Save The Children
has launched the #Lunchless campaign this month to help raise awareness of the severe growing hunger crisis in East Africa. The world needs to act now to save the nearly 20 million lives that are at risk in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda where children are suffering from extreme hunger. Families in this region are in urgent need of food and safe drinking water, and many severely malnourished children are in need of immediate treatment.
A combination of drought, man-made conflicts, and refugees flooding into already fragile surrounding countries have exacerbated shortages, creating the perfect storm for a humanitarian crisis of this scale.
According to the UN this is the worst hunger crisis that the world has faced in decades, with areas of South Sudan experiencing famine and other areas of East Africa currently on the brink. The UN defines a region where over 30% of the children under the age of five are suffering from acute malnutrition as experiencing famine. Malnutrition is the greatest underlying cause of death in children under the age of five around the globe, yet it is an entirely treatable condition. With proper treatment a child on the brink of starvation can be brought back to health in less than two months.
Recently the CEO of Save the Children, Carolyn Miles, traveled to Somalia with David Muir to report on the hunger crisis
. The report that aired on ABC News last week served as a wake-up call to many on the severity of the situation. I attended the Moms+Social Good event in New York City last week in where Carolyn spoke about the experience of seeing so many children suffering first hand. She recounted part of the interview caught on film with David Muir and Dr. Yousif Ali
at a feeding center in Somalia where Dr. Ali states that the children who were at the clinic, even the ones in critical condition, were the lucky ones. Many others had perished on their way to get help.
In the year 2017 no mother should have to watch her child die because of lack of food and water.
What if each of us gave up our lunch for one day? Save the Children is asking us to go #Lunchless to experience what it might feel like to go without by missing a meal. If for one day this week each of us went #Lunchless and donated our lunch money to Save the Children instead, we could save lives. Each #lunchless donation to East Africa Child Hunger Crisis & Famine Relief Fund is being matched by two separate anonymous donors up to $150,000 further amplifying each gift.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP:
1. Skip lunch and post a photo of yourself/your group going #Lunchless.
2. Through May 31st you can donate your lunch money by texting LUNCHLESS to 20222 to donate $10* (or donate any other amount here: http://ow.ly/lJUB30bdXAQ ).
3. Challenge your friends, colleagues and peers to join you by going #Lunchless by tagging them in your social media post.
Photo Credits: Save the Children
(Photo: European Commission DG ECHO/Flickr/Creative Commons)
The World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa officially over this past week. The Ebola epidemic that swept through Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and into Nigeria last year highlighted the importance of rapid response, and strong health infrastructure. Credited for halting the spread of the virus more widely in Nigeria was the Polio tracking system and stations already put in place by GAVI (Global Vaccine Alliance). Unlike the surrounding countries, Nigeria was able to use that already existing health care network and alert system to quickly track down possible exposures. Also highlighted by the outbreak was the importance of nutrition in preventing disease to begin with. Well-nourished children have much stronger immune systems than malnourished children, and are more resilient to bounce back when they do get sick. Sustainable Development Goal number two is zero hunger, a global priority since WHO estimates that malnutrition is the underlying cause in half of child deaths world wide.
I knew that malnutrition made immune systems vulnerable, but working with a local non-profit specializing in the treatment and prevention of child malnutrition on a global level has given me new insight into just how critical proper nutrition is for the individual, and the world as a whole. You might be surprised to learn that the second largest producer in the world of a nutritionally fortified peanut paste used to treat malnutrition called Plumpy’Nut is located in the smallest state in the USA. Edesia is a non-profit that partners with organizations on the ground such as World Food Program, UNICEF and USAID to offer treatment and malnutrition prevention solutions to those who need it most. Countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia had been receiving shipments of Edesia’s products long before the Ebola outbreak, where malnutrition was already an issue for many children before the virus hit. In the countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone the compounded crisis of child malnutrition was both a contributing factor, and then a cruel aftereffect of the Ebola epidemic.
