THE international development charity Send a Cow has launched its biggest-ever appeal to raise the living standards of mothers in the poorest regions of Africa.
The appeal, the Mother & Child campaign, has the backing of the Department for International Development, which has pledged to match all donations given before 31 December.
In sub-Saharan Africa, one child in three is stunted as a result of poor nutrition. Most women rely on small-scale agriculture to feed their children and earn an income. They are often hampered, however, by a lack of farming knowledge, skills, and confidence, and it is this that the Mother & Child campaign seeks to address, working directly with mothers and women of childbearing age.
Mercy Akinyi, who is 22, is one of the mothers whom Send a Cow hopes to work with as part of the appeal. She lives in a rural village in western Kenya, and is raising her two young children alone: Brighton, aged four, and Angel, 18 months. Although young, she is also the main carer for her younger siblings and her mother, who recently lost both hands in a terrible fire.
SEND A COWMouths to feed: Mercy Akinyi with one of her children
Mercy dropped out of school to provide for her family. She has a small plot of land on which she must grow everything to keep them alive. At present, the family manages one meal a day.
In contrast with this, Ruth Machuma Ndunde, aged 30, and a mother of five, tells a different story. She and her husband began working with a Send a Cow group in 2013. In two months, they had learned how to grow their own vegetables, improve their home hygiene, and build a special stove that required less firewood.
Ruth’s husband was even able to return to education. Ruth says today: “I used to beg for food, and did hard labour to feed my children — but still they were often in hospital and undernourished.
“Today, having worked with Send a Cow, my family can eat food of our choice, and at any time of day. We grow surplus food, and can afford three meals a day, plus fruits. I am so confident I can feed my family that I have now taken in two local orphans who were homeless.”
Send a Cow is one of more than 20 charities across Britain to be selected to run UK Aid match appeals. The International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, said that its appeal would save lives “by helping thousands of families in west Kenya to grow, eat, and sell nutritious food. This is vital, as nearly a quarter of children under five in the region have stunted growth; and one in 25 children do not make it to their first birthday.”
Send a Cow was founded in 1988 by Christian dairy farmers who, at the start, flew dairy cows on planes to Uganda. It now works in seven countries across East Africa. Working with families for up to five years, the charity has already helped more than 1.3 million people to transform their lives.
Its CEO, Paul Stuart, says: “We all know that a healthy diet is important, but it’s even more critical in the first 1000 days of a child’s life. Contrary to popular belief, there is enough food in the world, and mothers should not be in the position where they have to watch their children suffer from malnutrition.’’
The Church Times is Send a Cow’s media partner for this appeal. To donate, visit www.sendacow.org/motherandchild.