There is a silent emergency happening now in the Sahel region of Africa, where one million children are at risk of starvation! I am the first one to admit that world hunger can be completely overwhelming, especially in times of crisis like this one. It is something that is hard to wrap your head around when you grow up in a country with big supermarkets and fast food chains. Food seems abundant and accessible. In 2003, 'world hunger' was something I was only hypothetically aware of, in a surreal and vaguely upsetting sort of way.
Over the past nine years, I have had the unique and life-changing opportunity to travel with the UN World Food Programme and UNICEF to visit countries that are affected by poverty and hunger, such as Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Lesotho, Kenya and Chad to list a few. Poverty and hunger persist in countries and regions for a variety of reasons social, political and sometimes geographical, but it is a guarantee that where there is poverty there will be hungry people who struggle everyday to feed themselves and their families.
Hunger is often called in the humanitarian aid world a 'silent killer.' Hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and TB combined. It goes without saying that food and water are the most essential things needed to sustain life. When a person does not have access to these very basic human needs, they become desperate, angry, and they can easily lose hope and dignity.
I have seen the despair of hunger most pronounced during a trip I took to Chad in 2005. Chad is a landlocked country in what is called the 'Sahel' region of Africa. During my trip, I visited rural towns and sat with women in the heat of the day as they toiled in the fields with babies strapped to their backs. The land they were trying to plow by hand was like sand and could grow very little. These women were the toughest women I will ever meet. I saw groups of kids roaming aimlessly around their village, who all raised their hand when asked if they wanted to attend school, yet very few actually could because their parents did not have the means to provide for an education. And I visited Sudanese refugee camps where Chadian locals were posing as refugees just to get access to the meager aid and support that comes with living in a camp. Needless to say, it was an eye-opening trip for me, and one that left me searching for answers as well as wanting so badly to support the organizations working on the ground to provide essential aid to those who so clearly needed it.
Now, recently, I have learned that a severe drought has hit Chad and the whole Sahel region. Already one of the poorest regions of the world, individuals are now facing the threat of severe acute malnutrition, which is just a fancy way of saying 'starvation.' One million children will starve if we, as a global community, do not act now! News outlets are not covering this story and no one is talking about this far-away region that so desperately needs our help. It is in times of crisis like this, that we are called to be empathetic and generous and care for those we may never meet simply because it is the right thing to do. Let's help give voices to the voiceless and food to the hungry. Only $100 can save a child's life. Please help make this 'silent emergency' into a 'loud emergency' by watching this short silent film, spreading the word, and taking action!
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