Because of supporters like you, Save the Children staff are working around the world to help children caught in a hunger crisis. One of these people is John Loreom, our Community Mobilisation Officer in Kapoeta County, South Sudan.
"Here in South Sudan, life is precarious. If the conflict doesn’t reach your village, hunger and thirst will.
Although Kapoeta, my home town in South Sudan, is safe at the moment, that may not always be the case. As a safety measure, my wife and children have fled over the border to Kenya. They are in a refugee camp until the conflict settles. At least there my children can get an education. Here in Kapoeta, many schools have shut because children are too hungry to attend.
Girls are dropping out to spend three days a week in the bush foraging for wild fruits and collecting leaves to eat. Boys spend five hours a day digging deep into the dried river bed to reach water for their thirsty cattle.
Famine has been declared in one states in South Sudan and more than one million children in the country are now at risk of starvation. It hasn't rained properly since May last year.
So, it’s crucial we get enough emergency food and medicine into the areas where children are already hungry, and could easily starve if we don’t intervene.
Save the Children is running 16 health clinics across Kapoeta, where mothers bring their children for a check-up. If they’re severely malnourished, they’re given two months’ supply of emergency food to increase their weight.
One of the hardest parts of my job is seeing mothers turned away, even when their babies are malnourished. Supplies have run so low that we can only treat the most severe cases of starvation and have to prioritise children most at risk.
Yesterday, our team lost an 18 month old baby girl called Lomilo. She was suffering from edema, a killer disease that causes water retention, luring mothers into a false sense of security as they believe their child looks plump and healthy. We’d diagnosed her and were treating her in our intensive care unit, but she’d been brought to the clinic too late and we couldn’t save her.
Drought is natural but famine is always man-made. Luckily, we know what needs to be done. The difficult thing is to sound the alarm loud enough that we can urge donors to help us buy the right supplies in time.
Aid agencies are often criticised for showing photos of African children with flies in their eyes. But nobody talks about why the flies swarm around children, who haven’t been washed in months because a shower for them would mean a cow dying of thirst. Nobody sees the shame in their mothers’ eyes. Or the anger when NGOs say they haven't got the funds to properly help them.
So, I tell these mothers to just keep going. Dig for hours to find water underground. Walk for days to find nuts in the bush. Skip meal after meal to keep your children alive.
Help is coming. And until then you just have to survive. That’s what I tell myself every day when I miss my family painfully and get up, get ready for work, and just keep going.”