OMAR...A JOURNEY FROM MALNUTRITION TO HEALTH, LAUGHTER AND ACTIVITY
The nutrition teams in the Binaa Foundation for Development continue to detect and treat cases of malnutrition in the camps of Northern Syria
In mothers’ get-togethers, many stories are told about children. Mothers know all the minutest details about their little ones: when they sleep and how often they wake up at night, when they start crawling and how many teeth they got so far, what foods they like and what they totally refuse to eat… Yes, these may be simple details for some people, but they are the core of attention of every mother taking care of a baby.
Mothers take care of their children child under extreme circumstances in the camps in Northern Syria, where conditions are below life-sustaining levels, and where people are deprived of the most basic rights, such as clean water and nutritious food. Thus, deprivation and misery cause children’s bodies to become emaciated, which medically implies that children suffer from acute malnutrition. This disease, which infects a large proportion of children in Northern Syria, is a disease that can be easily treated, if detected early. However, if it is neglected, it will lead to certain death. Among these mothers is Ms. Hadia, an IDP from Karnaz residing in Harbnoush, whose 11-month-old baby was diagnosed with acute malnutrition.
Hadia felt the problem when she noticed that her child was losing weight. She was well aware that the main source of nutrition for him was breastfeeding, which was interrupted by the displacement and bombing conditions, only to find that she had to replace this with milk. Yet, this tiny body could tolerate that, and his health began to deteriorate. The mother described Omar’s condition saying:
“My son is sick, and he was only three months old when we arrived at this camp. We were displaced between a thousand camps… He was breastfed for only three months, as the milk dried up due to the bombing and displacement conditions. I used to give him milk, but he was growing weak”.
She tried to seek the help of doctors, but to no avail. She was hoping that he would begin to improve when he was six months old, but his condition continued to worsen, and his activity was constantly slowing down. The child was suffering from starvation, and the situation was compounded by the miserable conditions and the high temperature in the camps, as Hadia says: “They advised me to seek medical help, but things did not get better... I expected that he would get better, but when Amr was 6 months old, he kept growing weak and would go on crying all the time out of hunger and heat”.
Omar was lucky that the nutrition team formed by the Binaa Foundation for Development arrived to detect cases of malnutrition in the camp. When his case was assessed, he was diagnosed with severe malnutrition. The treatment phase was launched with using butter, fried eggs and milk. Hadia explains these steps, saying, "The organization came and examined him, and it turned out that he was malnourished. They gave me halva/butter, two sachets daily, but now I give him fried eggs and milk”.
With the treatment and nutrition, Omar’s body began to show signs of improvement and to exhibit activity typical of his age. He started laughing, calling and standing on his feet. Even his teeth began to emerge. These developments filled the mother’s heart with joy, and she thanked God saying:
“Thank God, I feel the development by the week. He can now stand after a time when he could not even move. He calls out loud asking for something to drink. He laughs and cries, even his teeth started to appear... Thanks to God”.
Despite the miseries experienced by the displaced Syrians, such initiatives remain to be a glimpse of hope to them for a better future. It is also a source of hope for us here in the Binaa Foundation for Development, that the initiatives we offer make a difference in the lives of people. They may be overwhelmed by circumstances now, but life is all about change.