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What is famine?



  • April 05, 2018
Kelsey Campbell

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In the heart of Zimbabwe, a family is suffering a slow death.

Their house is quiet. The children who would normally be laughing and playing rambunctiously can barely move their sore, stiff joints.

The family’s skin is dry, cracked, and covered in sores. The mother’s hair — which was once thick and black — has thinned and paled from lack of nutrients in her diet. And the father tills at a barren garden, whispering prayers for rain. Without his crops, his family will starve.

This is famine. And it’s a reality for countless people in countries across the world.

Google “famine” and you’ll find a lot of disheartening statistics. You’ll find images of tiny children with frail limbs and swollen stomachs. You’ll see withered crops and tired people.

But famine isn’t numbers. And it’s not a quick snapshot. It’s a crushing day-to-day experience that too many people feel to the core of their beings. It’s aching limbs, parched throats, blistered skin, and stomachs constricting from emptiness and dread.

But famine isn’t unsolvable. There is a solution, and the solution can start with you.

To discover the solution, we need to understand the problem: What is a famine and why does it happen?

The U.N. declares a region is experiencing a famine when it faces these three circumstances:

• 20 percent of the population has access to fewer than 2,100 calories of food a day

• More than 30 percent of children suffer acute malnutrition

• Two adults or four children out of every 10,000 die each day from starvation

Famines can be caused by a variety of factors, including war and other violent conflicts, drought, and crop failure.

In South Sudan, fields lie abandoned by farmers forced from their homes by tribal warfare. In Nigeria, people on the run from Boko Haram terrorists don’t have enough to eat. And in Zimbabwe, unpredictable droughts and floods have destroyed crops and livestock across the country. Not to mention, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are facing the worst famine in years.

But no matter what causes a famine, it is always the children who suffer most.

The entire child — from his mind to the soles of his feet — suffers during a famine.

His body becomes weak. His growth is stunted. He can’t concentrate in class … that is, if he’s even healthy enough to go to school.

But you can make sure that a child doesn’t have to suffer from something as preventable as hunger. For $40, you can provide food for one child for an entire year. That’s less than 11 cents a day.

That’s probably less than you spend on groceries in a single week! It doesn’t take much to save a child from starvation.

The gift of food will mean a child can focus in school because his stomach is full. He will grow stronger. And he will no longer know those gnawing pains of hunger.

Famine isn’t just a list of facts. Famine has a face. And it’s a gaunt face with sunken eyes full of longing. It’s the face of a child that you can help save today.

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