Bright is a 13-month-old boy from Buhigwe Village with an infectious smile. Yet underneath it lies a cleft palate that makes it difficult for him to nurse. His mother, Hilda Robert, breastfed Bright with difficulties for two months until her mother in law told her to stop. The elder mother believed Hilda’s breast was dirty and could not produce enough milk to suffice for Bright’s need.
Hilda introduced porridge to Bright at 3 months of age, and that’s when his weight started to deteriorate slowly. By 6 months, he had become severely malnourished when community health worker Laurent Ngonga came across Bright and his mother.
Ngonga referred Robert and baby to ASTUTE’s Positive Deviance/Hearth program, which uses only locally available food to treat malnourished children. ASTUTE is funded by UK aid from the British people and implemented by IMA World Health in Tanzania’s Lakes region, where malnutrition is prevalent. Hearth sessions gather mothers in affected communities together to drive home the importance of nutrition for mother and baby, as well as the critical need to breastfeed children under 2. In partnership with the Government of Tanzania, ASTUTE has implemented hearth sessions across five Lake Zone regions. The program has been shown to decrease levels of malnutrition in children under age 5 with up to 85 percent gaining sufficient weight after 12 to 30 days.