ONE IN ONE HUNDRED MILLION: PRISCILLA AND EDINANSI'S STORY
Originally published at vitaminangels.org.
“The children thrive when they are healthy.” Edinansi, a grandmother and farmer from Uganda, spoke in reference to all of the children in her community, but it was clear that she had one particular child in mind – her four-year-old granddaughter, Priscilla. The girl sat by her grandmother’s side and listened curiously to our conversation under a large, tent-like structure.
As one of the children we’ve reached through our partnership with Walgreens, Priscilla is a notable example of how dramatically vitamins can change a child’s life. Although her grandmother spoke at length about the power of vitamins and how they positively impacted her granddaughter, one only had to observe Priscilla to see the effects in action.
Priscilla’s bright eyes, big smile, and energetic, enthusiastic demeanor were indicative of her improved health. She happily trailed after her grandmother as we left the cool shade of the tent and followed them through the 1 ½-acre farm that Edinansi cultivates for income.
Clad in a light blue dress accented with white flowers, Priscilla was a picture of youthful health. Her delicate hands skimmed the towering crops that flanked our path as her feet pitter-pattered after Edinansi. It was hard to imagine that the vibrant little girl, now attached at the hip to her beloved grandmother, was once weak and sickly. But Edinansi recalled that, prior to taking the vitamin A and deworming tablets provided at a local vitamin distribution, Priscilla lacked the vivacity that she exudes today.
"Prevention is better than having to cure." — Edinansi
Edinansi attributes Priscilla’s poor health for the first 1 ½ years of her life to the absence of the girl’s mother, who was in school when she gave birth to Priscilla. Edinansi took Priscilla in to provide the maternal care her mother was unable to give at the time; unfortunately, this means Priscilla did not benefit from breastfeeding, which Edinansi knows is very important. Luckily, once Priscilla was able to receive vitamin supplementation, Edinansi’s worries were alleviated.
“Every time she takes the vitamins, she gets healthier and healthier,” she beamed.
Once Edinansi witnessed the vitamins’ effects on Priscilla, she committed herself to advocating for vitamins and educating other mothers in her 2,000+ resident community. Wherever she goes, she makes a point to talk to other moms and encourage them to be proactively involved in matters related to their children’s health, noting that, in general, healthier children get sick less frequently and have better immune systems. Her confident tone and influence as an older, respected member of the community give her clout, she said.
“I tell them, ‘The vitamins are good for the health of your kids. You don’t need your baby to be unhappy,’” she said. For further proof, she introduces them to Priscilla to illustrate how healthy their own children could be. She also points out other healthy children who are running and playing and says, “Don’t you want your child to be like them?” She was proud to share with us, accompanied with a laugh, that after she lectures mothers, “they’re usually the first people in line at the next health outreach to get vitamins.”
Edinansi pointed out the wide variety of foods she grows as we strolled through her fields – bananas, mangoes, beans, coffee, and potatoes. We marveled at how many crops she had, considering that she managed all of them while taking care of Priscilla and another grandchild. In response, she said that she likes to work so that they can have a good life and go to school. For Priscilla in particular, she has dreams for her to “get a good education and a good paying job” one day, so that she can help her when she’s older.
“I hope she will live a healthy life,” Edinansi said, acknowledging her small shadow dressed in blue. “I believe she will, because we make it a point to go to every distribution.” Her other hope is that one day, all of the other children in the community will do the same, and her self-appointed role as an advocate for vitamins will no longer be necessary.
“Prevention is better than having to cure,” she said.
Through its collaboration with Walgreens, Vitamin Angels has supplied vitamins that prevent blindness and other serious conditions associated with childhood undernutrition to 100 million children, like Priscilla, worldwide.