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How we're supporting children like Lela in Malawi

Rhoda lives in the south-eastern Zomba district of Malawi with her three children. Her four year old daughter, Lela was severely underweight for years. 

Like many in the community, poor crop harvests and a lack of education around nutrition, Rhoda couldn’t always feed her children enough food.

Rhoda, with her daughter Lela at their home in Zomba District, Malawi

Rhoda, with her daughter Lela at their home in Zomba District, Malawi

“Before, Lela was malnourished, because I didn’t know how to prepare food for the children,” says Rhoda.

How a community - based programme changed everything

However, after the introduction of an innovative community-based nutrition programme, everything changed for Rhoda and her family.

The Nutrition Embedding Evaluation Programme, run by Save the Children Malawi, works with pre-schools to grow seeds to make school meals, as well as improving agriculture, cooking and hygiene in the home. 

Mothers from the community prepare maize, which is freshly picked from the community garden

Mothers from the community prepare maize, which is freshly picked from the community garden

The programme has helped teach Rhoda how to grow new high-yield crops and how to cook balanced meals. The village saving and loans element of the programme has also allowed her to borrow money to pay for her children’s schools fees or to buy fertiliser to grow crops. It’s even meant she’s been able to start a business.

"If a chid is healthy, they have deep thoughts"

Rhoda’s now preparing new foods – cow peas balls, sweet potato leaves, mashed sweet potatoes, mashed soya and soy milk – which her children are really enjoying!

Rhoda, prepares a healthy nutritious meal for her daughter Lela and her siblings at their home

Rhoda, prepares a healthy nutritious meal for her daughter Lela and her siblings at their home

Lela has now gained weight and is attending pre-school, where she gets a mid-morning meal of porridge, and is starting to become more social, curious and engaged in her learning.

“This has made me think, ‘If a child is healthy, they have deep thoughts – they might even have thoughts that never crossed your mind,’” says Rhoda. “All because they’re healthy.”

Rhoda with her daughter Lela at their home garden in Malawi

Rhoda and Lela at their home garden in Malawi

"I’ve known the advantage of getting my child in school, because my child gets to learn more, but also gets to have some porridge.," Rhoda says, " I’m very happy, because this variety of food has lessened cases of illness here at home."

Every child should grow up safe, happy and healthy. By supporting communities like Rhoda's you're helping to ensure families have the right education to support their families, giving children the best chance to grow up healthy, curious and able to thrive. 

Find out how you can help support families like Rhoda and Lela.

Lela and Rhoda’s story features in our newest TV advert, find out more about our other TV story Fatima*

*Name changed to protect identity

Imagery: Jonathan Hyams/ Save the Children

 

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