Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process and Mary meals, a non-governmental organization started feeding programs in all public schools in Malawi. On the other hand, hunger may make underfive children more prone to illness and other health issues. The communities in Zwaki and Wilson villages started feeding these children on their own with Thobwa (a local drink made from maize and millet). Therefore, The Malawi United Methodist Church (COR) in partnership with church of the Resurrection (COR) from Kansas city in the USA, came in to tsupport these community based feeding programs with nutritious porridge to underfive children who do not attend public schools.
Having seen the need at feeding centers, MUMC-COR donated various kitchen utensils to Zwaki and Wilson villages. These included:-100 plastic plates, spoons, cups, 2 basin, hand washing facility, 1 big pot etc for each site.
The communities were given basic information on hygiene and disease prevention, how to plan, operate, and monitor a successful feeding program.
A total number of 104 and 134 children were screened for malnutrition using Middle Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) tape at Zwaki and Wilson respectively. Zwaki had 16 and Wilson had 19 malnourished children who were given priority to be recruited into the program.
Each site has a total number of 100 children including the malnourished who are served with a nutritious porridge once a day for the whole year to alleviate hunger and enhancing nutrition in the underfive children.
Unlike the public school feeding programs, the program also targets the maintenance of the children’s nourishment by educating their mothers or guardians on how to provide healthy foods without much expense. It also aims at normalizing the weight of the identified undernourished children.
These community-based feeding programs mobilize community members, promote mutual aid, empower program leaders, foster intersectoral partnerships among villages, community organizations and strengthen communities, and deliver health promoting messages and activities
“It’s been a good thing for the community-at-large … for the image of the church … the children and parents have a chance to socialize with new friends over here, you can sit down and chat to them ..” said local chief Wilson
“I like the whole program, it’s great. It has been a long time coming and it is great. They have had these programs in the public schools for a long time so it’s so good to see it here in our communities. May the Lord bless you and the donors!”, said one woman.
MUMC and COR, reaching out to the troubled world! As the journey continues!
By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo