Felista (joined the GROW Leadership Academy in December 2013 after staying at home for two years since she was unable to join college after secondary school. Timid at first and unsure about what to do, Felista slowly gained confidence.
During the GROW programme, the students are introduced to the concept of a Social enterprise and are challenged to come up with one. But this starts with identifying a community tension. For Felista, poor nutrition ranked high. So she set out to come up with a nutritious product using locally available but less utilized foods. After some consultations with experts in the field, Felista came up with a formula, and first tried it with friends to see how they respond to her product. One of these friends is HIV positive and has been using ARV’s for three years.
Another person was a child whose mother and step father had rejected her due to poor health and taken her to the grandmother, possibly to await death. This child’s situation was so dire that she could hardly eat anything. When Felista met her for the first time, she thought probably her nutritional product would help, so she convinced the grandmother, and she offered the product for free.
After two months of using the nutritional product, Felista’s friend felt different, much stronger and healthier. So she decided to go to hospital for the usual check-up. When her CD4 count was examined, the doctor was surprised! He told her the CD4 count was far higher than the threshold, so there was no need to continue with ARVs. This was the first time to get such news in three years. The doctor asked what had changed in her diet, and the suspect? Felista’s product!!
Meanwhile, the young child has also fully recovered from her condition, accepted again by the step -father and the mother has christened her “Felista’s daughter!”.
Many people are picking interest in the product, one of them a doctor running an NGO for vulnerable children. He has also found the product amazing and is now a permanent customer.
Another big customer in the pipeline is Compassion International, who has expressed interest in trying out the product in their children projects.
Preparations for more trials locally are underway.
(News from RLabs Iringa, Tanzania)