Thousands of kids not getting right food

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Monday, July 28, 2014


ACCORDING to the latest data of the Operation Timbang program of the City Government of Davao, more than 2,000 children in the city are suffering severe acute malnutrition. The common cases of malnutrition were recorded are in the downtown where there are informal settlers.

Cases of malnutrition are often attributed to children who are underweight, severely underweight, overweight or obese.

The problem on malnutrition is evident in most of the households in Barangay Piapi Boulevard, Davao City.

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Nerissa Lim, a resident for almost 15 years, admitted that despite being able to give her family three meals a day, she knows the food they're eating are not nutritious enough for her children’s health.

Lim, a mother of a three, six, and eight year-old kids, relies on her sari-sari store for income. What she earns from this store is enough only to serve egg, noodles, and canned goods during meal time.

"Lisod kaayo ipaigo ang halin sa tindahan kay ibudget pa sa mga gastuhon sa balay tapos baon pa sa mga bata sa eskwelahan so ang mabilin mao natong para sa pagkaon na gamay nalang gyud mabilin (It's very hard to budget the small income I get from my store especially that I have to save some of it for our daily expenses and school allowance. The remaining money is what is left to buy food),"Lim said.

Despite her efforts to be the provider for the family, it is obvious that it's not enough; her children’s thin frames are evidence enough.

Asked what their favorite food is, all three answered noodles and chichirya.

"Kung dako lang gyud pud ko ug ma-income maihatag man gyud nako ilang mga gusto na pagkaon (If only I have money, I would be able to give my family the food they need)," she said.

She does not know that there is a government program against malnutrition. She is still hoping that such program will be offered to her.

Amie Plazos, also a resident of Barangay Piapi Boulevard for 20 years, also bemoans lack of budget although she and her husband are able to provide the family of six members with complete meal and a snack every day.

"Ang akong asawa kay panday sa Matina tapos naa koy tindahan so murag madala man ang adlaw-adlaw na pangkaon ug panggasto sa mga bata (My husband works as a carpenter in Matina and for my part I own a sari-sari store, so both of our earnings compensate the expenses of our family)," she said.

She said they get to eat chicken, hotdog, and beef, but admits that during school days when there are a lot to attend to, their regular fare is noodles and canned goods.

"Kaupat mi gakaon sa isa kaadlaw so dili gyud na kulang sa sustansya akong mga anak (We eat four times in a day and with that I'm sure my children are healthy)," she said.

Like Lim, Plazos hopes that all the nutritional programs of the government will reach their barangay.

"Dili man gud always okay among kwarta so basig muabot ang time na dili na namo mahatag ilang pangangailangan so unta naa sila para makatabang sa amoa (Since our source of income is not stable, there will be time shwen we cannot provide everything our children need. I hope the government is there to help us)," Plazos said.

She added, "Sa karon sa school lang naay mga feeding programs so didto ra makaapil ana na mga activities (As of now, my children were able to avail their school's feeding programs."

Government nutritional programs have not reached Piapi along Quezon Boulevard, where malnutrition is high as based on data from the Department of Health in 2013.

In the data, Talomo had the highest recorded cases of malnutrition with 500.

Khristine Calliao, a resident of Talomo South, said her two children suffer serious malnutrition.

As a single parent, Calliao has been having difficulty providing for themselves, especially because she does not have the needed education for a stable job.

"I want to give my children the life they deserve but unfortunately my earning as an extra in household chores does not suffice," she said in the vernacular.

Like the two women, she still has to avail of government’s nutrition programs.

The situation became worse for these households after Barangay Piapi Boulevard was affected by a big fire incident that happened last April. Thousands were displaced and lost the meager possessions they had.

Poverty is still the leading factor of malnutrition, and with more and more poor people trying their luck in the city, poverty is increasing.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 29, 2014.

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