A Second Chance at Life

The story of one baby’s survival in eastern D.R. Congo

Chance Segorundo is an 11-month old boy from the village of Shasha in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. He began to lose his appetite in October when his mother became ill and was no longer able to breastfeed him. This past December, after his mother died, he stopped eating altogether.

As he became weaker, Chance’s body began to swell, a sign of severe, acute malnutrition. With his mother gone, his father André, a soldier in the Congolese army, had no choice but to stay at home to care for his sick son and other children.

"When he got [to the nutrition center], he would barely touch the milk they offered him, but now his appetite is back, and his progress is giving me hope." —Andre, Shasha, Eastern D.R. Congo

Concerned about Chance’s health, André took him to the outpatient nutrition center Action Against Hunger supports in Shasha's health center, near their home. There, a nurse diagnosed Chance with kwashiorkor, a swelling of the feet common among malnourished children in D.R. Congo. Because his condition was so severe, she referred Chance to Action Against Hunger’s therapeutic Stabilization Center at the nearby Kirotshe General Hospital for around-the-clock care.

At the hospital, Chance was treated with therapeutic milk formula and Plumpy’nut, a ready-to-use food specially designed for acutely malnourished children. Chance’s father stayed with him at the center while his other children were cared for by relatives and neighbors in the area.

“At the hospital, I was worried because I missed my wife, and my children were so far away,” André said. “But I was happy because I could see that my son was getting better…when he got here, he would barely touch the milk they offered him, but now his appetite is back, and his progress is giving me hope.”

After eight days of treatment, the swelling in Chance’s body disappeared and his appetite has returned. Back at home, he now receives weekly check-ups at the Shasha health center, where his progress is measured and he's given ready-to-use foods to eat at home.

André’s experience with Chance has taught him a valuable lesson that may help others in his village. “If I ever see that a neighbor’s child is getting too thin or is showing the same symptoms as my son, I’ll tell them to go straight to the Shasha health center!” he said.