Mothers, Fathers, relatives, bring their children to a health centre in Kasai region, DR Congo. A series of portraits and stories about malnutrition in Kananga, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Project commissioned by Unicef.
When insecurity started in Kananga, I took refuge in the bush of Mutoto village with my family. Food conditions were terrible. We only eat tubers, fufu and cassava leaves, once a day preferably in the evening; and these conditions have not changed yet. I lost my job as a sentry where I earned a little money and became unemployed since my return so far. I live from small daily jobs that do not bring me much to change the living conditions of my family. I fear to loose my two children who are malnourished now, but fortunately, they benefit from free nutritional care in this health center. I wish the peace to come back in our province and have a good job that will allow me to support my household and educate all my children .
Muya Kapuku, 46, and his two younger children Chosa Kapuku (3) and Muhipayi Kapuku (4) who suffer from malnutrition, at Saint Martyr Health Centre.
I brought my brother Nalula to the health clinic because he suffers from malnutrition. My mother is working in the field. We come from Dibaya. When clashes happened, we had to walk during three days to reach Thiskaji. Since the violences, we only eat cassava, and if my parents find some money we can sometimes by wheat to cook food. But we often sleep with empty stomach. All incomes from the harvests are not sufficient this year to cover all the family expenses. Nothing could be sowed this year, so there is nothing to eat anymore.
I had to stop school last year because of the clashes. Since then I couldn’t go back because my family doesn’t have enough to buy me a new uniform. I would like to become a nurse one day so I could help sick children just like my brother.
Ntambwe and her brother Nalula Kelende, 3 years, at Saint Martyr Health Clinic.
During the clashes, our family found refuge a few kilometers away from a relative. But we didn’t have something to eat everyday. Our children became ill and so they were treated with traditional herbs and leaves. But the diseases, mainly diarrhea, didn’t stop.
With my husband we used to be farmers. Before, we grew and ate rice and beans but now there is nothing there, because we could not sow any seeds last year so there is nothing to harvest now. So we are staying with my sister here. My only wish is to see my children eat and grow up healthy.
Therese Mulopo (22) and Mbombo Marth (4months) at Saint Martyr Health Centre.
We spent 8 months in the bush after clashes happened around Kananga. Two of our kids suffer from acute malnutrition because we couldn’t feed them properly when we fled. Family planning isn’t necessary because only god gives children. We would like peace so we could come back to work.
Mutuamba Gedeon (left), Mbomba Nathalie (right), 34 and 29, with Tshidipi Mutombo (4), Ngalula Mutombo (2) at Saint Martyr Health Clinic.
My daughter was killed when clashes happened in April 2017, leaving behind her 6 orphans that I took care of. Jean’s father died a few years ago already. During the fights, we took refuge in the forest with all the 6 kids. We stayed there for weeks, without any food. This is when Jean fell sick. That’s why I brought him to the center because he suffers from malnutrition. I want him to be better, but I am worried about what tomorrow will bring. I have a small coconuts business, but it is not enough to support well the family. But I am proud to have sent the two oldest ones (11 and 8) to school this year. I would like all of them to go to school one day. This conflict took away my daughter from me, and destroyed the future of my grand children. I would like it to end now.
shiela Masengu, 70, and her grand son Jean, 4 years, at Saint Martyr Health Centre.
“My family had a good life in Malam Fatori. Walking for so long and living all you have behind is painful. It is not ok for children or for adults to live like this. We haven’t done anything wrong.” Fatime Saleh, 10, Chadian returnee from Niger.
I am a mother of six children. When violences broke out, we had to flee with the whole family to the forest. We stayed there for 2 months, eating cassava only and palm oil. All my children fell sick then. They suffered from fever and diarrhea. We had to cure them with traditional health care with tree leaves.
I came back 4 months ago to Tshikaji. Before I had a small shop, but I lost everything when we ran away, all my savings. My husband now does small jobs so all the family can survive.
Despite our situation and small incomes, I proud to have sent all my children to school, because I know how important education is for their future.
Bakena Mukendi, 30, and Manatshitua (28 months) and Bakajika (1 month) at Saint Martyr Health Centre.
I am a mother of six children. They are all adults now. I was visiting our taylor with my grandchild Antoine when clashes happened in our village, Ntumba. His parents were at the village and fled, leaving everything behind. Since then, I never heard of them anymore and I take care of Antoine. He was only one month at the time and still breast-fed by his mother. So he quickly started suffering from malnutrition because I could not breastfeed him myself. I would normally survive with my harvests, but I couldn’t sow anything last year, so I cannot sell food at the market anymore to ear something.