In central India, Action Against Hunger's livesaving treatment has reversed Prahlad and his mother Rehka's fortunes

Filled with joy: meeting Prahlad three years on

We check in with 5 year old Prahlad, 3 years after we treated him for life-threatening malnutrition
 

By Tom Fitzpatrick

Oct 20 2016

Prahlad at 18 months

Nestled in the hills of Satpuda in central India, we visit a small village that is home to just a handful of families, and the setting for a heart-warming story of hope. 

One of village’s youngest residents, Prahlad was 18 months when our team in India first met him. Tiny due to being severely malnourished, he weighed just 4.4kg when he arrived at our nutritional rehabilitation centre for life-saving treatment- not much more than a new born baby.

Before receiving treatment for malnoutrition, Prahlad weighed little more than a new born child. Photo: Sanjit Das for Action Against Hunger

His mum, Rehka, had tried everything she could to make him better. Along with Prahlad’s grandmother, Rehka explored every possible home remedy and traditional treatment through local healers, but Prahlad’s condition didn’t improve. He became weaker and weaker. 

"Prahlad no longer played and lost his strength," Rehka said. "He could not even smile or play anymore."

Time was running out for little Prahlad, whose mother felt helpless.  It wasn’t until Sabjaan, an Action Against Hunger trained community health worker living locally, quickly identified that Prahlad should be taken to our nutrition centre nearby that things started to improve.

Prahlad’s treatment

Upon admission to the centre, he was immediately diagnosed with life-threatening malnutrition and put on a tight treatment schedule. For 24 days he received the care and treatment he needed to regain his strength.

He received regular meals, including therapeutic milk crucial to rebuilding his strength. Less than a month later, Prahlad was well on the road to recovery. He was discharged from the health centre, with a food basket given to Rekha and regular follow up care for Prahlad until he was back to full health.

After his treatment, Prahlad was a much healthier and happier child. Photo: Sanjit Das for Action Against Hunger

A u-turn in fortunes

Today, Rekha is eternally grateful to have Prahlad healthy again. 

“My son would have died without treatment and without the reassurance I got from Action Against Hunger staff,” Rekha reiterates. 

The legacy of Prahlad’s treatment is a U-turn in the fortunes for the family. Now five, Prahlad is lively and smart, mimicking his elders. He knows everyone by name in the village, and is always keen to recite his alphabets and numbers to anyone who will listen. ‘Prahlada’ in Sanskrit means ‘filled with joy’, a name that couldn’t be more fitting for the little boy today.

Now aged 5, Prahlad is a cheerful and inquisitive boy. Photo: Action Against Hunger India

This is a stark contrast to just a few years ago. Thinking back to how blank and emotionless Prahlad once was, his mother smiles – “now look at him, he is the funniest creature around and mum’s darling boy!”

Building on her experiences with Prahlad’s illness, Rekha is now more active in the community, responsible for cooking food for the 40 children in the village school nearby. With better food preparation methods, the children in the village are now much less likely to fall ill in the way Prahlad did a few years ago.  

Rehka looks at her son Prahlad proudly, who is holding onto a alphabet book. Photo: Action Against Hunger India

A bright future for Prahlad

Action Against Hunger’s work in India is demonstrating that by training community workers like Sabjaan and embedding them into village life, rates of malnutrition can rapidly improve. Sabjaan helps families by helping to diagnose health problems before they become too problematic, as well as providing emotional support and advice to all those who need it.

Sabjaan’s support ensures mothers like Rekha can hope for bright futures for their children. Rekha dreams that one day Prahlad will become a school teacher. But most of all, Rekha can hope that Prahlad will continue to live up to his name and be ‘filled with joy’, an infectious energy that he now passes to everyone he meets.

Prahlad pictured with friends and family - a village filled with joy! Photo: Action Against Hunger India

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Photos: Action Against Hunger India/ Fight Hunger Foundation