Cissy Namulondo, a mother of five, finds it hard to believe that her youngest child, Esther, is still alive.
Having already lost two toddlers to malnutrition, Namulondo saw similar symptoms in Esther. Taking matters into her own hands, Namulondo tried to save Esther’s life by continually feeding her the only nutrition within reach: a diet of starchy foods. The narrow diet lacking protein and vitamins advanced Esther’s condition. Eventually, Namulondo “lost all hope” for her daughter’s survival.
In July 2015, Namulondo’s house was randomly selected by the CSRL for a nutrition survey. Upon encountering Esther, staff advised Namulondo to take her daughter to the local hospital. Esther was diagnosed with severe malnutrition, a bacterial infection and malaria parasites.
Once Esther stabilized, she and her mother were admitted to Naluwoli Nutrition Education Center (NEC). In about a year, Esther’s weight doubled and Namulondo had completed the NEC’s training requirements in nutrition, agriculture, sanitation and other areas. Employing her newly learned skills, Namulondo has been able to maintain Esther’s health and the health of her entire family. She describes Esther as “cheerful, active and with a good appetite.”
Beyond her family, Namulondo has become a change agent in her community. She identifies and refers cases of malnutrition to the NEC and organizes women to walk to the NEC together. In this way, Namulondo takes after her mentor from the NEC, Mary Sseguya.
Sseguya, a former NEC client, is a leading NEC trainer. She supervises the newly formed Crafts Project, which aims to help women earn an income through the creation and marketing of baskets, jewelry and other handmade crafts.
Namulondo and Sseguya are two of a few thousand women who have improved their lives since the first NEC was established in 2011. By transferring their new knowledge and skills to other women, Namulondo and Sseguya ensure the sustainability of NEC programs while advancing the physical and financial health of their families and communities.