The safe home is a frenzy of bustling activity these days! We are currently caring for six active and inquisitive toddlers, as well as a few quiescent infants that pass their time observing and smiling at the whirl of motion surrounding them. It’s not surprising that, although we serve children age birth through 5-years, most of our clients are under the age of 3. Malnutrition is most likely to impact the 12 to 36 month age group. This period of vulnerability is partly linked to the transition from exclusive breast or formula feeding to complimentary feeding. Complimentary feeding begins at age 6 months, the age when breast milk or formula alone fails to meet the nutritional demands of the growing infant. For healthy growth and development, complimentary foods need to be appropriate, accessible, affordable and adequate. For many families in Lesotho, this seemingly simple recipe for growth and development is unattainable.
Malnutrition that is not corrected in a timely manner leads to stunting (decreased height) and impacts all aspects of child development; in acute cases it can lead to death. In fact, malnutrition is the underlying cause of death for approximately 50% of children under the age of five; their nutritionally stressed bodies and immune system are unable to cope with the added burden of illness.
Very recently, TTL was awarded a partnership grant from UNICEF to strengthen our nutrition and child development activities. We are thrilled by this opportunity! This project will enable us to tackle malnutrition, and its sequelae, in a more holistic manner. We will be able to provide more individualized developmental and nutritional knowledge to the caregivers of the children supported by both the safe home and the outreach program.
Everyday, we witness the amazing resiliency of infants and children as they flourish when provided with adequate nutrition. We watch children who have fallen behind on their developmental milestones surge forward as their strength and energy are renewed.