13 February 2011 – Take a Rest


Take a Rest.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve focused the majority of my time on our distribution of MANA in Rwaza. If you have been following the video updates (available here), then you already know that we’re seeing great results with the children in the program. While much of the focus is on the anthropometrics (weight and MUAC (middle upper arm circumference)) of the children, there is an element of the project that just can’t be quantified: The happiness of the mother.

Although our product is called MANA, I’ve started asking the mothers how they refer to the product. (For example, a friend of ours from Nigeria told us there is a certain traditional food that the men refer to as “medicine” because when they eat it they feel strong and satisfied.) The responses have been very enlightening. A few of my (translated) favorites are:

  • Back to life
  • Nutritious food that works
  • Care for the children

I think my favorite is an expression that means, “Mother, take a rest.” The meaning of this, as explained to me, is that when a mother starts giving MANA to her child suffering from severe acute malnutrition, she is able to exhale, to relax, to take a rest because her child is now on the road to recovery.

If you watched the video about Constance (mother of twins), you may remember her comment that since the twins started on MANA, they have been sleeping through the night, she is getting more rest, and she is producing enough milk during the day for breast feeding. And this makes her very happy.

Most of the mothers are noticeably happy when they come to the clinic for the weekly checkup. I’m not sure about your experiences, but “happy” and “mother” are not typically in the same sentence when referring to a trip to the doctor! This past week, we showed before and after (3 weeks) pictures of each child to the entire group of mothers. Laughter, cheers, and even a few gasps of incredulity went up as the changes were observed. Slim faces are now chubby cheeks. Sullen eyes now sparkle. Children too weak to stand now dance. Mothers, once wearied by the stress of a sick child, can now take a rest … and smile.

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