Severe Acute Malnutrition: More Than Being Hungry Written by Saving Moses Communication’s Coordinator, McKenzie Thompson We see the effects of this disease on babies and toddlers every single day at our malnutrition feeding clinics in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We see their hair get lighter and become brittle, ... Read More»
Severe Acute Malnutrition: More Than Being Hungry
Written by Saving Moses Communication’s Coordinator, McKenzie Thompson
We see the effects of this disease on babies and toddlers every single day at our malnutrition feeding clinics in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We see their hair get lighter and become brittle, their skin begin to peel, and oedema take over their bodies, causing their hands, feet, faces, and stomachs to swell. We see the toll it takes on them, their mothers, their fathers, or their caregivers. We see how it slowly strips not only their lives away, but their hope and joy as well. While it is a hard topic to talk about, we see that there is a significant need for help in these parts of the world and believe that talking about it is the first step to the cure. Sadly, this is all too real for these little ones. This is the harsh reality that they face every day.
Severe acute malnutrition is the most extreme and visible form of malnutrition in children. It can be defined as a very low weight for height (below -3z scores of the median WHO growth standards), by visible severe wasting, or by the presence of nutritional oedema, according to the World Health Organization.
There are many misconceptions when it comes to severe acute malnutrition. It is more than just hunger.
It is the lack of nutrients needed to literally keep your body growing healthy, and it comes with terrible symptoms like I mentioned above. It’s not knowing when your next meal will be or if there will be one at all. Especially for babies and toddlers, getting the right amount of nutrients is vital for them to grow during the early stages of their lives. It is a life or death situation for them.
This is what drives Saving Moses. In our clinics, we know that we can save almost every baby from the tragic results of malnutrition and this motivates us more than anything!
Did you know that malnutrition is a 100% preventable disease? Yes, you read that right. It is 100% preventable. Meaning, there is no reason any baby or toddler should ever have to endure it, yet it is the cause of 50% of childhood deaths in lower to middle income countries…
How could a disease that is so easily preventable, [be a disease that so easily] takes the lives of precious babies and toddlers?
The answer is simple: lack of resources. In countries like where we work, there are several factors that contribute to the high mortality rate caused by this disease.
In some of the babies we see at our clinics, their malnutrition is due to a lack of education or cultural beliefs. Some mothers do not understand the basic necessity of breast feeding their babies, especially in the early stages of their lives. Other mothers believe their baby’s disease is a curse that has been placed on them. Often, by the time they realize their baby should be taken to a clinic, he/she dies before they can finish treatment because it is too late. It breaks my heart when I think about it.
For many reasons, we are increasing our community outreach efforts. The more information we can spread about malnutrition, what causes it, and how we can help, the more mothers and fathers will trust us and bring their babies to our clinics while we still have a chance to save them.
So, how do we help once they arrive? Our malnutrition feeding clinics provide babies with therapeutic milk. This isn’t the standard formula available at the grocery store. Therapeutic milk is packed with nutrients that quickly restore baby’s bodies back to healthy. We also can send home a special type of formula for them to drink after they have completed treatment at our clinic, that helps them continue to grow. One of our favorite success stories from our malnutrition clinics is about our little friend named Belito. You can learn more about his story here.
The work we do at Saving Moses is important. It is essential. It is saving lives.
Will you join us on this mission to save the world’s most vulnerable population?
Written by: McKenzie Thompson – Saving Moses Communications & Logistics Coordinator
At Saving Moses, we have recently launched our end of year campaign, Born in Refuge, which focuses on our BirthAid program. We are helping pregnant women and babies in Iraq and Syria by providing midwives, obstetricians and pediatricians during one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history. It’s not uncommon news that Syrians are fleeing their war-torn country for the past several years since civil war began in 2011. The humanitarian crisis has been going on for 8 years now, and it’s not over yet.
After the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria’s northern border in October this year, Turkey’s military invaded the area days later, causing hundreds of thousands of Syrians to flee their country or die trying. We aren’t here to choose sides on the political and militant decisions made regarding this issue, but instead, we are here to help those who are most vulnerable – babies and toddlers. According to the UN, only a couple of weeks after the invasion, nearly 180,000 people fled south from the border area between Turkey and Syria, while 10,000 fled to Iraq. 80,000 of those being children. That number has risen exponentially from this recent conflict alone. It isn’t counting the past 8 years that Syrians have been at war, fleeing their homes in search of safety, and hundreds of thousands of them innocently dying. Before this most recent conflict, there were already millions of Syrians in need.
