Angel Ann regularly attends the supplementary feeding program of Brgy. Tanza Dos, Navotas City.
It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Angel Ann is wheeled by her mother Josephine to the barangay hall of Tanza Dos in Navotas City. The two braved the sweltering heat for over half an hour to get to the feeding program.
"It's difficult for me because of the heat and it's very far. But that's how it is - as a mother you'd do anything for your child," said Josephine as she waits for the barangay volunteers to start giving out food rations to the kids who showed up to the feeding program that day.
Angel Ann has cerebral palsy, a condition which causes muscle stiffness and uncontrolled muscle movements. At 3 years old, she is strapped in a stroller and is yet unable to independently do the functions kids her age would normally be able to do, like eating on her own.
Angel Ann is among the 34 underweight and malnourished children beneficiaries of the NURTURE Project in Barangay Tanza. Through partnership with Save the Children Philippines, the barangay carries out daily supplemental feeding and regular check-ups, evaluations, and education campaigns to address malnutrition among children under five years old.
"I cannot support her needs, especially in providing her nutritious food," her mother admits. Josephine is a solo parent raising two more children, aged one and nine years. She used to work as a street sweeper but quit over a month ago when she got sick. Now she's just relying on help from neighbors - doing errands in exchange for a small amount of money. Sometimes, she says, they would give them leftover food.
“The moment I wake up in the morning I leave the house and look for breakfast for my three kids. If I am able to find ways, see a neighbor or a friend who gives me money or food, I get to feed them. In the afternoon, when Angel and I leave for the feeding program, my 9-year-old child who’s now in Grade 3 takes care of my 1-year-old. Whatever's left of Angel Ann's food from the feeding program I give to my two other kids," Josephine admits.
Today the barangay volunteers are serving nilaga - pork soup with bananas and cabbage. Angel Ann squeals and smiles in between spoonfuls of rice that Josephine feeds her. "She really likes the food. Yesterday they served adobo, and she loved it."
What would her two other children eat if she did not bring home food from the program?
We ask. "Minsan diskarte na lang (At times we just have to manage). Sometimes we just sleep through the night with our stomachs empty. Sometimes we eat bread. We’re lucky if we’re able to eat a single rice meal a day, or three square meals," Josephine hesitantly admits.
"That's why I'm thankful for Save the Children's feeding program, because Angel, and even my two other kids, are able to eat nutritious food.
"If you come to think of it, it's really very difficult. I just draw strength from my children. If it were others in my situation they would have probably given up."
It's half past 3 o'clock. After waiting for a few minutes for the heat of the afternoon sun to die down, Josephine and Angel Ann started their way back home. Today, they have no leftover food to bring back to the two other kids waiting at home.
Save the Children Philippines' Project NURTURE supports the nutrition program of the local government, including the supplementary feeding program.
Part of the Statistics
Inflation hits more than eight million food-poor families in the Philippines. Every night, an estimated 1.5 million Filipino children go to sleep hungry, not having eaten a single meal all day.
All over the country, there are around 800,000 malnourished children. Every day, at least 95 die of malnutrition-related diseases. Malnutrition silently kills, and among its victims are the most vulnerable who have no means of fighting it.
Addressing Malnutrition among the Urban Poor
Save the Children Philippines launched Project NURTURE (Nutrition among Urban Poor Through Unified Response) in Navotas City early this year. It aims to reduce the number of deaths of children under 5 years old due to preventable diseases related to malnutrition.
NURTURE supports the nutrition program of the local government, including the supplementary feeding program, by providing technical and logistical support, as well as additional funding, equipment and capacity building.
The project is currently being implemented in eight barangays among 373 children, including Angel Ann, who are 6-59 months old and are either moderately or severely acute malnourished; among mothers/caregivers of malnourished kids; and among pregnant mothers and lactating women who are nutritionally-at-risk.
Great strides have been taken to address malnutrition in Navotas City, although much remains to be done. In 2016, Save the Children Philippines launched the CMAM (Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition) Project in Navotas. CMAM is aimed at helping malnourished children “graduate” from their condition, gradually going from severely malnourished to moderate and to normal.
Before Navotas, CMAM was implemented in Mindanao in 2008 following the effects of the armed conflict between the military and Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and in the Visayas thereafter.
Soon, NURTURE will include the Conditional Cash Transfer for Nutritious Food and Technical - Vocational Skills component, to help family beneficiaries take control of and better provide for their children’s nutritional needs.
#LahatDapat Kasali to End Malnutrition
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