Maheesha and Anjula’s triumph over malnutrition

Little boys Maheesha (5 years old) and Anjula (3 years old) live in the village Mayuragama in Siyabalanduwa, Sri Lanka. Both their parents work as daily
wage workers to make ends meet because their father, a farmer, and the family’s primary breadwinner, has a chronic kidney condition.Due to the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka, Maheesha and Anjula’s family is having trouble meeting the demands of their children in terms of food and schooling. The family is unable to continue their farming activities due to the rising costs and lack of fertilizers and agrochemicals in the country; as a result, the mother is now working as a daily wage worker at the nearby sugarcane factory.

Both Maheesha and Anjula are moderate acutely malnourished and are not the right weight for their age. Because rice is so expensive, their family is unable to buy enough of it and must instead eat root vegetables like manioc, yams, jackfruit, and breadfruit. They typically eat two meals a day (breakfast and dinner), usually consisting of a main starchy dish and a vegetable curry. Children only have the chance to eat protein-rich foods once a month because it is expensive to buy protein-rich foods like dry fish, fish, poultry, and eggs.

ChildFund Sri Lanka implements program activities in Mayuragama Village directly, and in August of this year, the Community Response Hub (CRH) was established there. The primary intervention under CRH is the Community Kitchen program.

Under the Community Kitchen Program, nutritionally most vulnerable groups in the community such as pregnant mothers, lactating mothers, and children under 5 years were identified as the main beneficiaries. Both Maheesha and Ajula were chosen for the community kitchen program by the public health midwives because they both fell under the category of being acutely underweight.

Under the community kitchen program, Maheesha and Ajula got an opportunity to eat three nutritious meals per week, especially with animal protein which is lacking in their routine diet. After attending the community kitchen, and feeding session continuously for about two and half months, both of their weight has improved. Maheesha’s weight increased from 11 to 11.5 kg, and Anuja’s weight increased from 9.4 to 10.2 kg.

Parents and Public Health Midwives in the area appreciate ChildFund’s Community Response Hub initiative and efforts to raise these children’s nutritional status under the Community Kitchen Program.