It’s easy to feel powerless against the swell of global crisis and poverty. But there’s also something to smile about: every day, we see incredible stories of survival and recovery. This is one of these stories.

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Adut has had repeated malaria infections and is suffering from severe acute malnutrition. © UNICEF/UN0344853/Wilson


Week 1:


Adut watches on as children run around her home in South Sudan. She refuses to take a step and holds onto support to stand.
 
Only 14-months-old, Adut has had repeated malaria infections and is not eating much these days. Every bite is a struggle. As a result, she doesn’t have the muscles and the energy to stand or walk alone.
Adut is measured by a nutritionist at a healthcare centre in South Sudan. © UNICEF South Sudan/Wilson

At a healthcare centre in Aweil, South Sudan, a nutritionist gently examines Adut. Her mid-upper-arm circumference shows she is severely malnourished and in need of immediate treatment. She weighs just 6.5kg – the normal weight of a child half Adut’s age.
 
Without treatment, severe acute malnutrition (SAM) can be deadly for children because the body doesn’t have the capacity to fight even simple diseases. In 2019 alone, an estimated 260,000 children under the age of five are suffering from the condition in South Sudan. 

 
Adut's malnourishment means she struggles to stand up by herself. She holds onto her mother, Angelina, for support. © UNICEF South Sudan/Wilson
Make A Child Smile

Adut’s mother Angelina is feeding Adut emergency food called Plumpy’Nut ®. 

Plumpy’Nut ® is a peanut paste enriched with vitamins and minerals specially designed for treating children suffering from acute malnutrition. It has a sweet taste, making the ‘medicine’ easier to eat for the children who often don’t have a strong appetite.
Adut is fed Plumpy Nut, a nut-like paste that is packed with vitamins and minerals designed to treat children with malnutrition. © UNICEF South Sudan/Wilson


Week 5:


After five weeks in the UNICEF supported nutrition program, Adut is already more active and regaining energy. Here she is with her sister Lydia, 12. Normally, it takes six to eight weeks for a child to recover from severe acute malnutrition.
 
Adut and her big sister Lydia. After five weeks in the nutrition-program, Adut is starting to regain her strength. © UNICEF South Sudan/Wilson

Adut’s father William is pleased to see her improvement. He has been very worried about his daughter.
 
“Sometimes I don’t sleep, I just think, how can I help Adut?" William says.
"You know, she will be the last one. We have eight children in total and she is the last and that is as special as the first.”
 
“Sometimes I don't sleep, I just
think: How can I help Adut?”
Adut pictured with her dad, William. William was extremely worried about his daughter's health but has noticed improvements. © UNICEF South Sudan/Wilson


Week 8:


Adut is discharged from the nutrition program after eight weeks and is walking around the house without holding on to anything or anyone.
 
“Her body and her face are now healthy and there is no more sickness. She's really moving on well without any problems,” says mum, Angelina, grabbing Adut and placing a big kiss on the now chubby cheeks.
 
“Now that she's healthy she's so playful. She will enter the house and go out again, and you can even send her to go and bring something and she will bring it to you.”
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After eight weeks, Adut is now walking around the house without holding onto anything or anyone. © UNICEF South Sudan/Wilson

UNICEF nutritionist Jesca Wude Murye has stayed with Adut for eight weeks and has noticed a big change.
 
“In addition to gaining weight, Adut’s hair colour has returned to normal and her skin is shinier. She is walking around and her smiles are much more frequent,” says Jesca.
 
Adut’s father William thinks his daughter will do well in life now that she is well.
“Someday, she will be a minister, or even prime minister. Why not?” he says.
UNICEF nutritionist Jesca Wude Murye has stayed with Adut for eight weeks and has noticed a big change. © UNICEF South Sudan/Wilson


Give a child a reason to smile


Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is a very serious condition for children, but it is treatable. Emergency food like Plumpy Nut’ ® gives the children what they need to bounce back to health in just six to eight weeks.

Our team of UNICEF humanitarian workers will go down roads with no names, through war zones and up mountains to reach children most in need of supplies like Plumpy Nut’ ®. 

From January till July 2019, UNICEF South Sudan has treated more than 144,000 children with SAM. Over 90 per cent of them have recovered. We know that when UNICEF can access and treat children, most of them survive and recover. 

UNICEF health workers know how to bring a child back from the brink of deadly malnutrition. We have the global network to respond as soon as children need us in every region of the world. But we can’t do it alone.

What we’re doing is working. Every day, UNICEF donors make thousands of children like Adut smile because they’ve beat malnutrition. But emergencies are stretching our teams and resources to the limit. We've never needed your generosity more.

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With a child dying every five seconds from preventable causes, like malnutrition, our life-saving treatments have never been more important. How much do you know about the effects of malnutrition around the world? 

Put your knowledge to the test.
 
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