In times of famine or drought, AFCA provides nutritional support in the form of fortified porridge to children in our programs. This porridge is either purchased locally (if available) or it is imported from USA. We try hard to purchase locally as often as possible, as we know it will help the local economy. Sometimes, it is impossible to do so, though, because food is too scarce.
Because we work with HIV+ children, we know that without proper nutrition, it is difficult for them to take their prescribed medicine for various reasons:
- Their stomach might hurt
- They might experience nausea throughout the day
- They might become constipated
- They might get diarrhea
- There may be absorption changes, as medicines are absorbed at different rates, depending on the type of medicine. If a medicine is supposed to be taken with food but isn't, it may be absorbed too rapidly into their system, or they may absorb more than the intended dose.
Because some of the medications the children are prescribed must be taken daily, it is imperative that they don’t stop taking it, even if food is scarce. Therefore, in times of drought or famine, a program called Nutrition by Prescription comes into play, making sure that affected children in our programs have the food they need during this time of emergency.
With their bellies full of the nutritious porridge, the kids can take their medicines as indicated by their doctors and they can continue to stay healthy. When the food situation in their area stabilizes and they can, once again, purchase or grow food, we stop the supply of emergency rations.
During times of unrest, AFCA has been called to aid our partners and we do our utmost to help them. We have donated blankets, cleaning supplies, sheets, beds, and other items when floods have destroyed medical housing and a partner hospital. We have donated blankets, baby supplies, toys, and other requested items when violence erupted in one of our countries and children lost their homes due to fire and forced relocation.
This is not a core part of AFCA’s work, but we are certainly going to help our partners to the best of our capacity when an emergency strikes.