SIERRA LEONE: More Than 700 Youth, Widows Receive Better Nutrition Thanks to Recent Rice-Meal Donation
(MissionNewswire) Youth, children with disabilities and widows were those who benefited from a recent shipment of rice-meals thanks to an ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to “feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit.” More than 700 people in Sierra Leone have access to better nutrition thanks to this donation, which was provided to three Salesian communities in Freetown, Lungi and Bo and shared with three other partner organizations including the Widows Welfare Association, the Children’s Care Center and The Needy Today.
The Salesian community in Bo has a feeding program at the St. Teresa Police School where more than 100 poor children received meals as part of their school program. The Salesian communities in Freetown and Lungi distributed the rice-meals to their programs including to young inmates at the Pademba prison, foster families of Ebola orphans, poor families of St. Augustine and Holy Cross parishes, and families of reunified street children.
Mary Ernest, living in the slums of Freetown, is married with three children. Her husband Toni Boima is a tailor and doesn’t earn enough money to sustain his family and to send all of his children to school. Mary sometimes has to beg her neighbors for something to feed her family. Things are very hard at the moment for her family, especially due to the difficult socioeconomic conditions after the Ebola outbreak. Mary approached Salesian missionaries and asked for food assistance. She is now regularly receiving two boxes of rice each month from Feed My Starving Children. As a sign of gratitude she volunteers her time to help at the local Salesian parish. The food support she receives gives her the chance to feed her children and use her small income to pay the school fees of the only daughter who is now attending school.
“Many of those participating in Salesian programs in Sierra Leone are malnourished,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “For students, this donated food not only encourages them to attend school, it allows them to focus on getting the education they need without worrying about where their next meal will come from. Children cannot learn on an empty stomach.”
Feed My Starving Children’s Partner Assistance Program has allowed Salesian missionaries to share some of the rice-meals with other local nonprofit organizations. The Widows Welfare Association provided rice-meals to 150 widows—mostly the elderly, those living with HIV/AIDS, Ebola widows, and recently widowed women who are finding it difficult to get food daily for their families and especially their children. Most of these widows are living below the poverty line and lack any means of livelihood that will provide them with a regular income in order to support their families.
The Children’s Care Center provides an ongoing feeding program. The children are given the meals during the day. As a result of the Feed My Starving Children food distribution the children’s weight has increased by 10 percent and within two to three weeks after the donation, the children’s hair has begun to start changing from a burnt red color to a deep black.
“This fact is significant as it shows that their body is getting the necessary nutrients that they so desperately need,” said Julius A. Kebbie, managing director of the Children’s Care Center.
The Needy Today Orphanage Primary School in Mathinka Village provides services to 200 orphans, who were also recipients of the donation. In addition, other children from The Needy Today programs that received the rice-meals are children from extremely poor homes and children with disabilities.
“This food is indeed timely as we are able to eat nice rice at this difficult period for the next couple of days,” says Fatima Mansaray, one of the beneficiaries, on behalf of her classmates. “It has been a little while since we have eaten a balanced meal like this, so we are excited to have this, and we will eat together with our families. We want to say thank you for this donation.”