When Christian Children's Fund staff first visited Brian and Edwin’s home in the drought-stricken Baringo District of Kenya, they found both children severely malnourished. At first, Edwin looked healthy, until he stood and his distended stomach and swollen legs became apparent. Brian and Edwin were immediately taken to the hospital for emergency treatment. Both were identified as kwashiorkor cases; Brian being more severely affected than Edwin.
Three-and-a-half-year-old Brian weighed 20 pounds while his younger, two-and-a-half-year-old brother Edwin weighed 26 pounds. The two brothers were a sight to reckon.
When their parents divorced, the children were left with their grandparents who are elderly and poor. The grandparents own one acre of land that is unproductive due to the area's terrain and drought. They don’t even own a cow for milk. [Note: Most rural, pastoral families rely on cattle to provide their daily sustenance.]
In addition, because of the drought, the boys' grandmother can no longer find day jobs tilling the land and the family's financial situation worsens still.
Because of widespread malnutrition, CCF expanded its monthly growth monitoring program to include all children, age five and under, regardless of whether they were enrolled in CCF programs. Brian and Edwin are typical of the additional children who are now being helped by CCF.
|Although improving, Edwin (in blue shirt) and Brian still require medical support and supplementary feedings.|
When CCF first intervened, Brian was hospitalized for about one month so he could recover from illnesses related to malnutrition, including a case of tuberculosis that doctors discovered during his hospitalization. Brian, like his brother Edwin, has since improved.
Both boys still require close monitoring, though.
CCF-Kenya continues to support both children with:
- medical support;
- supplementary feeding;
- nutritional education for caregivers.
In addition, CCF has also referred the children to the Ministry of Health's Department of Nutrition, which now makes regular follow-up visits.
Through these interventions, Brian now weighs 27 pounds and Edwin weighs 34.
Like Brian and Edwin, children suffering from malnutrition due to the drought and food crisis in Kenya, continue to need close monitoring, feeding and medical attention. They also need clothing and improved shelter.
Long-term, many families will need to learn improved modern farming methods and procure help to restock their dead or sick cattle. Those same families will require additional and substantial support to ensure that children return to school, continue their education and mature into healthy young adults.
[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.]