For the last four months, Marble's mode of transport was a wheelbarrow pushed by her elderly mother. It took two hours each way from their village to the nearest clinic but Marble’s illness gave them few alternatives. Now she is walking again. Under the shade of a lemon tree in the clinic's courtyard, whilst waiting their turn to collect her monthly food rations from WFP, the two women recount their trials and eventual triumph as Marble’s health improved.
Like old friends recounting an ordeal, the two women compete to relate their story.
"Before I started getting food support, I suffered a great deal and would cry a lot,” says Marble. “But once I got special food, life took a turn for the better.”
Marble married early but, shortly before giving birth to her second child, her marriage fell apart after her husband took another wife. She left taking her two children with her.
“I haven’t seen him in years,” says Marble who returned to live and farm with her parents in her home village.
As she was suffering ill health, her family sent her to the local clinic where she tested HIV positive. Grossly underweight, she was referred to the Health and Nutrition Promotion programme and now receives a monthly ration of 10 kg of Super Cereal which can be made into a fortified porridge. She is now stronger and able to work on the family farm again.
Essential food items
The Health and Nutrition programme started in 2007 and is run collaboratively by WFP, the Government and local aid agencies. It currently supports close to 180,000 people countywide with essential food items. During registration, adults’ weight and height are measured to determine body mass while children have their upper arm circumference measured to see if they are malnourished.
Malnourished people on anti-retroviral (ARV) or TB treatment, pregnant and nursing women and children under 5 years are provided with Super Cereal at clinics where services include nutrition assessment, education and counseling.
Clients whose households are shown to be food-insecure are provided with rations comprising maize meal, beans and vegetable oil for the duration of their treatment.
“Food assistance has proved effective in the treatment of clients,” says WFP Acting Country Director Abdurrahim Siddiqui. ”WFP is committed to promoting nutritious diets which help save the lives of people especially women and children.”
For Marble, she is well on her way to start the new life she has always dreamt of on her family farm where she grows tobacco and cotton, and looks after her two children.