By Jacquelyn Wright, President & CEO
Flavia is an eight-year-old little girl who has known adult worries in her short life.
She lives with her parents and three siblings in Uganda. Her father was in a horrible motorcycle accident, which nearly ended his life. Today he is still bed-ridden, unable to work and contribute to his family as he once did.
Even before the accident, Flavia’s family struggled. They had a hard time finding enough money to pay for their children’s school fees and still have enough food to eat. Flavia’s mom, Emily, tried to stretch what little they had, but many days Flavia went to school without a lunch. She was weak from hunger and didn’t do that well in school. Flavia often complained about stomach aches. Emily knows that it was because her little girl was hungry.
The devastating toll of hunger
Hunger is a complex issue. Some of the devastating effects of undernutrition and hunger are compromised immune systems, stunted growth and an increased risk of child mortality – nearly half of all deaths in children under the age of five are attributed to undernutrition.
Flavia faced many of these challenges, simply because she did not have enough food to eat. This is the same reality that many more children face in communities around the world, including in Uganda.
The good news is that in this past year the theme of Flavia’s story changed from hunger to hope.
HUNGER TO HOPE
When Flavia and her mom, Emily, started participating in the community programs generously supported by Canadian Feed The Children’s supporters everything began to change for them.
First, Flavia enrolled in the school feeding program. Every day, she receives a full meal at lunch. Flavia became more engaged in school and her grades are improving. Flavia dreams of becoming a nurse one day so she can care for people, like her father. This will only happen if she is able to attend school and has enough to eat so she can be healthy and continue to learn.
Emily joined a community savings and loans association. The group helped her understand family finances and the value of saving and investing. Emily started up several different income-earning activities to create financial stability for her family. Today Emily manages her businesses and is able to pay the school fees for children and provide food at home.
Emily and Flavia made a small garden at their home that they enjoy working in together. The family does not have a lot of land, but they have enough to grow vegetables to balance their diet. Now they save the money they would spend to buy vegetables.
HOPE for the future
Over the last year, Emily learned how to support her family on her own. This was not something she was prepared for but she is strong and resilient – and she had the help of Canadian Feed The Children supporters who give to the programs that changed her family’s life. This family represents thousands of families who experience these types of challenges daily, and they are an incredible example of the power of a donor’s gift and how it can change lives.
Flavia and her mother now have hope for a brighter future. With support of school feeding programs, farming and livestock programs, and small business loans, children can live a life without hunger and without poverty. But it takes all of us, walking together, to make this happen.