When you think NUTRITION, what comes to mind?

Healthy foods that provide nourishment for your body and mind.

A nutrient is a substance or ingredient that promotes growth, provides energy and maintains life. Clean water, good fats, quality carbohydrates and protein, vitamins and minerals, are the key nutrients that make up a healthy, balanced diet, providing you with the building blocks you need to sustain and maintain vital bodily and mental functions.  

But, there is much more to consider when it comes to good health and nutrition. ‘Healthy food’ for one child, can cause another child to become severely ill.

At Give a Child a Family Africa, many of the children in our care are admitted after they have been discharged from hospital due to acute severe malnourishment. Some children also have chronic health conditions, e.g. diabetes, fructosemia, refractory epilepsy, multiple food allergies, and some have special food and feeding requirements due to disability, e.g. PEG feeding. (A flexible feeding tube is placed through the abdominal wall, into the stomach. Nutritious food and water are blended/liquified and given via the PEG, bypassing the mouth and esophagus.)

Apart from making sure all our children get nourishing meals, it is also very important to make sure children with health conditions get the correct kinds of nutritional foods.

Our multi-professional Health and Childcare team work together with doctors, dieticians and therapist to finalize special diets for individual children. The food is then prepared by our well-trained kitchen staff, who do not only prepare the appropriate food correctly for each child, but also make sure it is still appetizing and tasty.

A little girl with a very poor prognosis because of severe liver damage due to fructosemia (the liver’s inability to metabolize fructose) – since birth not being on the correct diet – has recovered to such an extent that she is now a candidate to have a liver transplant, because of a correct special diet!

A young boy with refractory epilepsy, having multiple seizures daily, regardless of being on combinations of anti-seizure medications, not being able to go to school, could (after a few months of being on a specialized diet) go to school, and his seizures reduced to a few mild seizures a month!

A baby boy with stunted growth, severe eczema and malnourished, suffered from severe multiple food allergies (wheat, gluten, soya, nuts, eggs and dairy). Once his diet was correctly adjusted, his overall condition improved dramatically. From a sick, weak little child he bloomed into a strong, healthy, happy little toddler.

From normal daily meals to birthday cakes and special occasions, regardless of what health condition the child has, and how complex the special diet may be, we find creative ways to still bring a smile to their face and a tickle to their taste buds! 

Written by Glenda Emmerson (CYCC Manager)

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