Michael Aventi has made it a life goal to bring to the world’s attention the severe health issues currently impacting Africa – especially Mozambique. Aventi runs a successful practice in the US – he’s an attorney for social security disability and has used his success to fund Save Mozambique, an NGO based in Maputo, the country’s capital city. Although there is no such thing as social security disability in African countries, his legal acumen has been an asset as he navigates the legal requirements necessary to promote change in third world environments.
Mozambique is a country twice the size of California located on the south-east coast of Africa with a population of 18 million. A 20 year civil war ravaged the country. Shortly after the war ended in 1996, floods in 1998 reaped more damage on Mozambique. Now, AIDS is devastating the country with a prevalence is as high as 23% in some regions and leaving thousands of children orphaned. In addition to AIDS, malaria, cholera, limited access to fresh water, and other health problems are prevalent throughout the country. As of 2011 Up to 44 percent of children in Mozambique suffer from chronic malnutrition.
Although Mozambique’s children die less from acute malnutrition than they did 10 or 20 years ago, their quality of life remains poor with diarrhea and worms affecting a child´s uptake of nutrients and malaria reducing the levels of iron in their blood. Symptoms of malnutrition seen in Mozambique’s children include: the failure to grow at the expected rate, known as “failure to thrive” in the West, changes in behaviour such as appearing unusually irritable, sluggish or anxious and changes in hair and skin color. In addition malnutrition compromises a child’s immune system. They become more susceptible to diseases such as pneumonia, malaria and HIV. Micronutrient deficiencies are another major manifestation of malnutrition. Children in drought-affected areas in Mozambique are more at risk of being malnourished as are children orphaned due to the ravaging effects of AIDS.
Where is the outrage? Most people in the western countries care more about finding a sale on Raquel Welch wigs, deciding where to eat out on the weekend, or planning vacations than offering aid and assistance to the children in Mozambique.
Amazon-Africa Aid and the Fundação Esperança have partnered with the Mozambique NGO Reencontro to help improve the lives of over 4,000 children orphaned by AIDS. Roughly translated, “Reencontro” means to “Reunite.” Reencontro works to do just that… reunite children with their community.
Reencontro trains community activists and leaders to help provide food, educational materials, and counseling to the orphans. Each child has two activists who work with him/her to ensure that they eat properly, attend school, and stay healthy.
Additionally, Reencontro work with other organizations to ensure the care of people infected with AIDS and work to prevent the spread of the disease.
UNICEF, the largest relief fund on an international level is active in combating malnutrition in Mozambique. They help support Mozambique’s Ministry of Health in three main areas. They are scaling up a Basic Nutrition Package in health facilities while promoting infant and young child feeding in communities. UNICEF and Mozambique’s Ministry of Health are also expanding selective feeding interventions for malnourished children in both the urban areas and in the country side.
However, more organizations large and small need to become involved in this effort.