Infant Formula Program: Esnart and Chisomo’s Story

Esnart and Chisomo

Six years ago, a mother safely delivered her baby at Orant’s Kasese Health Center. She named her daughter Rhoda. Three days after her delivery, she fell sick with pneumonia. She returned to Kasese Health Center for care. Orant’s clinicians referred her to a hospital for further treatment. Unfortunately, after two days in the hospital, she passed away. Her daughter Rhoda was only five days old. 

Rhoda’s grandmother, Esnart Zawanje, took over her care. Heartbroken at the loss of her daughter, Esnart changed her granddaughter’s name to Chisomo, meaning grace. 

“I saw it as God’s grace that she was born,” says Esnart. “We could have lost two lives.” 

Esnart worried about raising the child alone. She had lost her husband long ago. Since then, her living depended on subsistence farming. The responsibility of taking care of a baby threatened her food security. And the baby’s, too. 

“Growing up, I witnessed babies who suffered and died from malnutrition,” says Esnart. “I was so worried for Chisomo. I couldn’t afford even a single tin of infant formula.”

Esnart prepared to see a herbalist for a breast cleansing ritual. This ritual would make her body produce milk so she could breastfeed Chisomo. In rural villages in Malawi, these rituals are the solution when a baby’s mother passes. However, they carry risks. 

Before going to the herbalist, Esnart visited Kasese Health Center for guidance. Orant’s nurses advised Esnart not to see the herbalist. They offered an alternative instead.

“I never knew that breastfeeding Chisomo could mean exposing her to diseases like HIV,” says Esnart. “But the nurses opened my eyes.”

Chisomo was the first baby enrolled in Orant’s Infant Formula Program. Kasese Health Center provided her with formula until she turned two. Now Chisomo is six years old and healthy. 

“I am in Standard 1 in school,” Chisomo says. “I am working hard to get the first position and go into Standard 2 next term.”

Orant’s Healthcare Program introduced the Infant Formula Program to keep orphaned babies safe and healthy. Chisomo is just one of the many babies Orant has saved through our donor support. We are blessed to do this work. 


The Orant Journal