The day Prosper rushed his three-year-old son, Pierre, to the nearest health center, he wondered if he would survive. Pierre weighed just under 20 pounds, and he had severe diarrhea. During the seven-mile walk from their village to the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), Prosper prayed. “I didn’t know if I was going to get to the hospital with Pierre alive. Even if I made it, I didn’t know if he would make it. I wondered if God’s plan was to take him back.”
With no job in a country ripped apart by conflict, Prosper provided for his family by collecting corn from the dwindling supplies at a nearby farm. But as Pierre’s weight steadily dropped and he grew sicker, refusing to eat, Prosper looked to traditional medicine to help his son, thinking he couldn’t afford hospital care. Though Pierre was near death, doctors and therapeutic food provided by UNICEF brought him back to life.
Latter-day Saint Charities and UNICEF USA have been in partnership since 2013, supporting programs to reach the world’s most vulnerable children and families. In 2019 UNICEF and its partners treated over 18,000 children in the CAR suffering from severe acute malnutrition with Plumpy’Nut, a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF). UNICEF uses the tasty nutrient-packed paste to help the millions of children threatened by acute malnutrition worldwide. It doesn’t require refrigeration and stays fresh for up to two years. Best of all, no mixing with potentially contaminated water is required. Each packet comes ready to use. All parents have to do is open the packet and ease it into their child’s mouth. “It takes about three weeks, but literally that one packet can mean the difference between life and death,” notes Caryl M. Stern, former UNICEF USA president and CEO. One carton of RUTF contains 150 packets, enough for one six- to eight-week course of treatment to restore a child’s health.
UNICEF requested $59 million to support its programs in the Central African Republic in 2019 and has received about $32.3 million toward its goal. Ms. Stern expressed her gratitude for Latter-day Saint Charities and its support: “It is truly heartening to know that you are our partner in this endeavor. I look forward to one day celebrating with you when no child dies for lack of food.”
UNICEF will treat 4.2 million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. “Malnutrition is a silent threat to millions of children. The damage it does can be irreversible, robbing children of their mental and physical potential.” - Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programs