As of December 1, 2019, the total number of registered Syrian refugees fleeing to neighboring countries is 5,664,202, according to Operation Portal – Refugee Situations. This number doesn’t include all the people displaced and still seeking refuge. That is over 5-million men and women forced to make the hardest decisions for their families and children of all ages forced to grow up way too soon. They are forced to leave their lives behind and seek refuge in unfamiliar places. Overall, more than 11 million Syrians are displaced, according to research by Mercy Corps.
My heart breaks when I think about the families who are just doing their best to survive. But when I think about the babies amid all this chaos, it just angers me. UNICEF reports that 2018 was the single deadliest year for children in Syria since the start of the war. That statistic rocks me to my core.
Babies are at the mercy of their environment. Women are giving birth to babies in the center of war zones. Babies are being born without any access to health care. Women are forced to travel several miles by foot just to get help with their pregnancy or sick babies.
By launching our end of year campaign: Born in Refuge, we will be funding midwives, obstetricians, and pediatricians for babies and pregnant mothers in Syria and Iraq. While millions of Syrians are fleeing their homes and traveling to neighboring countries like Iraq, it can be difficult to find medical help, especially in the middle of a war zone, where help is most needed. By providing these services, we are hoping to continue saving babies and providing the care needed to protect the world’s most vulnerable.
Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is quickly approaching. This is a season of giving and love is the greatest gift you can give to someone. It’s a time to be a part of something bigger than yourself! This time of year tends to get busy as we are planning holiday dinners, trying to buy the best gifts, flying/driving hundreds of miles to spend this holiday with friends and family, but I urge you to slow down for a second and think about those who don’t have these same opportunities. We are the help these babies need and deserve, and you can be the love these little ones experience this giving season. Join Saving Moses through Born in Refuge, donate today, and bring joy to the lives of thousands of babies in need who are growing up in a war zone.
Written by: McKenzie Thompson – Saving Moses Communications & Logistics Coordinator At Saving Moses, we have recently launched our end of year campaign, Born in Refuge, which focuses on our BirthAid program. We are helping pregnant women and babies in Iraq and Syria by providing midwives, obstetricians and pediatricians ... Read More»
After visiting our website or scrolling through our social media, you probably have a solid idea of who Saving Moses is, but many people send in questions as to what exactly we do. Those questions may include: Why do we only care for babies ages zero to five? What happens to the babies after they turn six? Do we help the mothers as well? All of these are great questions, so we want to address them here over the next few months. Starting with “Why do we care for babies only ages zero to five?”
From the Beginning
Our founder’s name is Sarah Bowling. She is an international speaker and author, the co-host of Today with Marilyn and Sarah, and Co-Lead Pastor of Encounter Church. After meeting orphaned babies who had been abandoned and could not find an orphanage home in 2009, Sarah learned that many child-focused organizations do not offer aid to the zero to five population because of their specialized needs. As a result, she created an organization that would exist specifically to address the needs of the world’s most vulnerable population – babies.
Saving Moses is a global humanitarian organization saving babies (5 & under) every day by meeting the most urgent and intense survival needs where help is least available.
Our name, Saving Moses, derives from the story of Moses who was abandoned in the Nile river when he was an infant, then rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter. Without his rescue, Moses never would have grown up to become the leader he was. We believe these babies deserve the chance to grow up healthy and become someone great.
The Most Vulnerable, The Most Urgent
While many wonderful organizations fight for children and adults in the developing world, often the zero to five age range is ignored due to a lack of knowledge and resources. Babies require so much more time, attention, food, diapers, etc. that many organizations actually cannot afford to care for them in addition to older children. When you really think about all of the people in the world in desperate need of help, it’s easy to picture the children and adults working tirelessly to find/provide food, clean water, education, healthcare, or jobs, but we try to picture the babies who literally cannot protect or provide for themselves and whose lives rely on the actions of others.
As a result, they are often the victims in wars, natural disasters and cycles of poverty or abuse and this is something we see a lot in our line of work. So, we fill the gap.
We do this by implementing our three programs, NightCare, Malnutrition Feeding, and Birth and Infant Aid, to the areas where help is most urgent but least available. These areas include Central Asia, South and South East Asia, The Middle East, and Africa.
There are many organizations who exist to end the sex industry, but no one has addressed how to care for the thousands of babies and toddlers who are born as a result of it. Therefore, most of the babies who attend our NightCare clinics are the babies of sex workers. Some of these mothers choose this work, and some do not. However, we direct our focus to those babies born as a result of their work because babies out of NightCare are often tied to the beds their moms work in, locked in a dark closet alone, left with an abusive family member, or forced to work in a brothel, selling additional products to clients.
At NightCare, we partner with the mothers and caregivers of the babies to change this reality and help provide a safe place for the babies to stay at night while their mothers work. The nannies working at the centers provide the little ones with a bath, clean clothes, and a warm, nutritious meal, every single night.
