Meet 32-year-old Zara Abba.

Zara is from the capital of Chad, N’djamena. She has been at MSF’s intensive care unit in Bokoro for four days, caring for her granddaughter, two-year-old Katalma Moussa.

Zara was visiting Bokoro to pay respects to a family member who recently passed away, when her granddaughter suddenly fell ill.

Katalma has not put on any weight and is extremely weak to the point that it takes all of her energy just to swat flies from her face. Additionally, Zara had to stop taking her outside to play with the other children, due to her lack of energy. “She was always hungry and crying and it was like the milk we were giving her wasn’t enough. I looked after her for seven days at home but after that knew I had to get her to a clinic,” Zara explained. As soon as they arrived to the clinic, MSF doctors examined Katalma and gave her water and an injection. Since then, there has been a noticeable difference in her health, and she began to get her appetite back.

Zara is pleased to take the measures necessary to care for her granddaughter. “I would travel all the way to France for my children’s health,” she says. “so I have no problems staying here until Katalma gets better.” Although conditions are less than favorable, Zara realizes that she must endure these conditions if it means that her granddaughter will survive. She has given birth to 15 children before; seven of the children have passed away, and eight are still living. “Two of them were twins and they died on the same day they were born. The others, I don’t know why, it was God’s choice.”

Unfortunately, occurrences like these are very common in Chad. Women marry extremely young, and become pregnant very soon after giving birth. With high rates of malaria, poor hygiene, and lack of nutritious food, losing children is not unusual.

However through all of this, Zara is still optimistic about her remaining children and her grandchild. “Four of my children are married and the other four still live with me. All of them have gone to school and I hope they can achieve something with their lives. This is my daughter’s first child. She’s still in N’djamena but I’ve been speaking to her every day. She calls to ask about the health of her daughter. I say, ‘your daughter is getting better, and MSF have gone above and beyond to help your daughter. They’ve worked really hard.”
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