Amy Diallo is from the small village of Pout, which lies about 30 miles east of Dakar, Senegal’s ocean-side capital. The commercial farms in this region produce watermelon, coconut, grapefruit and mango – a colorful bounty that is out of reach for the average family in Senegal, where more than half the population lives in poverty. Instead, families commit scarce resources to staples like rice that fill empty bellies but lack essential micronutrients that protect the immune system and help children grow.
Amy’s 18-month-old son was identified by Helen Keller International (HKI) as malnourished. The single biggest contributor to child mortality, acute malnutrition stunts both physical and mental health and causes blindness. Soon after Amy learned that her son was at risk for these devastating effects, HKI’s Homestead Food Production program helped her create a home-based garden to help improve her son’s health and diversify the diet of her whole family. In addition, a relais (or health worker) leads women like Amy through nutrition lessons, cooking demonstrations and discussions about important health topics over the course of approximately 20 days. The women are taught how to grow nutrient-packed plants like moringa, a native “superfood” that is an easily cultivated source of essential micronutrients, like vitamin A. The relais also teach women how to prepare a nourishing meal from local ingredients and from those in their gardens. A nurse visits the group weekly to monitor the children, ensuring that they continue to gain weight.
Thanks to Amy’s commitment to her son’s health and the generous support of our donors, Amy’s son is now a lively, growing boy, whose bright personality brings joy to his family. HKI is proud to do our part to ensure all the families in the village of Pout, including Amy’s, have the chance to lead happy, productive lives.