Aisha Suleiman: “From now on, I will not be embarrassed by the looks from the community”

Aisha Suleiman is a young woman who fled her home village in Korgi, for the nearby camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nertiti, Central Darfur. Looking younger than her 34 years, Aisha already has 7 children, and has been living in the camp for three years.

Aisha had brought her twins, Hussein and Hassan, to the so called “Center 8” Nutrition Center, as part of their treatment for acute malnutrition. “A team of community health workers had come to screen children in our neighborhood, and told me that my children were suffering from acute malnutrition”, says Aisha Suleiman. “But long time before they came, I knew something was wrong with these two boys. They were sickly, and too small with a weight that did not correspond to their age. Every time the women of the community came to visit me, they were shocked when I told them that my sons were over two years old”. Aisha went on.

Hussein and Hassan were screened and then treated through the UNICEF led “Find & Treat” campaign. The campaign aims at supporting the state Government to adequately address the malnutrition crisis in the Jebel Marra region. UNICEF in its capacity of nutrition sector lead, in close collaboration with state authorities, has co-led a child focused analysis of the needs and gaps across nutrition, health, child protection and food security and livelihood sectors. The analysis resulted into a comprehensive multisectoral response plan now implemented as the “Find & Treat” campaign.

Aisha Suleiman with her two years old twins boys: Hussein and Hassan. The two boys have been screened and found with Severe Acute Malnutrition

During the first days of the campaign, launched in late June 2017, over 42,000 children under the age of five were screened in West and Central Jebel Marra. Hundreds were found suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). UNICEF and its partners ensured that all children identified with SAM were either admitted in outpatient therapeutic programmes or stabilization centres or received treatment through the routine community management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) programme.

Hussein and Hassan had been referred to the “Centre 8” of the Nertiti IDP Northern camp where they were receiving therapeutic follow-up for a month. After a first screening to assess their status, Aisha was provided with Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for her children, whilst she received psychosocial support as well as nutritional guide for the children.

The twins Hussein and Hassan sitting on their mum’s legs, are holding pack of RUTF. RUTF is a tasty, energy-packed paste made from peanuts, oil, sugar, milk powder and vitamin and mineral supplements.

“The centre also gave me practical advice on how to safely feed the children on a daily basis, says Aisha. They also supported me psychologically support. Due to the poor state of health of my children I was despised by the community as an irresponsible mother, unable to take care of her children.”

Two weeks later, during their second appointment at the nutrition center, Hassan and Hussein were recovering well and their progress is visible. The kids are now full of energy and more playful: “I have rediscovered joy in life and can smile again. From now on I will not be embarrassed by the looks of criticisms from the community “, says Aisha with a satisfied smile.

At the end of the consultation, Aisha went back home with a new supply of RUTF for her twins and a reminder of good practices to ensure good nutrition for her children. “This is the third time I have faced the problem of malnutrition in my family, But I am determined this will be the last”, she concluded.

By Dismas Junior Biraronderwa, Communication Specialist, Media & External Relations

Poverty, chronic underdevelopment, food insecurity, educational levels of mothers, poor nutritional practices and social norms continue to drive high levels of malnutrition in Sudan. Thanks to the EU and the Governments of Germany, Japan, Sweden, and the United States that have all supported UNICEF’s humanitarian response in Sudan in 2017, as well as the contributing donors to the UN-Darfur Fund, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF), UNICEF continues to reach thousands of children in need in the most deprived communities.