Two hour walk with a malnourished child

Two hour walk with a malnourished child

You're a mother. Conflict grips your country. Food is scarce. Where do you take your malnourished child to get help?

The ongoing conflict in South Sudan has led to thousands of families relying on the support of organisations such as Tearfund to provide emergency food and clean water in order to survive.

In Uror County, some 250 miles north of the capital Juba, many mothers carry their malnourished children for two hours in each direction to reach a feeding station to collect highly nutritious 'Plumpy-Nut' - a peanut based supplement which can keep a child alive when they are so weak they can't digest normal food. In the dry season the paths are hot and dusty and in the wet season, they become sticky mud and sometimes water as high as your waste.

These journeys are not one-off trips, they require a number of visits before the child reaches a healthy weight. Until recently, some mothers were walking for four hours to reach a feeding centre.

MAF pilot Reinier Kwantes lands at Motot in South Sudan to deliver wood planks for Tearfund's three new Nutrition Feeding Centers

MAF recently flew from Juba to Motot in Uror County with a full cargo of wood destined to build durable storage facilities at three new feeding centres.
It's important that these structures are completed before the rains come as the roads will soon become mostly impassable and without these storage facilities the new feeding centres won't have enough supplies to see them through.

In Modit, which is 7-8 miles from the Motot airstrip, Tearfund set up a temporary location in front of two small tukuls (mud huts), with a scale and blue sling hanging from a tree branch for weighing babies.

Chol was severely malnourished

Chol Dak's 11 month old baby is weighed at only 5.1 kilos and is severely malnourished. Chol visited the new Modit nutrition feeding center for the first time to receive help for her child who was given Plumpy'Nut and medicine for diarrhea. ..Tearfund works in Uror County,Eleven month old Chol (pictured) was weighed and found to be severely undernourished and suffering from diarrhoea. To gain a target weight in the next two weeks Chol needed 18 packets of 'Plumpy-Nut' per week. She was also treated with antibiotics and a de-worming tablet.

Chol's mother, who has three other children, said that the next nearest clinic was 58 miles away. Without Tearfund and MAF making this feeding centre possible, Chol would have been another tragic statistic in South Sudan's ongoing troubles.

Why aircraft are vital

Joseph Duduka, Nutrition Project Manager for Tearfund in Uror County, South Sudan

Tearfund's Nutrition Project Manager, Joseph Duduka understands the value of MAF to his work.

'I've been here almost a year. If it wasn't for MAF, I don't think we would be having a programme, because we wouldn't have the supplies, and nutrition is a supply-based programme. In every way, those women and children are connected to MAF through our programme, because imagine if we didn't have supplies, we wouldn't be doing something here.'

If it wasn't for MAF, I don't think we would be having a [feeding] programme, because we wouldn't have the supplies.

Joseph Duduka, Tearfund Nutrition Project Manager, South Sudan