Burkina Faso: a mother’s determination
By Monique Morazain, Project Officer, Burkina Faso
The trip from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, to the town of Kaya takes only a few hours but it instantly feels like a world away.
The air-conditioned office and bustling streets quickly give way to barren fields where I see a woman carrying a baby on her back under the scorching sun.
I’m heading into the rural area near Kaya to visit one of the health clinics that Save the Children has been supporting.
Normally based in Toronto, I’ve joined the long-standing Save the Children team here for a few weeks to help respond to the devastating food crisis. It really is all hands on deck, as we submit requests for vital funding, and start to scale up our work to match the increased need.
Buzzing with activity
It’s early morning but the clinic is buzzing with activity; mothers are talking between themselves, while health staff are monitoring the nutritional status of children and providing mothers with their weekly rations of ready-to-use therapeutic food.
As I talk to the mothers it becomes clear that they have felt the brunt of this year’s poor rainy season as they express their concern about not having enough food to provide for their family.
One woman I met was called Aguirata; she is 30 years old and has four children. Aguirata’s story emphasised to me the dedication of a mother to keep her child alive, despite all odds.
Aguirata’s son is 15 months old and was identified as malnourished by one of Save the Children’s community health workers during a screening.
The first thing she told me was how worried she was when she learnt that her son was malnourished – often children’s stomachs swell when they are malnourished, leaving many mothers unaware that they are suffering from debilitating malnutrition.
Once Aguirata had learnt of her son’s condition, she took him weekly to the local nutrition centre where he was weighed and his appetite checked.
However, her little son was only able to swallow small amounts of food and after a few weeks, his condition deteriorated.
He was instantly referred to the hospital in Kaya. There he was treated for pneumonia and spent 11 days in the intensive unit of the nutrition centre.
Thankfully he pulled through and Aguirata returned from Kaya and continued to visit the local nutrition centre.
No food, no income
Hearing how Aguirata struggles to feed her four children and herself, yet still managed to leave her home and family and make it to the hospital with her incredibly sick child was humbling.
Aguirata’s problems began last year when her family harvested only a small amount of crops because of the poor rain.
Left with no food, she was forced to look to the markets. However, with no food to sell for income, she found it increasingly hard to find money to buy enough for her family. Add to that, the soaring prices of staple foods like millet and sorghum, and I realise it’s down to her strength of will that her children are alive and her son survived.
Aguirata’s hope is that her baby will become stronger and stop falling sick. She knows that Save the Children’s nutrition programme is helping him to do just that.