Rhode Island infectious disease specialist Dr. Tim Flanigan, who traveled to Liberia in August of 2014 stated that
“More people were dying from malnutrition and other medical illnesses than from Ebola.” even at the height of the outbreak. “ So many infectious diseases are intertwined with malnutrition to begin with.”
The communities impacted the hardest were already fragile when the virus hit.
Dr. Flanigan explained, that the countries impacted by Ebola were some of the poorest countries on the continent. After years of civil wars, the destruction of the infrastructure had already made it a challenge for people to get enough to eat. Hunger, malnutrition, and starvation were already common realities in these vulnerable populations. All efforts and resources available then went to tackle Ebola when it hit, leaving any of the already challenged social services in place, like school meals or vaccine clinics, to flounder. When 20-day quarantines of people in homes with no running water, or electricity, (meaning no refrigeration for food), were instituted in some households, malnutrition rates were bound to soar.
Children are often the most vulnerable population in crisis scenarios, they are at much higher risk of disease when malnourished, even if they escape succumbing to any number of viral threats malnutrition puts them at risk of never growing to their full potential. The products produced in Rhode Island at Edesia, such as Plumpy’Nut and Plumpy’Sup, can literally save the lives of these children. In just 6 weeks on average a child suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition, or SAM, can get back to their full healthy weight when treated with Plumpy’Nut. Last year Edesia reached nearly a million children. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimate is that nearly 795 million people (out of the 7.3 billion world population), so 1 in 9 people, suffered from malnutrition during 2014-2016. The goal at Edesia is to reach as many children as possible to help them thrive, and that means being prepared to react when the need arises. One of the essential building blocks to good health is proper nutrition, and a healthy community is a more resilient community. We saw how effective it was in the case of Nigeria and the Polio network to have systems in place when disaster strikes. The investment in global nutrition not only can help to prevent future outbreaks of disease, but ensure that all children have the opportunity to grow into healthy, productive adults.
What are some of the other lessons that this outbreak Highlighted?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Elizabeth Atalay who also writes at documama and is the Digital and Social Media Specialist at Edesia.
October 16 was World Food Day and it got me thinking about food issues in Laos, the country where my non-profit, CleanBirth.org works.
Laos’ rate of stunting — low height for age as a result of chronic malnutrition — is staggering. A full 44 % of the population has stunted growth. In the remote areas where I work, stunting affects 54 % of children under 5, one of the highest rates in the country.
What are the causes of stunting?
The WHO sites multiple causes:
- Maternal factors. Mom’s diet before, during and after pregnancy, while breastfeeding is very important to a child’s future growth.
- Food insecurity. 80% of the Lao population lives in rural areas where the wet season brings rain-destroying crops. Pests are another big contributor to food shortages.
- Poor Hygiene. For example, according to UNICEF, “four out of five households do not dispose of children’s feces correctly and hygienically, an indication of poor health awareness.” Food and water are often consumed in a contaminated state.
- Non-exclusive breastfeeding. A study by Kaufmann et al found that pre-chewed rice was given to 20-48% of Lao infants in the first week of life. Another study shows a link between this rice supplementation and stunting.
- Poor quality foods, inadequate quantity, infrequent feeding. Nutrition experts find that over-reliance on rice and inadequate animal protein are to blame for much of the stunting.
What are the consequences of stunting?
- Problems with cognitive motor and language development.
- Difficulty in school and lower employment productivity/achievement.
- Lower adult statue, other health issues.
The Way Forward.
- Nutrition education is critical. “Even small changes in food preparation, such as adding salt at the end of the cooking process to increase iodine intake, can help,” said Aachal Chand of the World Food Programme.
- Government Action. The Lao government has a plan of action and participates in the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) program, focused on sanitation, development and women’s education to improve nutrition.
With such a focus on the food issues we face in the developed world, its important to take a look at the situation at the other end of the food spectrum.
