Do you ever stand in your kitchen look around and think what on earth am I going to cook us all for dinner tonight?
With all the best menu planning intentions this happens often in our house. I browse through my fridge/freezer/kitchen cupboards looking at the various food items, be they tinned, fresh or frozen and sigh… ‘There’s nothing for dinner’.
This week I was invited to join Oxfam in their new bloggers against poverty project. As I read through some of the information I was sent, with half a mind on what meal I was going to pull together for us all that evening, I was handed a reality check.
What if I really had nothing for us all to eat? What if our cupboards where actually bare? What if I couldn’t get my children a drink of water?
Did you know that the country of Niger is prone to chronically high levels of food insecurity, and crisis levels of malnutrition are the norm.
Did you know that malnutrition is aggravated by a lack of clean water? The water collected for everyday use is often a source of water-borne disease such as dysentery, cholera and malaria.
Salama (38) and Hama, her baby boy (9 months)
I started thinking about Matthew & Emma and how blessed we are to be able to provide so much for them. Not just food but safe water to drink and a clean environment to live in. Both of my babies were brought into this world in a warm and sanitary hospital room where we were all well looked after by midwives and I was able to shower within hours of giving birth. I am sure like many of you, it never occurred to me for it to be any other way, yet it was still such a worrying time.
I simply cannot imagine having a baby without the certain knowledge of even clean water much less a sanitary environment and access to trained medical staff. I cannot fathom the anxiety that must bring.
In our house, Matthews insatiable appetite is a source of amusement. My little boy could already, at 11 months old, eat me out of house and home if I let him. I am blessed enough that his meal times end because I know he has eaten more than enough, it is not a matter of running out of food.
I simply cannot imagine literally not being able to feed my children. To have my babies crying and distraught from hunger that I can do little to nothing about. I cannot imagine the desperation, the guilt, the fear, the overwhelmingness of the situation. I am so sad that so many mothers in the world do have to live this way.
Then I read about Salama and her little boy Hama. Salama gave birth to her son without difficulties, but shortly after his birth she didn’t have enough nutrition to give to him.
Salama’s Story, in her Words
“Hama suffered from a fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. He would have brief periods of health and then get sick again, so I brought him into the clinic.
“He was given paracetamol and rehydration, but 6 months later he was diagnosed with malnutrition. He received treatment and responded well. He’s ok at the moment, is still sick occasionally.
“The availability of the clinic is a great thing for us. Before, we had to get to Agadez town. It was impossibly expensive to travel, then accommodation and food. But now this service is here, it’s much more doable.”
“We are completely delighted to get the water system in our health centre – before it was here we had to go to the neighbouring village to fetch water for going to the treatment centre. It was difficult for the nurse to really look after us. Now, they can wash our babies when they have diarrhea. There’s a laundry system and everything is sanitary.”
“We are really proud of Oxfam because Oxfam helped us women a lot to support our children. We’re really grateful to Oxfam because we’re now really well informed about health issues.” “My great hope is that my baby recovers, grows, studies, and gets a decent job.”
Oxfam are fighting malnutrition by installing water and sanitation facilities in clinics and communities. They are promoting good nutrition and hygiene, helping women to take the best possible care of their babies. Last year, Oxfam helped 11.8 million people, but they can’t do all of this alone.
Sometimes I think it is easy for us to feel a million miles away from problems like those of Salama. Surely we are too far away, too insignificant to make a difference to such awful poverty. But actually we can help, whether it is as little as donating outgrown clothes to the Oxfam shop in town or donating money each month, every action is at least that. It is an act against poverty.
If you would like to donate to Oxfam now you can do so here.