May 9, 2021

Ugandan mother learns how to prepare healthy meals to save her daughter from malnutrition

After two years of only being able to crawl, Fortunate can now walk, run and play with other children in the neighborhood thanks to USAID’s “Graduating to Resilience” Activity

By Olive Ngamita
Photos by Bershaza Katorobo

Every morning, Pamela followed the same routine. She would wake up early in the morning to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner for her two children. But, like many other women in her community, the Kamwenge refugee settlement in Uganda, she didn’t have the basic skills to prepare healthy meals.

In 2018, Pamela joined AVSI’s Graduating to Resilience Activity, where she received coaching in best nutrition practices, business selection and management, savings, and financial literacy in her ‘Masangi-Kakoona’ group. Sadly, for many months, she was unable to constantly attend the coaching, farming, and saving training because her two-year-old daughter Fortunate fell sick. 

"Fortunate couldn't smile, she had no appetite, she couldn't even walk, and I was afraid I was going to lose her," remembers Pamela.

As Fortunate’s health condition worsened, her mom thought it was witchcraft. The AVSI Uganda coach assigned to Pamela, Agatha Ashanti decide to take the little girl to the clinic for a nutrition screening. Agatha found out that Fortunate was suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition using the MUAC tape, a sterilizable bracelet wrapped around a child’s arm to determine malnourishment severity. Fortunate was immediately referred to a village health team, and Pamela joined a series of nutrition sessions and cooking demonstrations to learn how to address her baby’s nutrition needs.

“Fortunate’s MUAC tape readings were very alarming. I had to repeat nutrition sessions with Pamela multiple times, and I advised her to embrace the practice to save her daughter’s life,” says Agatha Ashanti.

After two years of only being able to crawl, Fortunate can now walk, run and play with other children in the neighborhood, giving Pamela time to farm. She is now harvesting good yields and managing her loan and saving promptly. 

Pamela’s household is among the 5,638 enrolled in the Activity soon to complete a 30-month cohort of engagement in livelihood training, coaching sessions, and linkages to markets to foster a food secure and resilient community. With funding from USAID, Graduating to Resilience is implemented by AVSI in a consortium with Trickle Up and IMPAQ International.