What food issues are most pressing in your country?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog By Kristyn Zalota, founder CleanBirth.org.
Photo Credit: Kristyn Zalota
One could barely think straight after five days she was so hungry. Another who is pregnant, was sapped of all energy after only one day. Me, I caused a stink at the grocery store checkout over 65 cents, …..yes, we were impacted. I don’t think any of us will think of extreme poverty in the same way ever again.
Live Below The Line is a campaign created to change the way that people think about extreme poverty. The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on under $1.25 per day, something that 1.2 billion people in the world currently survive on. These are the poorest of poor, and to truly understand what it means to live that way, you need to experience it. Five World Moms took on the challenge, and in each of our own words here is what we found:
Hannah Ashton – USA
I’m six months pregnant, which is hard enough in itself, particularly when my day is spent running round after my toddler, Maggie, and I hadn’t been sleeping very well, for just one day, I thought I would give the challenge a go. I could, of course, always stop, unlike the many pregnant women around the world, who sadly don’t have that option.
The day started well enough with oatmeal made with water, 2/3rds of a banana and a mug of green tea. I used the tea bag to make 3 more mugs of tea which were like green water by the third and fourth cup. This filled me up until lunchtime which was a kidney bean and carrot burger, using the recipe from “a girl called jack blog”, 1 oz. rice and two flatbreads. Immediately after eating lunch I was still hungry. It was a small amount of food and there was no more food until dinner. I generally eat dinner with my husband when he gets home from work at 8pm. Instead I was too hungry so I ate at 5:30 with Maggie when she ate her dinner. My dinner was a kidney bean, carrot, onion and tomato stew with 2 oz rice. Even though I had soaked the kidney beans overnight, boiled them for 20 minutes and let them simmer in the stew for an hour, they were still very hard, but I ate it all anyway.
Later, as my husband cooked himself a delicious looking steak sandwich, a radish salad and drank a glass of red wine, I cooked up my two remaining flatbreads and made a fresh mug of green tea. “It’s like we’re living in two different worlds tonight,” he commented.
At 3 am I woke up with a splitting headache and was extremely hungry. I came downstairs, took two Tylenol and had a large piece of the blueberry pie that was left over from the weekend. The next day, it is fair to say I really struggled even though the challenge was over. The LBTL diet of the day before had really affected me. I rang my husband at work in tears asking him to please come home from work earlier to help with Maggie’s bedtime routine as I didn’t have the energy to do it by myself (I have a nightly battle with teeth brushing but usually take it in my stride). I had to cancel a play date with a friend and I went to bed at 8:30. It was only by Wednesday, that I felt back to normal.
I’ve not known what it’s like to be really hungry before; I’ve never dieted or not had enough money for food. I can’t say if I was affected by this challenge more than others because I’m pregnant. In a few years, I plan to revisit the challenge and complete the five days. What I can say is the experience has profoundly affected me. No one should have to function on such little calories and the thought of a child having to go through this, especially, is completely heart breaking.
||Total cost ($)
||Per day ($)
|1 lb. dried kidney beans
|1 lb. white rice*
|24 oz. tomato sauce with basil and garlic
|5 instant apple and cinnamon oatmeal*
|1 lb. carrots
|1 lb. flour*
|1 lb. bananas
|10 green tea bags*
|0.5 lb. onions
*items bought with a friend so we could split the cost.
Deborah Quinn- Abu Dhabi
When I agreed to try living below the line for a day, I mostly had in mind trying to teach my kids about their relative privilege—that their status as “picky eaters” was in fact the ultimate luxury, given that a person only refuses one kind of food if he knows that another sort of food is available. In Abu Dhabi, where I live, $1.50 converts to about 5 dirhams, or about the cost of a large loaf of bread. I had decided that I would make a sort of vegetable, and as I selected one onion from India, one potato still crusted with dirt from Lebanon, two small carrots grown here in the UAE, I wondered whether the people who picked the vegetables were themselves living below the line in those countries.
