Step One: Treating Acute Malnutrition
Over the past three years, we have found the great majority of children in care suffer from malnutrition, so naturally, working to alleviate this is our first step. Approximately 5 million people are undernourished in Nepal, making it number 72 of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index (GHI). It's the NAFANourishes Project's mission to lessen those numbers.
With the help of Plumpy'Sup, a food supplement typically used in refugee camps, we can do this. After each child is assessed, we provide a daily, 6 month course of Plumpy'Sup, meant to raise them above the 25th percentile in height and weight measurement. Next is a six-month course of multivitamins - gummies, at their request!
We give these six months to provide time for our homes to raise funds so they can maintain this part of the program after we leave. Once the training is given and the supplements have been introduced, we hand the daily distribution off to the home "mom" and quickly get to work creating a kitchen garden and developing a meal plan that fits into the home's budget and gives each child exactly what they need to grow big and strong!
Step Two: Training and Modules
Sustainability is the main tenant of NAFANourishes! Our goal is to work in tandem with our nursing staff, the home's directors and caregivers and existing Nepali based organizations to develop programs that can continue long after we leave - and can be claimed and built upon by those who will benefit.
We have developed training and modules in 5 keys areas: Basic Hygiene, Cleaning, Food + Health, Water and Good Habits. Within each, we have training, education and activities designed for every member of the home.
Step Three: Kitchen Gardens & Meal Planning
Arguably our favorite part of the process! Each home's physical space is evaluated to determine what can be grown in their space, either in land adjacent or on a rooftop or patio garden. Once planting has begun, the home is given our NAFANourishes cookbook, tailored to their particular needs and resources available.
NAFANourishes lead nurse, Indu Sapkota's degree is focused in nutrition and she has worked to develop this customized book for each home, taking into account a few different factors: budget, home size, and what can be grown or easily accessed in nearby markets. We also consider the time it takes to feed a large group, cultural food norms and even likes and dislikes as we hear them from the kids.
Step 4: Chicken Coop and/or Cow Farming
While this is not something that can be done at every home due to the need for land and the willingness and ability to care for these animals, n the homes that can accommodate them, we go all in!
Chickens make eggs, and those eggs provide the homes with 6 grams of protein per serving. Cows make milk, and that milk provides 8 grams of protein per cup. It's recommended that growing children eat 1 gram of protein per kg of their weight and in a full house, that adds up to a lot of eggs and milk.
By creating these small, sustainable farms at the orphanage, we allow the home to produce something that if purchased would have eaten most of their monthly food budget - and the leftovers? Well, those they can sell in local markets!