A Village Girl’s Journey from Malnutrition to Hope


In the remote village of Samabad, nestled within the dusty plains of Pakistan, lived a little girl named Anmol. She was a mere 24 months old, yet her tiny frame bore the cruel marks of severe malnutrition. Her parents, Ghulam Mustafa and his wife, were simple laborers struggling to make ends meet, unaware of the deadly grip malnutrition had on their daughter.

Enter Sumera, a dedicated Community Health Worker from WEP, an organization dedicated to empowering women and children. During a routine screening, Sumera’s keen eyes identified Anmol’s severe condition. Her MUAC (mid-upper arm circumference) measured a mere 10.2cm, a stark indicator of malnutrition.

Initially, Anmol’s parents were hesitant to seek treatment. Fear and lack of awareness about malnutrition’s dangers held them back. However, Sumera, fueled by unwavering determination, used her skills in community mobilization to gently guide them towards the nearest OTP (Outpatient Therapeutic Program) center.

At the center, Anmol received the much-needed care and nutrition. The skilled staff of WEP and AAP-Health, a collaborative project, provided her with therapeutic food and monitored her progress closely. Slowly but surely, Anmol began to gain weight and strength. Her MUAC increased to 11.8cm, a sign of her improving health.

Anmol’s story became a beacon of hope for the entire community of Samabad. Witnessing her remarkable recovery, others were motivated to learn about proper nutrition and healthcare. The fear and stigma surrounding malnutrition began to fade, replaced by a sense of cooperation and commitment to children’s health.

Today, Anmol is a thriving child, filled with laughter and energy. Her parents, overwhelmed by gratitude, express their heartfelt thanks to WEP and AAP-Health for giving their daughter a second chance at life. Anmol’s journey is a testament to the power of collaboration and community engagement in combating malnutrition and empowering children to reach their full potential. It is a story that continues to inspire hope and action, not only in Samabad but across countless communities in Pakistan.

Aneela’s Journey: Nurturing Health Against All Odds

In the heart of the Ghotki district, in the village of Kalo Khan Sanghi, a story of resilience unfolds. Aneela, an 18-month-old child, found herself at the center of a health crisis that threatened her well-being. Born into the humble abode of Mr. Balam, Aneela’s family struggled with the harsh realities of living in a mud-built house amidst critical health and WASH conditions. Unaware of proper hygiene practices, the entire village grappled with fundamental health and sanitation issues on personal, domestic, and communal levels.

Aneela’s challenges were manifold—she was not exclusively breastfed, animal milk was introduced prematurely, and her cries during feeding hinted at her discomfort. With a hungry and weak appearance, Aneela’s mother, burdened by household chores, struggled to provide the attention her child needed.

Enter the Women Empowerment Program (WEP), bringing hope and guidance to Aneela’s family. Through comprehensive counseling, Aneela’s parents received vital instructions: exclusive breastfeeding until six months, continued breastfeeding until 24 months, and creating a comfortable feeding environment. The importance of hygiene for both mother and child was emphasized, marking the beginning of a transformative journey.

Despite initial hesitancy, Aneela’s parents embraced the guidance during regular follow-up visits. The mother’s attachment during breastfeeding improved, and she became an active participant in the child’s well-being. Through continuous counseling on exclusive breastfeeding and vaccination, the family made positive strides.

Aneela’s pre-situation, captured in a photograph, revealed a family unaware of their child’s critical condition. With a MUAC of 11.0, Aneela was identified as a Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) case. WEP’s Community Health Worker (CHW) Ms. Zameeran successfully motivated the parents to take Aneela to the nearest OTP center. The Nutrition Assistant admitted Aneela, directing her parents to weekly visits until recovery.

The post-situation photograph paints a different picture—Aneela’s MUAC improved to 12.4cm. Over three months, the family implemented suggestions, enhancing health and hygiene practices. The CHW played a crucial role in capacity-building, focusing on proper breastfeeding and complementary feeding.

The success factors behind Aneela’s transformation included consistent follow-ups, timely OTP visits, and improvements in hygiene conditions. The results were tangible: Aneela’s mother abandoned bottle feeding, embraced health facility visits, committed to breastfeeding until 24 months, and witnessed her child’s increased comfort during feeding.

The lesson learned was profound—the family’s gratitude extended to the CHW, WEP staff, and the OTP team for their unwavering guidance and support. Aneela’s story stands as a testament to the transformative impact of community health initiatives, proving that with guidance, commitment, and continuous support, even the most challenging health situations can be overcome.

Empowering Health in Manik Gaon: A Tale of Transformation

In the heart of Ghotki district lies  Manik Gaon, a community of approximately 1910 individuals where the pursuit of education is a distant dream for many. With a literacy ratio ranging from 15 to 45%, the majority of residents engage in agricultural pursuits, while a handful depend on daily wage labor. The lack of education and awareness about health and hygiene has woven a fabric of unhealthy lifestyles in this community.
Meet Ayesha, a dedicated Community Health Worker (CHW) tirelessly working in Sundar Gaon. Armed with a commitment to elevate the health standards of her community, Ayesha conducts monthly screenings and hosts sessions on health, hygiene, and the benefits of iron-folic acid tablets (IFAS) for Pregnant and Lactating Women (PLWs). Through her relentless efforts, the community began to grasp the significance of IFAS and gradually incorporated it into their daily routines.
In the midst of this transformation, a poignant story unfolded. Farida, a pregnant woman with a four-month pregnancy, found herself in the clutches of malnutrition. Married at a young age to Khalid, who is still pursuing his education, Farida faced financial constraints that prevented her from seeking private healthcare. Weak and unhealthy, her plight mirrored the challenges faced by many in the village.
Upon Ayesha’s screening and mobilization, Farida embraced the regimen of taking IFAS regularly. Ayesha, not merely content with the distribution of tablets, emphasized the crucial role of hygiene in overall health.
Navigating through the challenges of early child marriages, the absence of a local health facility, pervasive poverty, limited education, and societal taboos surrounding women, Ayesha persisted in her mission. During her routine visits, she engaged with community members, elucidating the importance of health and hygiene sessions, and reinforcing the usage of IFAS and Micronutrient Powders (MNPs).
The challenges were daunting, but the outcomes were transformative. Farida’s health improved remarkably through the consistent use of IFAS. A once weak and unhealthy expectant mother now radiated vitality and gratitude. Her heartfelt thanks extended to CHW Ayesha and the Women Empowerment Program (WEP) team for orchestrating this positive change.
The success of Farida’s story is not merely a testament to overcoming health challenges but a beacon of hope illuminating the path towards a healthier, more aware community. In the face of adversity, Ayesha’s commitment and the collaborative efforts of the community stand as a testament to the transformative power of health education and empowerment. The ripple effects of their journey are bound to leave an indelible mark on the landscape of Sundar Gaon, sparking a wave of improved health and well-being for generations to come.