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Bringing Baby Peter Back to Health

As World Food Day approaches, celebrating the children who have overcome deadly hunger
Mary and Peter
Little Peter, pictured with his mother Mary, recovered at an Action Against Hunger health center in West Pokot, Kenya. Photo: S. Hauenstein Swan

Editor's Note: This piece is the first in a series leading up to World Food Day on October 16th. We're proud to be highlighting some of our nutrition success stories from West Pokot, Kenya, and wish to extend our gratitude to partners UNICEF and ECHO (The European Community Humanitarian Office) for supporting these programs.

Baby Peter cannot sit still. Each time his mother, Mary, sits him down on her lap the two-year-old wriggles free and runs away giggling.

Mary pretends to be annoyed, but the big grin on her face can’t hide her amusement as she gets up to chase after him again and again.

A child at risk

A few weeks ago it was a very different story as little Peter had no strength whatsoever. He was suffering from severe acute malnutrition and was weak and lifeless, unable even to raise his head or smile. Mary had been very scared that he was going to die.

Mary first noticed there was something wrong with Peter a year ago when he caught a fever. Shortly after that he developed chest problems and was growing thinner and thinner as she struggled to find enough food to feed him and his siblings.

"Now, three weeks later there is no stopping Peter. He has been completely transformed into a happy and healthy toddler, running rings around his mother as he ducks and dives between the hospital beds..."

Her neighbor in Akiriamet village in West Pokot, Kenya, told her about Action Against Hunger and how we give special food to children like Peter to make them better.

When Mary brought Peter to our health center in Sigor, our team diagnosed him with severe acute malnutrition as well as malaria and pneumonia. Because he was so sick he was admitted into our stabilization center for round the clock care and treatment with therapeutic milk.

No stopping Peter

Now, three weeks later, there is no stopping Peter. He has been completely transformed into a happy and healthy toddler, running rings around his mother as he ducks and dives between the hospital beds. He's tearing into packets of Plumpy'nut, the therapeutic food that he'll take home to help maintain and even gain a bit more weight.

Mary is very happy that Peter is better, and is anxious to get home. Leaving children behind at home to look after a sick child can be a huge burden for mothers like Mary and can even stop them from seeking treatment in the first place. It’s not a simple case of picking up the phone or sending a text message to find out how they are; Mary and her family don't have the resources for these luxuries. The only way she will find out how her other children have been without her is when she goes back home in a few days’ time.

Our teams are aiming to expand their reach in West Pokot, for instance through training more community health workers, so fewer mothers will have to leave their children behind if one gets sick.

In the meantime, after everything little Peter has been through the past few months, Mary is appreciating the little victories. For her, there's nothing better than watching her young son run around as much as he likes!

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