Ministry responds to malnutrition in Southeast Asia’s ‘Rice Bowl’

By September 21, 2012

SE Asia (GFA/MNN) — With Southeast Asia's rice fields and fruit trees, it's hard to imagine malnutrition in the midst of vast food sources.

Yet, according to the World Health Organization, the region has the largest population of hungry people in the world. Malnourished mothers are more likely to give birth to underweight babies with compromised immune systems. A weakened immune system puts the child at higher risk of infections and long-term disabilities.

Additionally, although malnutrition has an immediate impact, it haunts the community for at least a generation through the community's economic and physical structure. That's why early intervention becomes crucial to community development.

As part of the Gospel for Asia Bridge of Hope program, children receive medical care that is usually unavailable in their areas. This has a monumental impact in places where many children die from preventable diseases.

For example, one Bridge of Hope center, in partnership with a humanitarian organization, took on the task of fighting one common ailment: blindness.

In their region, green leafy vegetables and other sources of Vitamin A are almost completely absent in children's diets. Poor families can't afford much, so the diet is limited and often doesn't include vegetables. Severe cases of Vitamin A deficiency can lead to weakened immune systems, blindness, or even death.

Knowing that children younger than five are particularly vulnerable to this deficiency, the Bridge of Hope staff designed a seminar to teach about the importance of vitamins. They handed out pamphlets, invited a nurse to speak to the children and their parents about preventing blindness, and then distributed vitamins to each child.

Similar blindness-prevention programs have occurred at other centers in South Asia over the last two years, providing vitamins to more than 5,000 children.

The treatment is part of what Bridge of Hope sponsors provide. When a sponsor helps meet a child's physical needs, it creates a ripple effect. It helps break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, superstition, and ultimately the bondage of the caste system. Children who are admitted to the Bridge of Hope program discover a whole new world. They learn to read and write, play games, and sing songs. Most importantly, they hear of God's love for them and His plan for their lives.

Pray for an open heart to the Holy Spirit. In every Bridge of Hope school program, each child has the opportunity to hear and understand how treasured he or she is in the eyes of God. Pray that the Gospel planted bears fruit. One child's education through the Bridge of Hope could mean the transformation of an entire village. Check our Featured Links Section for details.

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