Head of Gifts in Wills, Unicef UK
How including a gift in your Will to Unicef UK can help save children’s lives in South Sudan with therapeutic food.
In the city of Aweil, South Sudan, Akot stirs an enormous pot filled with peeled peanuts.
Nowadays, the world is an exciting place for Akot. Every flower can be sniffed, and every leaf is a potential toy – his world has no boundaries.
Just eight weeks ago, things were very different. For months, Akot had a raging fever and was impossible to comfort. His mother, Anyang, was already struggling to afford food for her family. Now she could no longer work.
Anyang’s family used to own a patch of land where they grew vegetables. The conflict in South Sudan forced them to move. No longer self-sufficient, the family needed more income to survive.
“To get my child porridge I have to go to the market to earn a living. However, I have not been able to do this recently because of my child’s illness. As a result, I have not been able to buy food for my children.”
Helping to tackle malnutrition
Concerned for Akot’s life, his mother took him to a nutrition centre, supported by Unicef. There he was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition.
Severe acute malnutrition is a serious condition which often leads to death. In South Sudan, over 250,000 children under the age of five suffered from the condition in 2019. The prolonged food insecurity in South Sudan now means that more than six million people have no idea when or where their next meal will come from.
For children like Akot to grow and develop, they need food with the right mix of nutrients. But when food insecurity is high, you eat what you can get.
Akot was given antibiotics for his infections and special therapeutic food to treat the malnutrition. In just eight weeks, his weight increased from 6.3 kg to 7.3 kg.
The therapeutic food Akot received is designed to treat acute malnutrition among children. It’s based on peanuts which are turned into a paste and enriched with dried skimmed milk, oil, sugar, and a combination of vitamins and minerals. The sugar, as well as adding calories, makes it appealing for children who’ve lost their appetite, which often happens when severely malnourished. With this treatment, children usually bounce back to a healthy weight in six to eight weeks.
Empowering people by providing support
“My heart is so happy. He wants to stand and walk and play,” Anyang says as she watches her son study a green leaf from the mango tree.
“Now I am able to move about freely. I can go to the market to sell some things but before I do that, I’ll prepare porridge for him then go to the market. At two, I come back and cook lunch. Before, I was not able to leave him at home and I didn’t earn any money.”
All the stress I was experiencing is now gone. I’m still so poor that I can’t even buy soap, but I’m just smiling.
“When Akot is old enough I will take him to school. I hope he becomes a nutritionist, so other children can get help, just like he did.”
Thanks to life-saving treatment from a Unicef-supported nutrition programme, Akot put on 1kg in just eight weeks. He is now a healthy 17-month-old toddler.