My “soup” consisted of a chopped carrot, onion, and potato simmered in water with a bullion cube for flavor. I confess that I used my immersion blender to puree the vegetables when they were soft, so that the soup felt a bit thicker and more filling. I used another onion and some dried staples—lentils and rice—to make mejadra, a dish from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. Families all over this region have their own mejadra recipe, each with slightly different proportions of spices, but the dish is quintessential feed-a-lot-of-people-on-not-much: fried onions stirred into lentils and rice. With my soup and my lentils and rice, I wasn’t hungry, but I wasn’t terribly satisfied, either: I wanted sugar, I wanted coffee, I wanted fresh green lettuce and ripe tomatoes.
I thought about the migrant workers in Abu Dhabi, who come from desperately poor towns in places like Goa, Kerala, Islamabad, or Peshawar, who work here for a pittance but are nevertheless making more money than they would at home. What are they filling their bellies with, in order to face another day of work in Abu Dhabi’s broiling sunshine? And given the world’s insistence—and reliance—on global capitalism, with its relentless emphasis on bottom line profits, how will we ever bring about permanent change, so that boullion soup is something you eat only when you have an upset tummy and not because it’s all you can afford?
Alison Fraser- Canada
My first attempt at living below the poverty line was much more challenging than I had anticipated. I had visions of making creative dishes to spread the $1.50 as thin as possible. It didn’t work. The bottom line is that $1.50 doesn’t get you much in terms of food in Canada. My meals consisted of small spooned amounts of peanut butter just to keep me going. I tried to drink lots of water to conquer the hunger, but that didn’t help much either. Fruit and vegetables were much too expensive to include in my meal plan, as winter in Canada results in costly produce.
In the end, my mind kept drifting back to my time in Tanzania where I met women who lived below the poverty line every single day. Some of these women were sick, and were forced to choose between their life and the needs of their children, as many HIV medications can only be taken with food. I can’t even imagine having to make that choice. So unfair.
This was an incredibly emotional experience and next year, I am determined to do it for more than just one day.
Elizabeth Atalay- USA
I could feel the color rising in my cheeks as the cashier called over the store manager. I had $7.50 to spend for my five day Live Below The Line food budget, and the misleading sale sign had just caused my order to ring up 65 cents over my carefully calculated bill. I could see them exchanging exasperated looks as I explained that the (crappy) instant coffee I had purchased was advertised for less than it rang up. The hunger pangs I felt later in the day were not what stuck with me from this challenge, those took place in the privacy of my home. It was the sting of humiliation as the line of people behind me built up while I caused a scene over 65 cents at the grocery store. I was mortified, and imagined having to swallow my pride like this on a regular basis. I can describe the tightening in my chest, the flush of my cheeks, and acid rising in my throat better than I can explain the emotion that moment made me feel…powerless, small, ashamed? The manager explained that the sale was only for purchases of $25 or more. They said they would give it to me anyways since I had told them, without going into detail, that I only had $7.50 to spend, and it was false advertising. As much as I wanted to save face, I certainly wasn’t going to take the time to try to explain that I was doing it as part of the Live Below The Line campaign then, with the impatient crowd waiting for their turn. I plan to take the full 5 day challenge when it officially runs between April 28- May 2nd. After doing it for just one day I can see how impactful it is in deepening empathy, and understanding on the issue of hunger, and what it means to live in poverty.
What $7.50 bought after sales, coupons, and making a scene.
Jennifer Burden- USA
They (LBL) got me. Big time. I’ve read about poverty, tweeted about it, gone to the far reaches of Uganda with the Shot@Life campaign, where I met children who are fed their one and only meal a day at school. I’ve also donated to local food banks, here, in NJ, USA. I felt like I knew how important it is that there are people near and far who go hungry and that 1.2 billion people on the planet live below the poverty line, and that I was doing enough. So, like a “know-it-all teenager” I naively went into this challenge thinking that I wouldn’t really learn much. Boy, was I wrong. Really wrong.
