South Sudan: A Child Named War
Akur sells tea in the Aweil market. She earns an inconsistent income, often too little to buy food for her family. “If the tea is not sold then we have to spend that night without food,” she says, as we sit under a majestic tree near her house.
Like most people in South Sudan, Akur and her family are caught in a severe food and nutrition emergency. Many children in Aweil are suffering from malnutrition. Akur’s husband has no source of income, another consequence of the civil war in South Sudan. Together they are caring for their five children and their young niece, Nyariak.
Nyariak is almost two and was abandoned by her mother and father when she was just two months old. Akur has been caring for her ever since. “Nyariak is no orphan, but is a child neglected by both mother and father,” says Akur. “I renamed her Nyariak, which means ‘war,’ because her mother and father left her to me.” She loves Nyariak as her own child.
Not long ago, however, Nyariak was very unwell. “She started rejecting food and would cry all the time. She had frequent diarrhoea and vomiting.” Akur was scared and walked the two-hour journey to Medair’s nutrition site in Kuom. Nyariak was screened and diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition. She weighed only 5.7 kg (12.5 pounds) and desperately required treatment to stay alive.
Nyariak was provided with Plumpy’Nut, a peanut-based therapeutic food. “I knew she would survive with the effort of all the Medair staff,” recalled Mama Eunice, a Medair nurse at Kuom.
Aware that Nyariak was very hungry and could recover more quickly if she ate more than just Plumpy’Nut, Mama Eunice arranged for the child to also receive a highly nutritional porridge, while while also teaching the family about vital health and nutrition practices. Almost every day, Nyariak was carried by her family for the two-hour journey to Kuom to receive her essential food.
After several weeks of treatment, Mama Eunice was encouraged to see Nyariak improving. Her appetite increased and she began to laugh and play. Two months later, her weight had increased to 7.2 kg (15.9 pounds). “I was scared but you rescued her life,” says Akur.
Nyariak has suffered several setbacks. She has battled bouts of malaria and continues to struggle with malnutrition and diarrhoea. Treating malnutrition is not easy, especially in an environment like South Sudan, where safe water is scarce, access to free health care is poor, and food limited. Your gifts allow us to do all we can to go the extra mile and save the lives of children like Nyariak who live in extremely difficult conditions.
Akur is grateful for Medair’s assistance and way we have supported them through it all: “I want to give you all great thanks for your support and my special thanks goes to you for visiting my house, to Mama Eunice, and to God who inspired Medair to bring support to save Nyariak’s life.”
A monthly gift to Medair provides the kind of steady support that saves the lives of malnourished children like Nyariak. Join the journey today at donate.medair.org
Medair’s work in South Sudan is made possible with support from EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, US Agency for International Development, UK aid from the UK Government, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Swiss Solidarity, SlovakAid, and generous private donors.
This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.