Kulthum and Farha beat malnutrition and are able to play again
In Sudan, 35.5 per cent of children under the age of five face the risk of malnutrition annually and fail to reach their full developmental potential. Malnutrition in Sudan has many causes including poverty, conflict, lack of adequate food and access to basic healthcare services.
Proper nutrition contributes to promoting the growth and learning capacity of children, and motivates them to contribute and engage in their communities. Farha is a young girl who suffers from severe acute malnutrition. She lives in Fur Baranga village in West Darfur. On her way to get treatment, her mother shared her story with us.
“The day of my daughter's birth was a special day in my life. She looks like me and I love her so much.” – Kalthoum Sheikh id-Deen
The beginning of the journey
Farha came into this world 18 months ago, bringing happiness and joy to her mother and family. She is the only daughter of Kulthum Sheikh Al-Din, 32-years-old. Farha has four male brothers. She lives with her family in Fur Baranga, a village in West Darfur State, western Sudan, and which is situated at the border with Chad. Farha's father works in the Fur Baranga market to make a living.
“From the first day, I could feel that our relationship was special and that there is a bond between us, both body and soul. At first, Farha was weak, and I felt that she was in need of emotional care and protection, so I slept next to her all night and hugged her. I know that breastfeeding is essential to give my daughter good health. Farha received all the necessary vaccinations on time at the Center of Fur Baranga Hospital. She did not suffer any health complications, just some childhood diseases such as coughing and mild diarrhoea, so I did not have to go to the hospital. I consulted the doctor to receive appropriate treatment, and sometimes used conventional treatment, but with caution, “ says Kulthum.
During the summer, Farha’s health began to deteriorate. She had a high fever, cough and diarrhoea. More alarming was the fact that Farha refused to be breastfed or eat any kind of food. Kulthum realized by that time that her daughter was not well, and she immediately consulted the doctor. They both were transferred immediately to the Fur Baranga Hospital Stability Centre.
“I gave Farha all the care and love that she needs and more. She is my only daughter.” – Kulthum Sheikh id-Deen
On the first day in hospital, Farha received therapeutic nutritional milk and medicines, supplied by UNICEF, that are used to help treat severe and acute malnourished children. The medicine helped improve Farha’s health condition.
Doctors at the centre provided advice and guidance to Kulthum on the importance of hygiene and hand washing with water and soap, and other information about health and nutrition.
“Gradually, Farha started to recover and became engaged with her brothers and played with them. I followed all the instructions, continued to give the care she needed, and fed her until her health condition improved. I didn't realize that it is important to play with one’s children, but the doctor advised me to play with Farha at home, so I bought toys from the market and sometimes made them myself at home. Recently, I learned that playing with children promotes their intellectual development, “ said Kulthum.
In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kulthum has become more cautious. She follows health advice and guidelines such as hand washing and physical distancing, and avoids going to gatherings in order to protect herself and her family.
UNICEF supported Kulthum and Farha by providing health services and treatments at the health centre for free. Last year, and with the help of UNICEF, her children have also received school supplies to support their education.
With thanks to European Union Humanitarian Aid for their generous support which contributed to saving Farha’s life and will help provide many other vulnerable children with treatment, care and the opportunity to survive and thrive.
- Hashim Jum’a and Hadeel Agab ‘Ashshi
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).