In Koch County, South Sudan, Mariah cradles her one-year-old daughter Nyruei. For too long they’ve struggled to fill their stomachs. Each day they face the threat of an attack by armed rebel groups.

Mariah and Nyruei are living in the heart of a civil war in South Sudan. After four years of bitter violence, just under two million citizens are displaced within the country, fleeing fighting and searching for safety. Mass displacement, crop failure, the loss of livestock, and looting have reduced parts of South Sudan to a wasteland and left people like Mariah and Nyruei facing famine.

Without proper nutrition, Nyruei was suffering. Mariah was also desperate for food, but her discomfort was nothing compared to the concern she felt for her daughter.

Nyruei was admitted to a feeding centre in Koch, part of a nutrition program supported by PWS&D and implemented by Tearfund Canada—a member of Canadian Foodgrains Bank. The seven-month project screened and provided malnutrition treatment for children under the age of five, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers.

After conducting an exam, volunteers told Mariah that Nyruei was experiencing severe malnutrition, which had been exacerbated by frequent diarrhea—the result of unclean drinking water.

To Mariah’s relief, weekly rations of special therapeutic food brought new strength for little Nyruei. Meanwhile, Mariah participated in a support group for mothers where she learned about ensuring good health and proper nutrition for her daughter.

A Healthier Future for Nyruei

Mariah feels relief to see that he daughter is no longer suffering from malnutrition. Photo: Tearfund Canada

Five weeks later, Nyruei’s arm circumference was measured to determine if she had gained weight. The results indicated that Nyruei’s weight was in the normal range and she was no longer severely malnourished. Other mothers at the centre cheered and relief washed over Mariah.

Their future is still uncertain, but Mariah can’t stop smiling—her daughter is alive. “If it were not for this program, we couldn’t stay here,” she shares. “My child might have died.”

Mariah reports that she will continue practicing what she learned in the support group to keep her daughter healthy. All she can do now is hope that Nyruei will grow up strong and thrive in a peaceful South Sudan.

Ongoing Crisis in South Sudan

We can’t know when the war will end or how many more families will be forced to flee, trapped in cycles of hunger, fear and uncertainty. We do know that we can continue to respond together to help reduce malnutrition, ease suffering and rescue lives. Please support PWS&D’s ongoing response in South Sudan.

*This project was implemented with support from Canadian Foodgrains Bank. PWS&D is a member of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working together to end global hunger. This project was undertaken with matching support from the Government of Canada.