UN World Food Programme

Quake Mothers Find Nutrition And Relief In Peanut Paste

Fara Bocage and her two young daughters who are eating a fortified peanut paste enriched with all the vitamins and nutrients their bodies need to grow. Photo: WFP/David Orr

Less than a month after her husband was killed in last year’s earthquake, Farah, 21, gave birth to their second daughter. Getting by since then has been hard, but Farah says she takes comfort in knowing that her daughters are getting the nutrition they need from a fortified peanut paste provided by WFP.

PORT-AU-PRINCE—When the earthquake hit, Farah Bocage, 21, was washing clothes in her yard near the sea in Port-au-Prince with her daughter, Nephtalie. They escaped, but the house collapsed on top of Farah’s husband.

“I went crazy”, she remembers. “I was just screaming and screaming. I didn’t know what to do”.

All she and her daughter had were the clothes on their backs. For a while, they slept on the street, alongside others who had become homeless overnight.

Nephtalie and she survived the first few weeks with help from friends and rice rations from WFP. In February, Farah gave birth to a second daughter, Beina.

Learning to survive

Farah’s husband was a stone-mason but she has no job. Life in their camp at Martissant is not easy. One thing that makes a big difference, however, is a regular supply of Supplementary Plumpy, a peanut-based paste that is full of nutrients and that children can eat straight from the sachet.

Farah lines up with other mothers for their monthly rations at the WFP supplementary feeding station in the camp.

“Without this, I don’t know what I’d do,” says Farah. “It really helps keep the kids healthy and gain weight. Nephtalie was thin before she started getting it but now she’s much better.”

After collecting their rations, it is only a short walk back to the tarp-covered shelter where they live. Inside is a bed and, on the ground, two metal cooking pots that are shared with other families.

Life in the aftermath

Farah says she misses her husband and her old life in the house where they used to live. But she says they will get by. There is little option, she says with a smile, she has to make a life for her two daughters.

And besides, she adds, she is not alone, a lot of people in Haiti are in the same position or worse.

WFP is reaching more than 540,000 children under five as well as pregnant and nursing mothers.