Burundi (MNN) — Believers are fighting to reverse a death trend in one of the world's poorest nations.
Poverty and civil strife plague the nation of Burundi, where a high percentage of children don't make it past their fifth birthday. Food for the Hungry (FH) says a number of factors contribute to this reality.
Rural mothers often take their infants to work in the fields with them, strapping babies to their backs or laying them in the shade as they go about their work. Since running water and soap are a rarity in Burundi, moms have to feed their babies with dirty hands.
Illness is inevitable: diarrhea, vomiting, parasitic worms, and other communicable diseases abound.
In addition, reliable healthcare systems are few and far between in war-torn Burundi. When their babies do get sick, and distance or poverty prevents access to health care, women usually turn to witchdoctors.
"If you notice your babies are not too well, take them to the hospital," says FH care group leader Nyinyireko Leocaide, "Don't take them to the traditional healers."
Leocaide teaches young mothers how to provide good nutrition and hygiene for their infants and toddlers under 2 years old.
The care groups Leocaide leads are just one of many FH efforts sparking a change in Burundi in Jesus' name.
"They [mothers] have learned what to do when a baby is ill," says FH Care Group Supervisor John Rusatire. "And that is to do all they can to quickly take the baby to hospital."
Kaburu Concille, a 25-year-old with three young children, says she's grateful for FH care groups in her community.
"The benefit of this program is good health," says Concille. "My children have good health today. We also were taught about hygiene and are practicing more hygiene than before.
"We have good toilets and compost. So I am learning a lot."
Pray that families in Burundi would draw closer to God as they learn about His design for creation. Pray that more children will be healthy because of these care groups.