Tearfund currently runs 27 nutrition centres in three counties of South Sudan. In most cases, with the right treatment, people make a full recovery.
‘I’m very happy when I see that those who have gone through our programme, are cured, discharged, and able to take up their normal activities. That is satisfying for me,’ says Feleke.
But there is more work to be done. As long as factors like conflict, flooding, and diseases like coronavirus and malaria are present, new cases of severe malnutrition will no doubt continue.
A vicious cycle
‘Malnutrition affects people in so many ways – and it starts in the womb,’ says Anthony Rama, who leads Tearfund’s work in South Sudan. ‘A child who is conceived and not fed properly already is set up for a lifetime of difficulties.
‘They are not able to grow and reach their full potential. It affects their productivity – they are not able to do manual work, such as farming, when they become adults. And it affects their ability to engage in economic activities where you also need to be strong mentally.
‘So the likelihood of them being poor as adults is high, and it means there’ll likely be another generation who are conceived in malnutrition, being born and growing up with its effects. Some say the effects of malnutrition are cyclical, they go from generation to generation.’
So, what can be done to break that cycle?
As well as our work at nutrition clinics tackling the obvious and visible effects of severe malnutrition, Tearfund also works alongside communities informing them about the dangers of malnutrition and what can be done to avoid it.
We provide access to clean drinking water and share best practices for good hygiene and sanitation. We also run peacebuilding workshops, to address one of the root causes of malnutrition: conflict.
‘We’re helping communities to reconcile, so people can rebuild their lives,’ says Anthony Rama.
By working together and addressing the different root causes of hunger we can begin to see long-term change to this devastating cycle that keeps people in the grips of poverty.
‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.’ (Matthew 25:35)
We lift up to you all our brothers and sisters across the world who are hungry. Heal those who are sick from malnutrition. Thank you for your goodness and provision to us, and show us how best we can respond to your call on our lives to help those who are caught in cycles of hunger.