Malnutrition contributes to 50% of childhood deaths in the developing world and it is a disease that is 100% preventable. It is an urgent need in an area where help doesn’t exist. That’s why you will see us continue to say “…by meeting the most urgent needs where help is least available.” Through this program, we administer life-saving therapeutic milk to babies suffering from severe acute malnutrition. These babies cannot work to provide food for themselves, they must rely on others. This is another reason why it is important for us to focus on this age group. However, there is an exception within this program, as we will also administer therapeutic milk to the mothers attending with their babies. We do this because after traveling several miles to bring their babies to our clinic and staying for their baby’s treatment, the mothers themselves were getting hungry because they had no food. This resulted in them pulling their babies from the program, so we began feeding them as well so their babies could continue getting the treatment they needed.
Lastly, with our BirthAid program, we address the highest infant mortality rates in the world by teaching life-saving birth skills including training local community leaders to help their own community understand pregnancy, birth, and neonatal care. We also fund pregnancy and neonatal vaccinations, to protect vital populations from preventable diseases, as well as provide midwives for pregnant mothers. Many babies in the developing world die after birth because of a lack of knowledge and resources when it comes to neonatal care.
All our programs specifically target those who are marginalized by poverty, illness, and exploitation. There is a significant need for babies ages zero to five and we address that throughout our programs. We care about the mothers, we care about what happens to the babies after they’re past the age of five, but there are organizations already existing to tackle those issues.
Saving Moses addresses the need where the help is most urgent, but least available.
After visiting our website or scrolling through our social media, you probably have a solid idea of who Saving Moses is, but many people send in questions as to what exactly we do. Those questions may include: Why do we only care for babies ages zero to five? What happens to the babies after they... Read More»
By Lindy Hickman Copeland
People often ask me how I came to be a photographer. I didn’t go to school knowing that was my passion. I didn’t dream of it as a little kid. I simply took a camera on a year-long trip around the world and found that that little Sony was an extension of me—like finding a limb you didn’t know was lost. Since discovering this passion, there have been many images that stood out—those special instances where technology and reality collide to preserve a magical moment. And, of all the stories my camera has told, the one that truly unravels me is a photo I simply couldn’t take.
I traveled with Saving Moses to Angola in May. The mission was clear: Sarah (Saving Moses’ Founder) and I would visit malnutrition clinics and document the sweet babies receiving therapeutic milk, along with their mothers. What wasn’t clear, was how deeply this experience would challenge, move and shape me.
We spent the morning at our first clinic—holding, feeding and capturing images of those tiny little babies. I remember thinking how remarkable it was that these frail bodies held such mighty warriors. Their beautiful mothers—exhausted and overcome by worry—managed to greet us with such warmth and kindness. Some of them smiled and hugged us, even allowing us to coo at their babies and soak in the rare moments of giggles.
Sarah approached, worry etched on her face and weighing on her shoulders, “There’s a new baby who just arrived. It’s not good.”
I nodded, completely unaware of the weight of those words in this place. “Not good,” could mean so many things. As a person bent towards hoping against hope, I said a silent prayer for the best—sure that everything would work out in the end.
It didn’t, as sometimes it doesn’t—when there are no words to explain and no rhyme or reason to take refuge.
I remember seeing his hands first—a tiny fist wrapped in the loving palm of his mother. She laid across the bed with him, burying her face in the sheets and allowing her tears to soak into the white fabric. “Not good,” as it turns out, was altogether very bad.
I raised my camera to my eye, thinking that the scene would be different through that tiny window—that hope would live somewhere within that frame. My finger pressed gently against the shutter button to focus, but there was no click—no freezing time. This moment—where a fragile life hung in the balance and fought the final battles of a war it would lose—I simply couldn’t capture that. I’ve always thought that my job is to immortalize moments people don’t want to forget. So, what about the moments we all dread? What about the moments we live to forget?
After several seconds, I dropped the camera to my side. The only picture of this scene is one that resides in my mind. Perhaps some moments shouldn’t live forever.
I left the clinic that day heavy with the weight of defeat. Not only was this precious boy fighting his final battle, but I had failed to tell his story. I had failed him.
Before returning to the hotel, we made a quick stop to visit Belito, a young boy who received therapeutic milk from Saving Moses years earlier. “He’s grumpy,” Sarah told me. “He was even a grumpy baby. You’ll see.”
As we pulled up, a small, wiry boy appeared from inside the hut. He sat with Sarah, maintaining a stoic persona and, I suspect, concealing a wry smile, as we handed him a soccer ball and asked him how he’d been since their last visit. He was grumpy, but in a way that secretly sweet, old men are.
