Saving Saber

When I entered the clinic, I saw Saber, the little boy whom I had heard so much about.

At one year of age, he weighed a meagre 3.8 kg (8.4 pounds). As I approached, Saber stared at me with intense eyes, looking up at me from his mother Martha’s lap.

Two weeks earlier, Martha had brought Saber to Medair’s nutrition clinic in Saraya, South Sudan, after a Care Group volunteer urged her to seek treatment for her child. Astrid, Medair’s Nutrition Manager, was overseeing the clinic that day and was stunned to meet such a tiny one-year-old boy. Saber’s eyes could barely crack open, his hair was light and patchy, and his head looked too large for such a frail body. His arms and legs were little more than skin and bones and his joints protruded uncomfortably.

Astrid assessed Saber and grew concerned about his extremely low body temperature. She carried him skin-to-skin, under a blanket, to the Stabilisation Centre (SC) at the Medair Abayok Clinic in Renk. He rested calmly against her chest as the vehicle carried them across the rough roads. At the SC, Saber began receiving in-patient treatment for severe acute malnutrition.


I heard about Saber from my colleagues at the centre. That team was relentless in doing all they could to save his life. When I had the chance to meet Martha and see Saber two weeks later, he was still very thin. His body was so affected by the malnutrition that it is taking time for the treatment to enable him to recover. “Saber was so severely sick when I brought him here,” said Martha. “Now he is (getting) better.”

Here’s the good news: Saber did get better! 

After four weeks, Saber’s weight had increased to 4.9 kg (10.8 pounds). Although still small and underweight, his cheeks had filled out and his knees no longer protruded. He had become strong enough to leave the centre. Saber is now receiving weekly outpatient care at the clinic in Saraya. “Medair has been good!” said Martha. “The children are getting treatment.”

Although it will take time for Saber to fully recover, he is no longer in critical condition. Saber is just one of hundreds of children suffering from severe and moderately acute malnutrition in the Renk region. Thanks to your support, Medair is providing children like Saber with emergency nutrition services, supported by community health workers in Care Groups.

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Medair’s work in South Sudan is made possible with support from European Union, US Agency for International Development, UK aid from the UK Government, South Sudan Humanitarian Fund, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, US Department of State, Slovak Aid, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in partnership with Tear NL, and through the Dutch Relief Alliance Joint Response for South Sudan, and generous private donors.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.