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One Child One World: Lasting Help for Ghana’s Orphans

  • May 23, 2013

In Ghana, a marked increase in the number of orphans has led to high demand for supportive care housing and along with it, severe resource constraints. When our Africa team found that the children in many of Ghana’s homes for orphans were underweight, we delivered calorie and nutrition-packed supplements to help immediately.But we also wanted to put a lasting solution in place: Poor nutrition during childhood, we knew, could result in a lifetime of ill health.To prevent malnutrition among Ghana’s orphaned children, AmeriCares launched One Child One World, a five-year pilot program helping vulnerable children aged 0-18 months living in 30 residential homes. Ghanaian organizations Hope for All Foundation and Youth and Social Enterprise Fund joined the effort.Our team found that compared with children living with families, twice as many children in the homes were underweight—an alarming statistic when you consider the serious health consequences that arise as a result of malnutrition, including increased susceptibility to diseases, and delays in physical and cognitive growth. The team also discovered that caregivers in the homes needed training on issues such as hygiene, nutrition and addressing the emotional needs of orphaned children.  At the same time, we continued sending deliveries of nutrition-packed cereals.The AmeriCares team and partners worked with local experts to create lessons for caregivers to improve their knowledge of children’s health and nutrition. Some instructions were simple, such as making soap and water more available to children to prevent the spread of disease. Others were more complex, such as finding sustainable local sources of low-cost, nutritious food. Working together, the teams trained representatives from the 30 participating homes.Now, real lasting change is taking hold. Not only are children in the homes steadily gaining weight, but more than 100 caregivers know what needs to be done — and are sharing that knowledge with others. The lessons can be used in orphan homes across Ghana.What’s growing here — knowledge and healthy children — will benefit generations to come.

The Facts: 

  • Sub-Saharan Africa is home to an estimated 53 million orphans – 12% of all children in the region.
  • Hunger and malnutrition are still the number one risks to health worldwide – greater than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. 
  • Malnourished children and adults have a reduced ability to resist infection, making them less likely to survive common diseases such as malaria, measles, pneumonia and diarrhea.
  • Nearly one person in 7 faces chronic hunger, and one in three children is underweight.
  • Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year.

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