It was there, on that dusty, dusk evening, that we sat in the afterglow of victory. Belito is alive. He is well. He is free to grow into the best (albeit grumpy) version of himself and it all began with some therapeutic milk 7 years ago. The realization struck me in a way that only hope can. And, my heart lifted just a little, knowing that for every story of a mother returning home with an empty blanket, there are dozens and hundreds more like Belito.
I sometimes imagine going back to Angola–years from now–lifting my camera to my eye and seeing a scene filled with the babies we met there. They aren’t sick. They aren’t fighting for life. They are just living. Like Belito, they are kicking up dust on a glowing Summer’s day, laughing with friends as they play soccer. I think about my finger hovering over that shutter button, focusing in and filling the frame with the precious moments of their lives that we’d rather not forget. Click.
Lindy Hickman Copeland is a photographer, videographer, and world traveler. You can learn more about her at www.lindyhickmanphoto.com
By Lindy Hickman Copeland People often ask me how I came to be a photographer. I didn’t go to school knowing that was my passion. I didn’t dream of it as a little kid. I simply took a camera on a year-long trip around the world and found that that little Sony was an extension... Read More»
Why is the infant mortality rate so high in Afghanistan?
Note to the reader: Names and images have been changed to protect identities.
According to the CIA website, Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world. In fact, 110.6 out of every 1,000 babies born in Afghanistan do not live to see their first birthday. Compare that to the US, where the number drops to 5.8 out of every 1,000. Get out of the big cities into rural Afghanistan, and the infant mortality rate goes up. Where we currently have clinics, 40% of babies born will not live to see their first birthday.
These statistics are staggering. Why is there such disparity?
There are several factors at play, so we don’t want to oversimplify this. But through our years working with the beautiful people of Afghanistan, it has become clear that most infant deaths in the country with the highest infant mortality rate are preventable. Here are three of the top reasons why the infant mortality rate is so high there, and what you can do to help:
Naseema is 24 years old. She has given birth seven times, but only has four living children. She has experienced the greatest loss of a child three times because of diseases such as diarrhea and dehydration, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections—all diseases that are treatable except that Naseema has not had access to a health clinic or medication for herself or her children for years.
When the Saving Moses clinic was founded in Naseema’s province, it was only a half-hour walk from her home. She brings all four of her babies to be vaccinated and cared for when sick. Because of access to healthcare, Naseema’s four babies have a chance to survive.
Much of the inhabited land of Afghanistan is rural and recovering from years of conflict. Communities are spread out with most people traveling by foot from place to place. As a result, people who live far from hospitals and clinics don’t get access to any form of healthcare, especially pregnant women and babies who cannot make the trip.
Hamad is a father, but he doesn’t know the love of a child. Hamad has had to bury all three of his babies because they were born not breathing. By the time Hamad reached a Saving Moses clinic, he was having a nervous breakdown from the grief. In America, if a baby is not breathing when they are born, the doctor or nurse gives them a hard slap on the back to clear mucus out of their airways. Most of the time, this works and the baby lives. No one in Hamad’s family knew.
Partly due to socioeconomic issues and partly due to culture, there is a significant lack of health education in Afghanistan, especially among women. When a woman has complications in her pregnancy or if a baby is sick, families are simply left guessing.
Haleema is a baby girl in rural Afghanistan and she is sick—very sick. Her parents brought her to Saving Moses worried because her stomach has rashes, she can’t keep food down, and her fever is very high. After looking at her, doctors immediately figured out the problem: an infection. When Haleema was born, per tradition, her father cut the umbilical cord with an old boot and packed it with mud from the wall of the family home. Once doctors were able to clean the cord out, Haleema started to show signs of recovery.
Communities in Afghanistan have rooted cultural traditions that trace back hundreds of years. Many women still see themselves as the sole caretaker in the home and will stay awake late into the night, cleaning, cooking, and caring for her household, even when pregnant. While culture is often beautiful and distinguishing, sometimes the old-world ideology contributes to poor health practices. This is where modern medicine and training community leaders helps save lives.
What You Can Do
Our hearts are broken by the maternal and infant mortality rates in Afghanistan. This is why we work in three rural clinics throughout Afghanistan to train midwives, fund postnatal vaccinations, and teach birth life-saving skills in communities. We would love to invite you to join in our journey to save babies every day by meeting the most urgent and intense survival needs where help is least available.
You can become a hero or donate to Afghanistan here.
Why is the infant mortality rate so high in Afghanistan? Note to the reader: Names and images have been changed to protect identities. According to the CIA website, Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world. In fact, 110.6 out of every 1,000 babies born in Afghanistan do not live to see their first... Read More»