The Search For Food - The Story of Sunday & Blue

Every day, nine-year-old Blue carries his four-year-old brother Sunday to school so that he can get his one meal of the day.

Although five years apart, Blue and Sunday are joined closer together than most brothers by tragic circumstances. A hunger crisis that is sweeping across East Africa has left Sunday battling for his life. Severe Acute Malnutrition means he is too weak to run or play and doesn’t have the energy to find the words to speak. But it’s his brother Blue, who is helping him fight for his life. 

After their mother passed away, the boys were left in the care of their aunt who has other children to feed. Nine-year-old Blue spends the afternoons tending to the few goats they have left after most of the herd died, as well as searching for wildberries to eat. The wildberries aren’t particularly nutritious and can give the children diarrhea, but for a second they provide relief from the constant pangs of hunger.

When his brother needs to go somewhere, he carries him, because he is too weak to walk. Both boys are suffering the effects of malnutrition, but Sunday’s health is declining quickly and needs urgent medical attention. 

When Sunday arrived at World Vision’s mobile health clinic, he was weighed and his arm circumference was measured. However, our staff were able to tell just by looking at Sunday that he was battling some of the worst forms of malnutrition. His armband flashed red, indicating Severe Acute Malnutrition – the most dangerous form of malnutrition, and automatically sparked action from our staff to enroll him into the therapeutic feeding program that would save his life.


What World Vision is doing:

Three kilometers from where Sunday lives, World Vision has set up one of 40 mobile health clinics to respond to the malnutrition crisis hitting this area. This simple intervention is the difference in life and death for hundreds if not thousands, of children like Sunday. For families who are battling the fatigue and weakness caused by malnutrition, the distance to get to the hospital (sometimes up to 30 km)  is just too far. World Vision’s first line of defence here is to ensure children don’t fall through the cracks by bringing services right to where they are. 

Sachets of protein-rich “RUTF” (Ready to Use Therapeutic Food) pack a mighty punch in the battle against SAM and will likely be the measure that helps Sunday’s body recover. For eight weeks World Vision staff will closely track Sunday’s recovery, along with the increasing number of children like him. 


From surviving to going back to school:

At Sunday’s next screening, the staff at the mobile clinic are happy to report that he is making progress. His armband now reads between red and yellow, meaning he is still moderately malnourished, but it’s enough progress to free him from the grip of death – a small but significant win. 

It’s a big moment for our staff, who have gotten to know Sunday and Blue by seeing them each week. It’s a big moment for the two boys as well: Sunday is finally well enough to return to school. Although still too frail to walk the 7-kilometer distance to get there, his brother is doing whatever it takes to get him there. And that means carrying him.

At school, he won’t just have the opportunity to regain a sense of childhood by playing with other children and learning about the world - he will also, importantly, receive a meal. A reliable daily meal will be what enables Sunday to move from just surviving to the possibility of thriving. It turns the dial from survival towards resilience and long-term impact.

It’s because of this that Blue is willing to carry his brother seven kilometers to school. Every day, until he is well enough to walk himself. 

“Hunger has emotionally affected my children. I see them going through the night without food, and it feels so bad, that pain caused by hunger. When my children go to school they get food once a day and when they come back they don’t get food from home.

Water sources dried, the animals we had all died of drought. After the animals died, the hunger came.
Before drought we used to have a good life. A lot of animals could produce milk, we could get meat and we could even sell some of them. Hunger affects my family, my children’s health since they don’t feed well nowadays. It even has affected my marriage. It separated me from my husband. I have three children and I’m taking care of two of my brother’s children. 

We are living with nothing. What I earn it is not enough. Food prices have gone up. I can not provide enough from what I sell. 

I grew up knowing that life was good. It is good when it rains regularly and animals reproduce and produce milk. It has been more than two years since it has rained in Turkana. My children’s weight has gone down because the food I give them is too little. I can’t provide a full meal throughout the day. 

World Vision has greatly helped us since they provided the nutrition programme for malnourished children. My hope is that my children go to school so that in the future they become great people around this area, so that they come and help us too.”

Joyce, Blue & Sunday's aunt


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Written By: 
World Vision Singapore