Children in Mahama Camp given a healthy start in life

Monday 16 November 2020


Ally, 3, is the first-born child of Pascal and Esperance. In 2015, Pascal and Esperance fled Burundi and arrived at Mahama Refu-gee Camp. A few months later, in April 2016, the couple were married. The following year, Pascal and Esperance welcomed their son, Ally, weighing 3.4 kg.After the recommendation of a Community Health Worker, Esperance took her 2-month old son for a check-up at the Save the Children health center.

“I used to breastfeed my child regularly, but he continued to be thin and always cried loudly. Neighbours told me he was suffering from igikoko (a sickness associated with newborn babies). I was giving him tradi-tional medicine. His diet was this traditional medicine, but the situation kept getting worse. That was when I decided to go to the health center,” Esperance, Mahama Camp 

During that visit, a doctor realized that Ally had lost a significant amount of weight in his first months. Initially, Esperance was unaware of the reason for her infant’s weight loss, however after an examination, Esperance was diagnosed with a breast malformation that made her unable to breastfeed Ally, weighing only 2 kg at the time, was admitted to Save the Children’s IYCF program to receive nutrition assistance in March 2017. Now Esperance describes Ally as a “playful, smart and active” 3-year old. Within the IYCF program, Ally is recognized as a success story. Although Ally no longer receives nutrition assistance, his 5- month old brother, Quedali, is currently enrolled in the IYCF program.

“I thank Save the Children for supporting me in raising these boys, Quedali and Ally. If possible, I ask that Save the Children arrange for me to have an advanced medical diagnosis of my breasts. I think it is the most sustainable solution,” says Esperance.

Since its inception in 2016, the IYCF program has reached 15,457 children ages 0 to 23 months and given Burundian refugee children a healthy start in life.

“Save the Children really helped us because when I came from Kirehe, Save the Children gave me infant formula in the period of two months. Every morning and evening I had to go to the health center kitchen with a flask to pick up cooked porridge. When he started grow-ing, Save the Children also introduced him to fresh foods like beans, sweet potatoes and carrots,” elaborated Esperance

Save the Children provides maternal, newborn and child healthcare services for Burundian refugees living in Mahama Refugee Camp. Among its interventions, Save the Children implements an Infant and Young Child

Background and poject information

Feeding (IYCF) program. The IYFC program provides vulnerable children including orphans, neglected babies, and children whose mothers are unable to breastfeed with infant formula, fresh food and wet nursing in some cases. In addition, Save the Children provides education, counselling, breastfeeding awareness and mobilization.