«My name is Isaya and I am father of two sons: Innocent and Steven. Innocent is now hospitalized here, at the malnutrition unit of the hospital, while Steven is living with his aunt. We arrived here two weeks ago, as we noticed a wired swelling of Innocent’s hands. I was worried about his conditions and I wanted him to be examined in order to receive medicine to make him feel better. However, the doctors decided to hospitalize him, as he was diagnosed with Kwashiorkor, a serious form of malnutrition, due to a lack of proteins and other nourishing elements essential in children’s diet. He needed oxygen to breathe and a feeding tube to be nourished. I felt reassured when I noticed how doctors were taking care of him.

Innocent had been hospitalized for one and a half month at the intensive therapy unit. Once his conditions improved, he could be dismissed. He was finally able to talk, play, eat and moreover, he told his mother: “I prefer rise than ugali”. Unfortunately, his health conditions suddenly got worse again; therefore, here we are one more time. I had to leave my work and come here at my sister’s house, located in a village near Ipamba, to support my son.

Since I came here, doctors and nurses taught me how to take care of my son, how to properly prepare and warm milk and how often should I give him the food. Therefore, I wanted to help other mothers in the unit, explaining them how to take care of their children. During the night, I wake them up to remember that it is time to prepare milk. I taught them how to check their children’s temperature and if too high, report it to nurses. A childhood development specialist is organizing activities and plays to stimulate Innocent’s development and to communicate with me, his mother and other children.

I am the only one father at the unit, as normally in our culture children care is not men responsibility. They are ashamed of it leaving the whole responsibility to mothers who need to provide themselves alone to their children. If I had the possibility to talk to them, I would tell them that when you become parent your son is a gift and it is important for the whole community. It is important to involve fathers in children’s growth, educating and raising awareness among villages about health and children care. My friend asked me often why I am in the hospital, as if it were wired; and I usually answer “Yes, I am taking care of my son, I want him to be healthy again and feel good”. Unfortunately, there is a lack of education; we have not enough instruments to understand the importance of personal and children’s healthcare. Therefore, it is essential that community operators go to villages to raise awareness among communities about many themes, especially, giving advises about proper nutrition, health education and good hygienic practices. I would like to do the same to avoid that other children could suffer as my son».

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