SIERRA LEONE: Children at Don Bosco Youth Center have access to better nutrition thanks to Feed My Starving Children rice meal shipment
(MissionNewswire) Children attending the Don Bosco Youth Center in Lungi, a small coastal town in the Port Loko District of the Northern Province of Sierra Leone, have access to better nutrition thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions and Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to “feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit.”
Lungi is a poor community and the demand for nutritional rice meals is at an all-time high. Most youth attending activities at the Don Bosco Youth Center are malnourished and underprivileged. The feeding program ensures they have the proper nutrition to improve their concentration at school, participation in sports programming and interaction with peers while at the center.
Emma Kamara is a 34-year old single mother of five children. She has struggled to provide for her family especially during this time of government transition and rising prices. She says, “The rice has been a blessing in keeping me and my family alive. Before receiving the rice, I could only afford to feed my children late in the evening which means that they would go to school hungry thereby making it difficult for them to concentrate and participate fully in classes. However, with the provision of the rice which I receive through the Salesian of Don Bosco, I am able to feed my children in the morning before going to school and hopefully they will acquire the adequate knowledge which will enable them to care for me when I am old and their younger brothers and sisters.”
Another recipient, Joseph Kamara is a 15-year old student. Since receiving the rice-meals he has been able to spend more time with his friends instead of working to pay for something to eat. He notes, “The feeding program at the Don Bosco Center every Saturday is helping us greatly. We used to go and work for farmers so that we can get something to eat. However, when we started receiving the food, we would no longer have to do odd jobs for people on Saturdays. The food gave us the opportunity to be together not only to share the meal but also to have a football team in our vicinity. The rice is helping us to develop our skills in football and to bring us together as a team.”
The ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Feed My Starving Children has resulted in 40-foot containers of fortified rice-meals being shipped to Salesian sites around the globe. Feed My Starving Children provides the food and Salesian Missions takes care of the cost and logistics of shipping each container from Feed My Starving Children warehouses to the destination country. Salesian Missions also works to help identify where the greatest needs are at any given time. The partnership began in early 2006 when the first 40-foot container was donated to and shipped by Salesian Missions for programs in Sri Lanka.
Salesian missionaries have been serving in Sierra Leone since 2001 when they began working to rehabilitate former child soldiers through the organization, Don Bosco Fambul. In the years since, Don Bosco Fambul, located in the country’s capital city of Freetown, has become one of the country’s leading child welfare organizations—offering food, clothing, crisis intervention services, shelter, educational opportunities, long-term counseling and family reunification.
Food security in Sierra Leone is undermined by chronic poverty. The UN World Food Program reports that over half of the population lives under the national poverty line of earning approximately $2 per day. According to the 2016 Global Hunger Index, Sierra Leone also faces an alarming level of hunger with nearly 38 percent of children younger than 5 years of age suffering from chronic malnutrition.
Young people, especially, face significant challenges in accessing education. With too few teachers and school buildings destroyed in the war, resources are thin. And persistently high illiteracy rates mean that an estimated 70 percent of Sierra Leone’s youth are un- or under-employed.
UNICEF – Sierra Leone