Originally, I signed up for a day of the Live Below the Line Challenge, and then, by Day 2, I had committed myself to the full challenge
— 5 days. I thought I’d be celebrating on Day 5 that I had gotten that far, but there was a whole transformation. Check out my video from Day 5:
Every global health advocate, college student, mom, dad, teen, blogger, journalist, CEO, teacher, living human who is living above the poverty level, etc., should consider experiencing the challenge. The impact on eliminating world poverty would be profound if even more people were involved. It would be incredible. The challenge was a REAL eye-opener and new motivator for me. You’ve gotta do this!!!!!
Visit our World Moms Blog Team Live Below The Line Page to benefit UNICEF, where you can donate to help those less fortunate, or see the impact we’ve already made in the challenge.
The Live Below The Line Challenge will run from April 28th to May 2nd and you can sign up here
as an individual or team. Will you take the challenge?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Elizabeth Atalay, Jennifer Burden, Hannah Ashton, Deborah Quinn, and Alison Fraser.
“The world has stood and watched as the children of Syria have been shot, shelled and traumatized by the horror of war. The conflict has already left thousands of children dead, and is now threatening their means of staying alive.
We understand there is a political debate over what to do next in Syria, but we believe everyone can agree on the critical need for safe humanitarian access across the entire country. There is no room for delay or argument: Syria’s children must not be allowed to go hungry.”
-Roger Hearn, Save the Children’s regional director for the Middle East.
Save the Children distributes bread to residents of Za’atari refugee camp. Photo credit: Nicole Itano/Save the Children
A couple weeks ago World Mom’s Bloggers Jennifer Burden, Elizabeth Atalay, Nicole Morgan and myself attended an intimate panel hosted by Save the Children, ONE and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation during the 2013 Social Good Summit in New York City. It was a rare opportunity to hear some of the top social advocates and leaders speak about some of the pressing developments in social good involving eliminating extreme poverty, using technology for activism, and the current crisis in Syria.
One of the most touching conversations at the roundtable that day was listening to the President and CEO of Save the Children Carolyn Miles discuss the growing crisis in Syria and its tragic impact on its children. A week after returning from New York, I am still reflecting hard on these children and wondering how on earth I can help spread the word and raise awareness of their plight.
Rami*, two, at her home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. *All names have been changed to protect identities. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children
The war in Syria is one of the largest humanitarian crisis of our time and sadly Syria’s most vulnerable citizens, its children, are paying the price.
On September 23rd, coinciding with the gathering of global leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York for UN Week, Save the Children released a startling report titled “Hunger in a War Zone: The Growing Crisis Behind the Syria Conflict“. I read the report and could not put it down. The images of Syria’s children still haunt me and I had to do something to spread the word about what is going on and how we can help.
Here is a summary of the key findings of the report. All information below as well as images being used with permission from Save the Children. To read the report in full, click here.
Zeina *, two, at her home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. Zeina and her family are living in a small tent on the Syrian border. The father, Ahmad, has been part of Save the Children as Cash for Work programme, and used the money on food and water for the whole family. Thousands of children and their families continue to stream into neighbouring countries. Most of those who have escaped are living in makeshift shelters, unsuitable buildings or in overcrowded camps, amid growing shortages of food, medicine and water. * Names have been changed to protect identities. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children
Pictures tell a story. They show the world the people who are really suffering in Syria. Its most innocent and vulnerable: Their children.
This is the photo that struck a chord in my heart. She could be my own daughter. Same age. Same love for stuffed animals. But no smile to greet the day.
Refugee child in Iraq. Most of the refugees did not manage to bring any belongings with them when they fled Syria. Some children managed to save their favourite teddy bear or doll. Others have received new toys after moving to the camp. Photo Credit: Rob Holden/Save the Children
It is hard to look at these photographs and not feel some inherent urge to jump on a plane and save them. As a mother of two children, ages 6 and 8, I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like for these parents and their children.
