“CARE saved my daughter’s life”: Fighting malnutrition in Mozambique

At 40 years old, Andarieta Titosse is a widow and mother of three children. Her youngest child, Nércia, is less than seven months old.

During her pregnancy with Nércia, Andarieta hardly had anything to eat, and there were times that she could not sleep because she was so hungry. After the birth of her baby very few things changed.

When Nércia turned four months old, she only weighed 4 lbs.

Andarieta has been struggling to survive for three years, but since last year the drought from El Niño has caused all of her harvests to fail. She and her children live off what is available in the woods. They collect wild leaves and fruit. For Andarieta, the long walks with the baby in her arms are exhausting. She could not breastfeed her baby throughout the first six months of her life, as she herself had nothing to eat.

“I knew I should breastfeed my baby, but as I had no food I was unable to produce milk,” says Andarieta.

Nércia’s two older siblings, eight and eleven years old, were born healthy.

With the help of CARE volunteers, baby Nércia was taken to Funhalouro health center. The doctors knew there was no time to waste, as she was suffering from severe malnutrition.

“I was so afraid my baby would die. The doctor told me she was in a critical state,” explains Andarieta.

Funhalouro health center has recorded 55 cases of severely acutely malnourished children since last year. According to the UN, around 100,000 children are in risk of being acutely malnourished in the coming months. Drought and the resulting lack of food – let alone nutritious food – are hitting mothers and children the hardest.

Now, Nércia receives milk in the hospital every month.

''We know that we should breastfeed our infants, and it is important that these messages are spread. But my challenge is to have enough to eat to be able to have milk to give to my child. This is the worst drought I have ever seen in my life.”

In the past few months, Andarieta has also received food assistance from CARE.

“The food fair took place at a time when I was in need of help. I'm getting milk in the hospital for my baby, but the doctors told me I have to feed myself in order to be able to breastfeed. Last month, my baby weighed 15 lbs, and I am very happy to finally see her smile and recover, “she says.

During the food fair – which allows people to essentially “shop” for food that is not currently available due to the drought – Andarieta bought flour, rice, oil, sugar and peanuts. She says she will be able to cover her family’s food needs for about two months with the food obtained at the fair.

“I hope that this drought will soon end, and I don’t have to worry about my children’s health anymore.”

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