By Heidi Reed
Whenever I see the red and white cardboard boxes of Plumpy’Nut in our factory’s warehouse, I do our best to imagine where they are going and all of the little lives that will be forever changed because of what’s inside. We often tell visitors to our factory that one $55 box equals the life of one child. It’s a beautiful equation, to save a life with that small amount of money, but admittedly, it’s a little abstract.
Just before Thanksgiving in 2013, I had the chance to see the realities of Edesia’s work in Burkina Faso. It’s a poor, landlocked country in French-speaking West Africa. It’s also where childhood malnutrition rates are alarmingly high.
In Burkina Faso, I visited a UNICEF-supported health clinic on the outskirts of town. I had the rare chance to see a group of mothers feeding their children Plumpy’Nut, which by coincidence was made by Edesia. I felt awe. When I asked the mothers what they thought of Plumpy’Nut, they said their children loved it and that it had made them happy and much healthier.
I learned that many of these mothers had walked for miles on foot, most of them in flip-flops, to reach the clinic with their baby or twins slung on their backs. That’s when we felt how Plumpy’Nut is much more than the sum of its parts that I see every day at the factory: It’s an extension of mother’s nurturing spirit and her fierce determination to do anything to save the life of her child. The equation of $55 saving a life remains beautiful, and now much more meaningful.