A mother’s determination to ensure her child’s health

Baby on mother's back

She holds a white basin firmly in her hands as she approaches the small garden with a determined look in her eye. Chilufya Musonda, a 30-year-old single mother with mounting bills to pay, stops briefly to re-adjust the chitenge wrap that firmly secures the baby girl on her back.

Finally in the garden; Musonda gently pulls at a luminously succulent red tomato and places it in her basin. She repeats this action several times, loading her mid-sized basin with vegetables of various shapes, sizes and colours. When she’s done; she heads back home to begin to prepare their meals.

Mother feeding Child porridge
Chilufya Musonda feeding her one year old daughter Tehila. Taken on Nokia 8 phone.

Chilufya Musonda has been witness to what malnourishment can do to young children, as many of the children in the areas she has lived in before were extremely vulnerable to diet-based illnesses.

According to Humanium.org; a mother’s nutrition is also equally important, as a malnourished mother can in-turn give birth to an underweight new-born. More than 10% of Zambian new-borns are underweight and thus, this sets those children up for a lifetime of substandard health.

Zambian children face stunted growth and high mortality rates because of malnutrition. In order to combat this, in 2018 UNICEF, the government of Zambia and other parties created an enabling environment to support mothers and children by advocating to reduce the country’s high levels of stunting.

This was done through policy support, health system strengthening, improved service delivery, engagement with communities to improve child care and feeding and increased use of high impact health services among mothers, children and adolescents.

Speaking as she feeds her child the thick mealie-meal porridge she has just prepared; Musonda states that she believes that along with government and NGO intervention; mothers should take the initiative to ensure that their children are properly fed and cared for, because they are the first point of contact for their own children.

Observing the playful and healthy baby girl in her arms, it’s clear to see that Chilufya Musonda’s efforts to provide for her child are clearly working.

Woman with baby on back collecting vegetables from garden
Chilufya Musonda picks vegetables from her garden to sell with her daughter on her back.
A mother’s nutrition is also equally important, as a malnourished mother can in-turn give birth to an underweight new-born. This sets those children up for a lifetime of substandard health

According to Musonda, ‘good nutrition is good for babies because it helps them be active and strong’. This is an important fact that has been recognised by the Zambian government, as one of Zambia’s sustainable development goals just happens to be ‘Zero Hunger’ by 2022.

This is supported by the absolute mantra that ‘all children have the right to grow healthy and fit’. It is the responsibility of parents and guardians to ensure that the basic needs of the children in their care are met.

This is seen through the efforts of many underprivileged women like Chilufya Musonda. However, Zambia faces high levels of poverty. Despite this, Zambian children do not suffer from extreme hunger, as their diet mostly lacks the basic nutritional elements essential for healthy growth. As an answer to this, Musonda has taken it upon herself to start her own vegetable garden both as a source of income and nutrition for her children.