Intervening for Child Refugees in Uganda

Global Ministries partner, Medical Teams International, diagnosed baby Brenda with severe malnutrition and malaria and intervened to provide medicine and nutritional supplements.

By Tyler Graf and Bella DiFilippo*

Eight-month-old Brenda grasped at her mother Sabrina’s finger. It was covered with a tasty nutritious supplement called PlumpyNut. After weeks of worry, Sabrina smiled as her youngest child devoured the food. At just 20 years old, Sabrina already has three children, and they mean everything to her.

Sabrina holds her daughter, Brenda, while feeding her the supplement, PlumpyNut, provided by Medical Teams International. PHOTO: SEAN SHERIDAN

Along with Sabrina and her family, hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese live in Rhino Camp, a refugee settlement in northern Uganda. Sabrina’s family is new to Rhino Camp. They arrived two months ago from South Sudan, where war and hunger drove them away. Sabrina’s husband was ambushed and killed when he traveled from Juba to a small town called Magwa.

At Rhino Camp, Brenda developed a cough and a fever. Sabrina brought her to the clinic. There, doctors from Global Ministries’ partner, Medical Teams International (MTI) determined Brenda was severely malnourished. They also tested Brenda and discovered she had malaria as well. This is a serious and potentially deadly combination – one that is on the rise in Rhino Camp where malaria is rife. The United Methodist Church, Global Ministries awarded a grant to MTI to support testing and treatment of refugees in Rhino Camp to combat this preventable and deadly disease.

Malnutrition coupled with skyrocketing malaria rates have filled Rhino Camp’s clinic with anxious mothers and their sick children. At the nearby testing station, a clinic worker feverishly scrambled to keep up with demand, testing babies’ blood and, quite often, seeing positive results for malaria.

MTI supplied baby Brenda with anti-malarial drugs that quickly improved her condition.

“It is very hard for me,” Sabrina said, “because I lost my husband, and I have three children.” It is easy to lose hope. But in her children, Sabrina sees promise for the future. She is determined to stay strong for them—and to keep her children strong in the process.

Led by Global Ministries’ Global Health unit, the Abundant Health initiative of The United Methodist Church aims to reach 1 million children with lifesaving interventions by 2020. Global Ministries’ partnership with MTI contributes to this number, as children like Brenda are reached through medical treatment. To support Abundant Health programs, give to Advance #3021770.

*Written by Tyler Graf of Medical Teams International, and Bella DiFilippo, communication specialist for Global Ministries