Fre’s fight against malnutrition

Kemueis Welde Gebriel and her grand-daughter Fre Hiluf who is just over a year. Photo: Concern Worldwide / Ethiopia.
Kemueis Welde Gebriel and her grand-daughter Fre Hiluf who is just over a year. Photo: Concern Worldwide / Ethiopia.

When Fre Hiluf from Ethiopia was just seven months old, she was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition. She was brought to a Concern and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) health centre and Fre’s little body began her fierce fight back to health. Here, her grandmother, Kemueis, tells the story of Fre’s recovery. 

“Fre grew thin and inactive”

My name is Kemueis Welde Gebriel and I am a 45-year-old widow and farmer living in Enda Mekoni Woreda in Ethiopia. I take care of my two granddaughters, Endahafty Gebru aged 12 and Fre Hiluf who is just over a year. Their mother Haftamnesh Dargo is a widow who was forced to move away from our village to find work.

When Fre was seven months, we noticed that she was getting thin and becoming inactive. Her mother brought her to the Concern/ECHO health centre and we were told she was malnourished. For seven weeks, she was treated with food and medication and slowly started to recover.

Improved child feeding practices

After Fre left the programme, we were provided with corn-soya mix to supplement her diet, as well as vegetable oil, a bar of soap and aqua tabs. I also attended demonstration events on child feeding practices and training sessions on preparing food and keeping my household clean. I now feed Fre more regularly with the porridge mix that I learned to prepare during the training sessions. The services my granddaughter received were very visible and real and I would like to say shege deama (indeed quality).

She has put on weight and is radically stronger and more active."

Fearing for Fre

Before we started the programme, my neighbours were sure that Fre would not make it and advised me not to waste my time with the health centre. However after seeing how she improved, they said to me: “”What a strong woman are you, you really helped this child back to life, what did you do to this child?”.

I’ve shown some of my neighbours what I learnt about appropriate child feeding using different crop varieties. Now they have a better understanding and most of them have good practices on feeding and hand washing."

Looking forward

Into the future, I will continue doing as I am now, giving Fre different varieties of food with injera, wet, porridge, milk, eggs and other foods. I will feed her at least five times a day and keep buying soap to ensure we have a hygienic household. 

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