A grandmother’s difficult decision

Luke and Anna Nyikonde with their grandson Samuel. Photo courtesy of Lishe Endelevu.

By Robin Stephenson

When her daughter died in 2020, Anna Nyikonde, a 45-year-old grandmother and a community health worker from Tanzania, had a tough choice to make: care for her 9-month-old grandson or send him to an orphanage.

Caring for baby Samuel would not be easy. Anna’s husband, Luke Mangura, was concerned that they didn’t have the resources or knowledge to raise a growing boy.

Bread for the World members have long-supported nutrition programs around the world that focus on the critical first 1,000 days of a child’s life. And it was one of these initiatives that gave Anna and Luke what they needed to help their grandson thrive.

Unlike Samuel, most Tanzanian children do not have access to the nourishment they need to grow, putting their futures at risk.

With nearly half the country living on less than $1.90 a day, Tanzania has one of the highest rates of undernutrition in the world. Over a third of children under age 5 are stunted— crippling both physical and cognitive development. Roughly half of all pregnant and breastfeeding women are anemic.

Even in the midst of this, parents are doing all they can to nurture and feed their children.

Using what she had learned when trained as a community health worker, Anna started giving Samuel cow’s milk and supplementary food based on five food groups – giving him three main meals and two snacks between meals every day.

At age 2, Samuel is now thriving. He’s one of the lucky ones – escaping the malnutrition that befalls many children in Tanzania.

“Samuel’s story is one we should not only celebrate but we should be working hard to make sure it is repeated for children all over the world,” said Jordan Teague, who directs policy analysis and coalition building at Bread for the World.

To that end, Bread for the World is urging Congress to pass the Global Malnutrition Treatment and Prevent Act this year—legislation that will help advance progress against malnutrition.

You can help by emailing your U.S. representative and telling them to cosponsor the bill.

Teague said that the nutrition bill that Bread for the World helped shape is a “game-changer” and creates the political will to end malnutrition.

“Access to safe and nutritious food is a human right,” she said. “No parent or grandparent should ever struggle with a choice like Mrs. Nyikonde.”

Robin Stephenson is senior manager for digital campaigns at Bread for the World.

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