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Blankets: How a simple gift can change lives

World Vision
8 July 2016 by Agatha Mali
Blankets: How a simple gift can change lives

Grace tucking Emmanuel into bed with his warm, hand-knitted blanket. Photo by Agatha Mali, World Vision

Meet 2-year-old Emmanuel. Emmanuel and his mother Grace Nyirenda live in a small isolated village in the Eastern part of Zambia. Their village is part of a World Vision Area Development Program. Due to the isolation of the village, the Nyirenda family have often lacked access to good quality blankets. As a result of often having to sleep in a cold environment, 2-year-old Emmanuel’s health was very unstable. This contributed to him having a continuous cough and cold. His mother Grace was often worried about her son’s health, knowing that her son would again start coughing and sneezing uncontrollably because the nights were too cold for him.

However, World Vision’s donation of Wrap with Love blankets, has had a significant impact on the Nyirenda family. Grace is extremely thankful that she was one of the women who received some blankets for her son Emmanuel and her granddaughter Angelina.
“Before we received the Wrap with Love blankets, I did not have enough blankets to keep the children warm throughout the night, every night I would go to sleep with a lot of worries because I did not know how my children would survive from the cold nights,” says Grace.
“I used to cover the children with a very light wrap, which did not provide enough warmth for the children and this contributed to Emmanuel’s continuous coughs,” continued Grace.

Since receiving the hand-knitted blankets, Grace says she no longer worries because she knows that her son is warm and safe. “I feel very happy and blessed that we received these blankets because ever since I started using them to cover Emmanuel, I have never heard him cough or sneeze because the blankets he received have been keeping him warm,” says Grace.
In Kabvuma Village, farming is a way of life for most families and is the biggest source of income for the Grace and Emmanuel’s family. Before receiving the Wrap with Love blankets, Grace and her husband had been saving money to buy blankets for the family. Unfortunately they weren’t able to save enough money to afford a blanket for all their children. Receiving the Wrap with Love Blankets meant that the family were able to spend the money they saved on other much needed food for the family, whilst also receiving the blankets they needed.
“While we were still struggling with what to buy, the blankets came at a right time because my husband and I were confused about whether to buy food or blankets first because the money we had was not enough to buy both at the same,” explains Grace. “While we were still trying to budget on how we were going to use the little money we received two blankets from World Vision and this helped to reduce the burden we had.”

Grace is now able to spend her small income on groceries to feed her growing family. They are also able to now pay for the children’s school fees.
Grace is very grateful to World Vision and Wrap with Love for the kindness they have shown her and her children, “I will never forget what Wrap with Love have done for me and the love they have shown me; I promise to also share the little I have with other people who do not have.”

Let’s meet Aaron Zimba. Aaron is the clinic officer in charge of the Ndeke Rural Health Centre, also in Eastern Zambia. According to Aaron, the Wrap with Love Blankets have had an immensely positive effect on the community, as they have acted as an incentive for women to give birth in health centres rather than at home.

“In the past, expectant mothers used to think that it was safer for them to deliver from home instead of the clinic and it was very difficult to convince them on the importance of coming to the clinic,” explains Aaron. “They also did not care to bring their children for immunisations because they thought we would just make their children sick.”
Aaron says the blankets have helped motivate community members to seek regular medical check-ups and immunisation. This has in turn transformed the community’s mindset, and cemented the importance of receiving trained medical care.
“I have seen a very big difference in terms of attendance of the weekly child health weeks. The number of expectant mothers booking to deliver from the health centre has also increased because they now know that when they seek for health services they receive an incentive which is a blanket,” says Aaron.

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Ndeke Rural health used to record at least six cases of children affected with Pneumonia per month, but Aaron says that since the Wrap with Love blankets were introduced the cases have significantly reduced because the children are now kept warm and safe.
“Unlike in the past few months, we no longer record high cases of Pneumonia because these blankets are very warm and have helped by preventing a lot of babies from getting pneumonia,” Aaron recalls

He adds, “They have also being helped in terms of saving money because instead of buying blankets, they have been using that money to buy other things like napkins and other baby clothes.”
Aaron would like to emphasise that “On behalf of the whole health centre and the community I am very thankful to the people who sat down and took their time to knit these beautiful blankets to help the child and the entire community in our areas. The blankets have brought so much impact in the community and we will forever be grateful”.

Agatha Mali

Agatha Mali is a Communications Assistant for World Vision Zambia.

 

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