July 14 2017

Surviving Acute Malnutrition: Maimouna’s Story

After becoming acutely malnourished as a baby, Maimouna overcame it to become a happy, healthy 5-year-old girl.  

KAOLACK, Senegal—Maimouna today is a happy and healthy 5-year-old girl. But a few years ago, Maimouna almost died from malnutrition.

In 2012, her mother, Aissata, was struggling alone to care for her five children and her chronically ill husband, who has since passed away. They were living together in a shack—more like a box—that was given to them by a neighbor. She didn’t have enough money to feed her children or get them access to medical care.

Aissata took Maimouna—then just a baby—to the SOS Medical Center in Kaolack, Senegal, which offers free medical care to vulnerable families. There, Maimouna was diagnosed with acute malnutrition and hospitalized in the intensive care unit. She was fed through a feeding tube until her condition stabilized and she started to gain weight.

Maimouna in July 2012 on the first day she was admitted to the SOS Medical Center for treatment of acute malnutrition.

Maimouna and her mother a year after first being admitted to the SOS Medical Center in 2012 for acute malnutrition. 

About 1 in 5 children in Senegal who are under the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition. The SOS Medical Center in Kaolack, which was opened in 1984, specializes in issues related to infant and maternal health such as malnutrition.

After baby Maimouna regained her strength at the medical center, the next goal of the SOS Children’s Villages staff was to make sure her mother, Aissata, was empowered to raise Maimouna and her four older siblings in a loving, stable family. There are 75 vulnerable families in Kaolack like Aissata’s who participate in the SOS Family-Strengthening Program run by the local SOS Village.

Today, Aissata earns enough money to support her family by selling charcoal, and she makes sure to take Maimouna to her doctor’s appointments where her weight continues to be monitored. Through the SOS Family-Strengthening Program, her family receives food, medical care, and her children are able to pursue a quality education.

*Name changed to protect the privacy of the child.