U.S. Fund for UNICEF National Board Member Dikembe Mutombo joined Eric Bledsoe of the Phoenix Suns and Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, on a field visit to Maputo, Mozambique last week to see UNICEF’s lifesaving work in action.

Dikembe Mutumbo greets mothers and babies at a severe acute malnutrition center in Maputo, Mozambique
Dikembe Mutumbo greets mothers and babies at a severe acute malnutrition center in Maputo, Mozambique

Visiting a local hospital and UNICEF-supported malnutrition center, they met with mothers and children being screened for malnutrition, and spoke with staff.

UNICEF Kid Power, which helps kids get active, save lives and be part of the solution to end global malnutrition, has supported UNICEF in treating thousands of local children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. 16 million children globally suffer from severe acute malnutrition – the most life-threatening form – which requires specialized feeding care with therapeutic food packets. The therapeutic food packets unlocked by UNICEF Kid Power contain a specially designed protein and vitamin-rich peanut paste, which allows children who are severely malnourished to be treated in their communities, and can transform the lives of millions of malnourished children around the world, just like the kids Eric and Dikembe met with. Primarily due to a lack of funding, UNICEF, along with partners, was only able to reach 19 percent of the children suffering from severe acute malnutrition with lifesaving therapeutic food in 2014. UNICEF Kid Power’s immediate focus is to eliminate the funding gap preventing the delivery of therapeutic food packets to every child who needs it.

Dikembe Mutumbo goes for a basket while playing with local players at a school in Maputo, Mozambique.
Dikembe Mutumbo goes for a basket while playing with local players at a school in Maputo, Mozambique.

How UNICEF Kid Power works: UNICEF Kid Power gives kids the power to save lives. By getting active with the UNICEF Kid Power Band – the world’s first Wearable-for-Good, kids go on missions to learn about new cultures and earn points. Points unlock funding from partners and funds are used by UNICEF to deliver lifesaving packets of therapeutic food to severely malnourished children around the world. The more kids move, the more points they earn and the more lives they save.

Dikembe and Eric also met with the basketball team from a local school, and played a quick game with them – providing a great opportunity to connect directly with local kids.

UNICEF has supported Mozambique for almost four decades, throughout significant challenges including war, post-conflict recovery and peace-building, poverty, recurrent natural disasters and the surge of HIV and AIDS. UNICEF programs in Mozambique focus on child health and nutrition, education, HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, and child protection.

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