Food distributions are a ray of light in the urban jungle

by Katja Weber,  2011/09/07

The largest slum of Nairobi – according to some, the largest of entire Africa – is called Kibera. This name is derived from the word “kibra”, which means forest or jungle. And it is indeed a jungle of corrugated iron roofs, with about one million of inhabitants.

Or maybe there are only 700,000 women, men and children… the opinions of statisticians vary regarding this issue. In the end, the exact number is not important to or our local partner AMREF, since every single one of the young and old patients who attend their Integrated Health Station in the middle of the slum is important to the colleagues working there.

Corrugated iron roofs as far as the eye can see: the largest slum of Nairobi, where humedica and AMREF have initiated a nutrition programme. Photo: humedica/Katja Weber

In the framework of the famine relief measures at the Horn of Africa, on Monday, September 5, 2011, humedica and the partner organisation AMREF initiated a nutrition project in Kibera. Although Nairobi is not located within the crisis area, the consequences are still clearly noticeable in Kibera.

More and more people are moving to the slum. They come from those regions where drought and famine prevail; they are looking for food, work and a better life. And for a start they end up in the urban jungle.

Currently, AMREF is treating 172 undernourished children at the health station. This is certainly only a fractional part of those living in the shacks of the slum. Some of the children are real miracles of God. For example Ruth and Kennedy: they were premature twin babies, their mother gave birth to them at home. At home means within a tiny corrugated iron shack without windows, electricity or running water, and presumably even without a bed.

When one of the Community Health Workers of AMREF (note: a kind of voluntary community assistant) saw Ruth and Kennedy for the first time they were already six weeks old and weighed only 1.2 and 1.1 kilogrammes. Today, at the age of seven months, they have reached a weight of 5.6 and 6.2 kilograms.

Their mother suffers from aids, but according to the tests that have been done so far the twins are HIV negative. A similar fate is shared by little Ann: her mother also suffers from aids. Tests that were done during pregnancy revealed that she had contracted the virus. Ann is her first child and she is overjoyed that the little girl’s HIV tests have turned out negative three times.

She nursed the baby for six months, but then she was afraid she would pass on the disease to the infant. She cannot afford to buy food or drink; in the meantime, Ann is one year old and weighs six kilogrammes.

By means of food distributions, the voluntary assistant brings a ray of light into the darkness of the urban jungle. Photo: humedica/Katja Weber

For the next six months, we will provide food to children like Ann, Ruth and Kennedy. The mothers and their children will visit the Integrated Health Station once a fortnight and they will receive oil-enriched cornmeal and infant food that has been donated from Germany: infant mash, milk powder and energy-rich dietary supplements.

Patiently, the nutrition expert keeps explaining how to feed the vegetable mash and how to prepare the special milk powder. With her friendly manner and the gifts of food she brings a small ray of light into the urban jungle.

Thank you very much for this dawn of hope we can offer to the people at the Horn of Africa thanks to your support from Germany. Please continue supporting humedica’s relief measures in East Africa by means of a targeted donation. Thank you very much!

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference “Famine relief Africa
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also support us in a secure, fast and simple way by means of sending a text message: send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and you will make a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica relief projects.

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