Tears for bread

By: Astrid Zacipa, World Vision Communicator, Colombia

Leidy Johana, 24, cannot hold back her tears when she realises that today she has nothing to feed her son Brayan, age eight, before he goes to school.

Despite the efforts of Brayan’s father, jobs in the community are as scarce as food. It has been a week since Brayan’s family has eaten meat or any food protein that is needed to perform a typical day.When Brayan is able to have breakfast, he has bread and “agua de panela” (a drink made of sugar cane).Brayan’s poor diet and nutrition has stunted his development. Although eight years old, Brayan looks like a 6-year-old boy. He is thin and small. He is in first grade - behind for his age.

Malnutrition is a serious problem is Brayan’s community.

The facts about malnutrition:

  • Right now more than 870 million people in the world do not have enough to eat;
  • The vast majority of these people (98 percent) live in developing countries;
  • Women make up just over half of the world’s population, but account for over 60% of the world’s hungry;
  • Under-nutrition at an early age can have long term effects on a child’s development – currently one in four of the world’s children (173 million) have been left sstunted due to lack of appropriate nutrition in early life;
  • Undernutrition is an underlying factor in 45% of deaths of children under age five

 World Vision has been supporting a nutrition programme in Brayan's community.

At present, there are 5 soup kitchens running with World Vision's support. These are the only ones operating in the area since the government cut their funding to soup kitchen programmes this year.

The kitchens are maintained and run by community members in order to improve the nutritional condition of the 750 children who are in vulnerable to malnutirion in the area.On a typical day, before the soup kitchens open at 11 a.m., you can see rows of children, some accompanied by a parent, waiting for the doors to open. For two hours the children enter and leave.

In this particular municipality, unemployment is high. Given the low-income of family, children have their lunch nearly 365 days of the year at the kitchen.

A requirement for the participating children is that their parents attend workshops organised by World Vision where they learn about good nutrition habits to be practiced at home.

World Vision works with community members at the soup kitchen to:

  1. To ensure proper nutritional care:  control of weight and height of children involved
  2. To carry out nutritional training for the parents of young children
  3. To support the management of a parent committee who oversee the programme


The Child Health Now campaign is seeker to further public awareness about malnutrition.  It seeks to address the gap between policy and implementation in the form of available quality health services in many countries. Governments must be held accountable to health commitments including the MDG targets and the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

For more information about malnutrition click HERE.