Aamadu – 5 years old – “I want to be a boxer”
We, at Headstart Kids, work with various stakeholders to achieve our mission of eradicating childhood malnutrition. And, with the help of sponsors and generous people like you, we are getting closer and closer every day.
Micronutrient Supplements (MNP’s)
We currently provide High Five Power Powder™ to 40 000 children every day. High Five Power Powder is a micronutrient supplement for malnourished children which, when taken daily, provides these children with the nutrients they need to grow and develop a healthier brain and body.
Tracking and Measurement
Periodic measurements are carried on weight, height and MUAC (mid upper arm circumference) to assess the impact of our micronutrient program.
Every child on the program is dewormed twice annually by qualified personnel. Worm infection can cause various health problems, including anemia, abdominal distention (swelling), severe abdominal pain, and diarrhea. They can also cause loss of appetite, malnourishment as well as impaired mental and physical development.
In the event that a child, after receiving regular Micronutrient supplements, has not after the second or third measurement shown satisfactory progress in terms of weight, height, and MUAC development – hemoglobin testing will be carried out. Haemogloban testing checks for check for low or high levels of red blood cells. Low levels mean there will a decreased capacity of the blood to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. This results in symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, dizziness and shortness of breath. Having a low number of red blood cells is called anemia – which is closely associated with malnutrition.
Annual eye and hearing tests
Coupled with a lack of brain development, low blood count and anaemia are also linked to poor eye health, therefore it is crucial to detect at a young age. With our access to so many children from low income communities, we have partnered with specialist eye and hearing partners to carry out annual tests on select 5 year olds.
How do we do this?
A little more on High Five™
The 1-gram package of High Five Power Powder™ is mixed once a day with any food that a child would normally eat. The product is designed to have no taste, flavor or texture so it is acceptable for children from any culture. High Five Power Powder™ can help reduce and prevent micronutrient deficiency, including iron deficiency anemia.
Scientific research has shown that eliminating iron deficiency anemia can improve important developmental behaviors in children – such as being more active, more talkative and more interested in learning and playing.
The Headstart Kids MNP is sourced locally, contains 15 essential vitamins and minerals, meets the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) daily recommended standards and is endorsed by Unicef.
Will Micronutrient Supplements ultimately benefit communities? How?
Yes, Micronutrient Supplements will benefit communities and nations by fighting malnutrition.
According to The Lancet, a global medical journal, proper nutrition is important to the development of both individuals and nations. It is estimated that a lack of adequate nourishment can reduce a nation’s economic advancement by at least 8 percent because of losses related to productivity, cognition and reduced schooling. By improving the health of children – helping them grow and realize their physical and mental potential.
Where do we operate?
What we do is not very glamorous, also experiencing how the less fortunate live can be extremely uncomfortable and painful. Seeing the results first hand is however incredibly fulfilling and rewarding.
Our current footprint includes 6 provinces in South Africa;
Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and Western Cape.
We really do need your help to not only continue our work, but to increase the number of children we reach and eliminate malnutrition.
Are we making a difference?
Most definitely YES. Headstart Kids is already making a powerful and positive impact on 40 000 preschool children DAILY, and we want, or rather HAVE to ramp this up to achieve our 2025 goal of 1 MILLION children in South Africa.
We are pleased to have secured a collaboration agreement partnership with various academic institutions (most notably the research department at the University of The Free State) who have commenced independent field measurements and monitoring to and accurately record evaluate the direct impact of the program.
Join THRIVE our community of people just like you who care about fighting malnutrition, and we will periodically share the results once they become available.
Some of the biggest impact we are making can not be measured by charts and graphs alone …
Field Story 1:
A little bit goes a long way
Soweto is one of the largest townships in South Africa. It is home to 1.2 million people from different socio economic backgrounds. Within the pulse of this lively diaspora is a nonprofit Organization that provides care to the most vulnerable and impoverished children of the Emndeni area, through its Community Care Programme.
Five-year-old Mbali Phomiso* is one of 377 children who currently benefit from this Organisation and their holistic offering. She was referred to the Abraham Kriel Bambanani NPC as a beneficiary and started taking MNP’s in March 2021. She lives with her family in a home where all the adults are unemployed, with food parcels not lasting a month. Lack of adequate nutrition and hunger has negatively affected Mbali, which resulted in her being underweight.
Programme Manager at the Abraham Kriel Soweto Family Care, Thandeka Yika, says, “many children are orphaned and affected or infected by HIV/AIDS. Often income is a huge problem at home, causing poor nutrition, malnourishment and other problems.”
Her caregivers found Mbali’s weight concerning and described her as a quiet child who was not active when involved with other children.
After taking MNP’s for two months, her care givers noticed a definite change – not only physically (growth and weight gain with a marked increase in appetite), but she became more alert, active and even started participating in activities and engaging her peers.
“Most of the children need nutritional support to boost their energy and wellbeing especially in the environment they live in,” says Yika whose vision is to raise children who will become responsible adults one day.
Field Story 2:
A Remarkable Journey
Amanuti Seloko* did not have an easy start to life. She was born 7 weeks prem on 27th December 2013. Her mother Sara described the pregnancy as difficult, and Amanuti was born without knees, under developed lungs and her little body was swollen due to water retention. She was admitted to Leratong Hospital where specialists discovered that Amanuti was also born with a fractured leg, a dislocated hip and shoulder.
Sara never gave up on her daughter. Seeking more comprehensive care, she took Amanuti to Fourways Life Hospital where she underwent several operations and had a feeding tube inserted as she couldn’t eat or drink by herself.
At 2 years old and weighing a mere 1.7kg, she was discharged from hospital. Her mother had resigned from work and started an ECD Centre during this period. By the time she turned four, Amanuti was still severely underweight, despite her diet being monitored by a nutritionist. She weighed just 3 kgs (the average weight for girls of this age group is around 18 kgs). Sara, ever tenacious, again searched for an alternative.
In September 2018, her ECD centre was included in the Headstart Kids Nutrition Programme. Amanuti was given MNP’s daily. After 19 months Amanuti showed a clear improvement. Now 6 years old, she was eating well and continued to gain weight. Amanuti had started to regain her balance and now walks without holding the wall.
Amanuti is described as playful and fun and loves the company of other kids!
*Names changed to protect the children’s identity