming effect of the persistent drought, Mutuma's crops began to fail and today he fights for the survival of his own family.
|Pictured right to left: Dorcas, her younger brother and their grandmother.|
CCF began assisting Dorcas and her family when Dorcas was enrolled last March. While their situations are improving, it takes a long time to recover from the effects of malnutrition.
CCF interventions for Dorcas and her family include:
- Twice, Dorcas has been taken to the hospital where she was treated by a nutritionist.
- To counter malnutrition, CCF is providing Dorcas with UNIMIX, a nutritious porridge mix of ground soybeans, maize, finger millet, and wheat along with some food for the family.
- The program community is also providing medicines, including de-worming medicine, cough syrup and tablets to boost red blood cells that are low due to malnutrition.
Besides food needs, this program community has assisted the family with bedding, blankets and a mattress.
In addition, CCF has solicited the assistance of a social worker from Isiolo to help monitor Dorcas' family — and the other children — in the village on a regular basis during this drought.
With these interventions, Dorcas and her brother are improving.
But the future for hundreds of thousands of children in drought-stricken Kenya hangs in the balance.
[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.]