Hunger Stalks the Children of Africa

I’m back now from my trip to Uganda and Kenya, but the images of the children there keep stealing into my thoughts. Pictures of a tiny boy, 14 months old but looking like 4 months, a fragile little girl with stick arms crying on a small cot, a mother cradling her sick 8-month-old son whose wide eyes follow us as we move from bed to bed in the stabilization center. Most have intravenous ports taped to a foot or a hand. We visited all these children in the center in Habaswein, a dusty town in the northeast part of Kenya some 200km from the Somali border. The sun bakes everything brown, but the stabilization center is mercifully cooler. Ten mothers and their children are there today, on clean but sparse beds arranged in rows, some recovering, most in dire need of help for severe malnutrition and medical complications like pneumonia or diarrhea.

 

I’ll be candid: this is a very tough trip.

 

Our delegation, which includes our Board Chair Anne Mulcahy, Board members Henry McGee and Bill Haber, as well as Henry’s wife and daughter, visit each bed as the head of Save the Children’s health programs here explains the condition of the children. It is hard to concentrate on anything but the kids, so small and thin, some crying, others lying listlessly in the heat. We meet a boy, 13-months-old who has just been brought to the center. He weighs under 7 kilos, or a little over 14lbs. His eyes are half closed and he only responds when his mother picks him up to move him on his tiny blanket. I try to remember when my own sons