Strengthening food and affection for undernourished children

by Ruth Bücker, Stefanie Huisgen, 2012/05/09

A protective roof against sun and rain above their head. A place to sleep and eat. Going to the doctor’s when they are in pain. Waking up in a friendly, loving and caring environment. Having the possibility of escaping a lack of perspectives and creating the foundations for a better future by means of an access to education. Those are some of the things or conditions that only one year and half ago seemed absolutely unattainable for the victims of the flood of the century in Pakistan.

Together with the local partner RSCP, humedica provided food to 1,000 undernourished children and gave them love and affection. Photo: humedica/Toni Großhauser

In summer 2010, about one fifth of the land surface of Pakistan stood under water. 20 millions of persons were directly affected by the devastating floods in various ways - not only had they lost their homes and all their belongings, but they also had to struggle with a destroyed infrastructure and crop failures.

In Sukkur it was the Indus River that was responsible for the flood. The Indus River flows through the city in South Pakistan and thousands of people live in huts in the slums by the riverside. They were the ones who were affected worst: even before the flood they barely disposed of the bare necessities of life and depended on the aid of the humedica partner organisation RSCP (Riverside Slum Children Project). Hence, after the river had burst its banks, their situation was disastrous and on the first glance seemed desperate.

By offering first emergency accommodations, regular meals and an open ear, the employees of RSCP had been at the side of the more than thousand victims since this moment of absolute despair, which for all those affected meant that they had to rebuild their lives from scratch.

Thanks to the support of Kindernothilfe, an organisation humedica had already cooperated with several times, the local employees could establish 15 so-called “Child Friendly Spaces” even during those hard ties. At those places the children were given the opportunity to come to terms with often traumatising impressions of the disaster in a playful way, they were given regular meals and had a place to play and learn.

humedica managed to strengthen the often severely undernourished children for every-day life by means of providing them with high-calorie special food. More than 1,000 girls and boys visited these establishments and spent their days in the safe and caring atmosphere of this environment. If necessary, they also received medical treatment by the humedica doctor teams which had been active in Pakistan since the beginning of September 2010.

By way of mobile hospitals, the humedica mission team members could offer medical treatment to 2,700 affected persons. The most frequent disease patterns were skin infections with festering abscesses, eye infections and respiratory diseases caused by constant humidity. Often the patients were in an overall weakened condition, a fact that could among other things be traced back to the unhygienic conditions prevailing at the camps.

Again and again, the medical teams also encountered undernourished children, who were immediately transported to a hospital and provided with special food there. After the conclusion of the disaster aid, the doctor team focussed on improving the supply situation for these undernourished children.

The children had the opportunity of coming to terms with the traumatising experience of the flood disaster in a playful way. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

Together with the local partner RSCP, five of the 15 children’s centres were supplied with food and special additional food, and 300 families received food rations. Furthermore, humedica provided the flood victims with 150 beds at emergency accommodations.

Apart from that, by establishing the “Child Friendly Spaces”, some safe havens were created for the children, where they could work up their experiences. However, the employees of RSCP supported the girls and boys not only with overcoming their trauma, but they also held classes for the children, taking their respective age into account. After some time, the undernourished children markedly regained their strength.

The common meals with the children have had a very positive influence on their health and their attitude", says head of RSCP, Munawar Gill, pleased. “We’ve realised the change above all in girls and boys that had been weak in the beginning: immediately after the flood they had been unable to concentrate due to undernourishment. Thanks to the provision with sufficient food, their state of health improved and, apart from that, they were also able to concentrate better and they enjoyed their lessons - a development that will change their future."

The disaster aid measures that had immediately been introduced in summer 2010 (medical emergency aid, distribution of canvas, food and first essential every-day goods) resulted in a long-term nutrition programme, which has recently been concluded by humedica and RSCP.

Thanks to your support, dear friends and sponsors, numerous mal- and undernourished children received necessary strengthening food and - what is just as important - care and affection. Thank you very much for your support!

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