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Healthy Children & Families in Nepal

Item # 47194

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Nepal Youth Foundation's Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes restore severely malnourished children to good health while educating their mothers about nutrition and child care. When mother and child return to their village, the mother shares her new knowledge with her family and neighbors.

The Nepal Youth Foundation and its founder, Olga Murray, have found a simple, effective way to transform heartrendingly malnourished children into bouncy, active little people within the space of a month or two. And, their approach keeps the problem from recurring. Half of Nepali children under five are malnourished, and poor nourishment is one of the leading causes of death for young children. The main cause of the problem is ignorance, rather than poverty.

In 1998, the Nepal Youth Foundation opened the doors of the first Nutritional Rehabilitation Home (NRH) in Kathmandu to nurse severely malnourished Nepali children back to health. Child and mother live together at the NRH during the course of treatment, usually about five to six weeks. While they rehabilitate the children, they also educate their mothers in how to prepare nutritious meals using foods readily available in rural Nepal. The mothers are also instructed in how to pass on their knowledge to other mothers after they return to their villages.

After the mother and child are discharged, field workers follow up in the villages to check on the child's health and to ensure that the mother is not only practicing what she has learned but is also educating other women in the community about nutrition and other good child care practices.

Talk about instant gratification! Most of the children come to NYF unable to smile or play or react to anything, lacking any of the spark that defines a child. It is not long before they are more alert and active, and after a few weeks they are running about and playing. Their mothers also leave with renewed health as well as nutritional education.

In 2002, the NRH moved from its first home--the cramped fourth floor of a tall building that also housed a clinic--to a spacious house set on a nice piece of land that we have turned into a vegetable garden. The NRH is walking distance from Kanti Children's Hospital, which works closely with them in referring children and mothers and helping with their medical problems. NYF also expanded their NRH staff to keep pace with demand. Over 20 mother/child pairs at a time can now stay at the NRH, and they can serve about 220 pairs per year. Not only that, but NYF has established eight more NRHs in outlying areas so that children throughout the country will be rescued, and they are in the process of constructing three additional NRHs.

You can help. A donation of only $10 provides live-in care and supplemental feeding for a severely malnourished child as well as housing; $340 will restore the health or save the life of a child, empower and train the mother, and prevent the problem from happening again.

This program is unique in Nepal. It is, quite literally, saving the lives of severely malnourished Nepali children and preventing mental or physical retardation in many others. By involving the mothers in this process, the outcomes have built-in sustainability.

The NRH program has succeeded beyond expectations, serving over 5,000 mother-child pairs to date. Each year, more than 1,000 children's lives are transformed by this project.

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