In mid-September, it was estimated that there are over 4 million displaced families living inside of Syria’s borders in temporary housing with little access to food to feed their children and barely a drip of water. Another two million have fled the country pouring into neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt at a rate of nearly 6,000 day*.
Some families are living in abandoned industrial buildings while others in makeshift refuge camps. The World Health Organization has deemed the crisis in Syria “to be one of the worst ongoing humanitarian crisis on earth”. As the sun begins to turn cold and food becomes more and more scarce, what will these families feed their growing, hungry children?
Zeina *, two, at her home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. *Names have been changed to protect identities. Photo credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children
Per Save the Children, “More than four million Syrians — more than two million of them children — are unable to produce or buy enough food, with many thousands living under fire and with no access to all but the bare minimum foodstuffs needed to survive. Save the Children is already seeing reports that one in 20 children in rural Damascus is severely malnourished”.**
One of the biggest issues right now is the fact that most of Syria’s families are trapped in dangerous locations where they have little or no access to food. They are faced with making the unimaginable decision. To stay inside their homes and starve or to face bullets and death by leaving the safety of their homes to get food for their family. It is a choice no parent should have to make.
“A message to the World”
“This is a message from the Syrian people to world leaders. I am 13 years old and I am Syrian. I am Ali. I want to talk about the tragedy that we have in Syria. In Syria, we have no good food and not enough water. We only have lentils. So we ate lentils every day. We would see wounded people and dead bodies every day in the street, and many children who did not have homes. They are living in schools. But now they don’t even have a school to live in. I am asking the leaders of the world to provide us safe shelter, food, water, medicine – this is all we ask. Please, please, please – help us”.
-Ali, 13 years old***
Maya * 11 months, at her home in a disused industrial building in Lebanon near the Syrian border *All names have been changed to protect identities. Photo credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children
Another issue is that the war has destroyed Syria’s economy pulling a once relatively prosperous country into shambles. The United Nations “now estimates close to seven million inhabitants have been plunged into poverty since fighting began. In addition, Syria’s agriculture and infrastructure are collapsing, with grain production falling to less than half of what was typical before the war”**. Furthermore, “after two and a half years of war, the conflict has set Syria back 35 years and imposted an economic cost of more than $84 billion, equivalent to over 140 % of Syria’s pre-war GDP”. *** Once the war ends, rebuilding is going to be a long and painful journey.
Nadia *, one and a half, is carried by her mother Roula * outside their home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. *Names have been changed to protect identities. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children
What Save the Children is asking world leaders is to secure humanitarian access to the people per Save the Children’s Carolyn Miles. There are 7 million people in need of assistance and 5 million people stuck inside the country. Save the Children strongly believes that regardless of the political situation in Syria, we must do something about this enormous humanitarian crisis. We must act and we must act now. Time is running out for the millions of children and families who are suffering and facing extreme hunger and malnutrition. The world must listen and help.
Here is a link to what needs to be done. (See page 19)
Here is the latest response by global leaders: Press Release 10/02/13 Save the Children “UN Aid Access Agreement Could Save Thousands of Lives in Syria”.
The fight to save Syria’s children is far from over. We need to act now and spread the word. We need to voice our concern.
This is what is at stake: Children.
Suhad * six, lies on the floor of her home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. *Names have been changed to protect children’s identities. Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children
Related Posts and References:
*“Six Million Displaced by War in Syria” via the Atlantic
**Food Shortages Put Syria’s Children at Risk of Malnutrition
***Hunger in a War Zone: The Growing Crisis Behind the Syria Conflict“
Highlights from the 2013 Social Good Summit
To keep in touch with the latest updates on Save the Children’s work in Syria and how you can help, click here.
How can the world sit by and watch these children suffer?
This post was written and modified for World Moms Blog by Nicole Melancon who can also be found at ThirdEyeMom.