Published
October 1, 2019

Too Late for Jovia

Joy Kauffman, MPH

Jennifer, Jovia’s mom, embraced the message of FARM STEW. Our trainer, Dan Bautama (in the green) started working in her rural community in Eastern Uganda a few months ago. He first focused heavily on “Sanitation” when he realized that there were very few latrines and no handwashing stations existed. Kids with runny noses proved the point.

Thanks to your support, when Joy arrived in May, tippy- taps were everywhere and the community had made much progress. They were proud to share all that they had learned!

Jennifer loved her tippy-tap so much that I featured this shot of her washing her hands on our new E-learning home page.  I looked at this picture so many times this summer as we diligently prepared lessons that would someday bless millions (we hope) with FARM STEW’s recipe of abundant life.

Jennifer washes her hands at her new tippy tap, with Dan (in green) and the community sharing the moment. Jovia rests on Jennifer's back.

I wept when I received this news from Dan last month:

“Hello Madam Joy, with deep sorrow I announce the death of our beloved child from Buwambiidhi FARMSTEW group. I hope you remember that child when we visited that village in the sugarcane plantation. We had come for the training today, unfortunately, we found sad news, we are now attending the burial.”

Why am I tearing up even now?

Statistically, Jovia is one of the millions, yet her death was personal to ourFARM STEW family and to me.After a few months of FARM STEW training in the Buwambiidhi community in Eastern Uganda, many small kitchen gardens had started to produce food. Villagers diligently cultivated the area around their homes.

Joanita, FARM STEW trainer, works with villagers including Jovia in Buwambiidhi Village in their new FARM STEW gardens.

Sadly, as you can see above, much of what we taught regarding “Farming,”couldn’t be implemented though because the land surrounding the village was dedicated to growing sugarcane instead of growing nutrient-dense foods.Multiyear contracts from multinational companies are tempting to impoverished people but they end up losing more than they gain.

That’s why our “Enterprise” training is so important!

When I met Jennifer I was immediately concerned with her baby Jovia’s hair. The red patch spots of fuzz revealed a child that was severely malnourished. I askedDan to help us talk about it.After learning that Jennifer was feeding Jovia mostly corn porridge, I could assume Jovia was lacking protein, iron, Vitamin C, which would help with iron absorption, and B-vitamins as well.

Jennifer resisted, in part because she could not imagine that her plump little Jovia could be malnourished.“Isn’t her size indicative of my good mothering?” she seemed to wonder.

We recommended that Jovia needed to go for a medical check-up, advised that Jennifer breastfeed on demand and start feeding Jovia a variety of cooked and mashed locally available foods. Dan returned shortly after and they transplanted vegetable seedlings He focused intensely on nutrition, our “Meals” training.

But it was too late for Jovia. Jovia got malaria and died of anemia, iron deficiency.

The Bible says that “TheLife of the Flesh Is In the Blood” (Leviticus 17:13) and it’s true. Without iron, your red blood cells can’t deliver oxygen to your body and your cells literally suffocate.That is what happened to Jovia.

FARM STEW is designed to address the heart breaking fact that in sub-Saharan Africa, 5children under the age of 5 die every minute. Most are nameless and their deaths will never touch our lives.But Jovia, is different. We know her story and her name.

That is why we’re dedicating our E-LearningFARM STEW Basic Course to her memory.

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Joy Kauffman, MPH
Joy is the passionate founder of FARM STEW.