Uganda: „My heart bleeds whenever I see a sick or malnourished child“

Berlin / Kampala, 22. July 2021

Uganda is home to approximately 1.4 million refugees. A large number of them are women and children from the neighboring country South Sudan. Amin, a South Sudanese woman, cares for malnourished and undernourished children by counseling mothers and helping them to improve their nutritional situation.

Nema Yar Amin with three of her children
Nema Yar Amin with her children.

Nema Yar Amin has also been living in the Rhino refugee camp in Uganda since 2015. She has four children of her own and cared for another 13. The South Sudanese has a passion for children: "It makes me happy when I see healthy children who are strong and enjoying their lives. My heart bleeds whenever I see a sick or malnourished child. Children are innocent humans beings who deserve to be happy and enjoy life," Amin says. However, in refugee camps, children in particular often suffer from malnutrition and undernourishment, making them more susceptible to disease. The number of children among the refugees is high. 65,000 children were registered unaccompanied or separated from their parents. The refugee situation in South Sudan is not called the children's crisis without reason.

Treatment of malnutrition by community health teams

Her love for children inspired Amin to volunteer with a community health team. The team was founded by the organisation Community Empowerment for Rural Development (CEFORD) and is part of the Johanniter regional project that supports people affected by the crisis in South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda.

"I screen children below 5 years by measuring their upper arm. I also look out for malnutrition signs among children like body weakness, thinness, diarrhoea and a swollen stomach," says Amin. For the check-ups, she goes from house to house, identifying malnourished children and referring them to the nearest health facilities for medical care. Through follow-ups, she ensures that the children receive the medical care they need.

Balanced nutrition as basis for a healthy childhood

In addition, Amin enrols the malnourished children in CEFORD's feeding programme. Here they receive a package of nutritious food, including a maize-soy mix, sardines, peanuts, and milk. "I teach mothers to make nutritious porridge for their children and I also encourage them to give it to their children at least thrice every day supplemented by other available foods. With this, I am rest assured that the children are fed on a balanced diet that can help them heal from malnutrition," says Amin. In addition, she educates the other mothers about balanced nutrition and its benefits in preventing and curing malnutrition. To ensure a healthy diet, she advises the women to start a vegetable garden. Here they can grow food to supplement the food ration of maize meal and beans they receive from the World Food Programme. "With access to a variety of foods, mothers can ensure that they provide their children adequate amounts of the nutrients necessary for good health and growth," Amin explains. She hopes that CEFORD will continue to support people in the future to further fight malnutrition, which is widespread in the Rhino refugee camp.

The project is financially supported by the Federal Foreign Office.


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Refugee with her kid

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