It is a sunny day in the village of Ambohidasy Itaosy. Sitraka and Miranto play together in the courtyard of Sitraka’s house. Miranto helps Sitraka as they each throw stones as far as they can. Sitraka leans on the arm of his friend, as Miranto leads him across the courtyard to compare how far their stones went.
At first glance, one might think how nice it is that the older boy is helping the younger one. The two boys are in fact the same age, five years old. They were born on the same day. However, next to healthy and normally developed Miranto, Sitraka is small, thin and weary.
He suffers from chronic malnutrition.
His mother Mariette explains how her son was born underweight: “The pregnancy went well,” she says, “but I did not have enough to eat and I was working a lot. Even now, I sell what I can, but at times I only make 1,500 ariary (around 65 Australian cents) a day. It is not enough to feed myself and my three other children. My husband works too, but he spends his money on drink.”