Several weeks ago, I visited northern Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in West Africa on a trip with my employer, the nonprofit organization Helen Keller International (HKI). As I shared the story of my trip with family, friends and colleagues, many asked if there was any way they could directly support our nutrition work in northern Cote d’Ivoire.
I would like to share a little bit about my trip and why I was so moved that I created this crowdfunding site.
Malnutrition is a silent crisis. It largely goes unnoticed but you see the devastating effects on a child like Zie, a severely malnourished four-year old boy who I met at Niofoin Health Clinic (he is pictured in the green shirt with his twin brother, which illustrates how much malnutrition can stunt growth).
Malnutrition is the underlying cause of nearly half of all under-5 child mortality, resulting in the deaths of 3 million children each year. Though childhood malnutrition is declining globally, it is worsening in West and Central Africa, where the number of stunted children has increased by 6 million since 2000.
Your donation will be directed to our nutrition programming in the area I visited, leveraging existing program platforms already funded by Buddhist Global Relief and Latter Day Saints Charities.
The continuing need in these communities far outstrips our current resources. I saw maternity wards without mattresses on the beds, a clinic that lacked an ambulance to transport patients to better-equipped hospitals, and so many other heart-breaking situations.
I would be extremely grateful for your support, and I can personally attest to not only the extraordinary need but also the transformative powers that these resources can have in the hands of people like Dr. Bamba Foungotin Ibrahim (our country director) and Madame Salimata Coulibaly (head of our local NGO partner), who are so committed to speaking out about the problem and working to find solutions.
After I returned, I received a moving letter from Dr. Ouraga Eric Landry, the chief medical doctor at Niofoin Health Clinic, appealing for resources to purchase technical equipment for the management of cases of malnutrition and for continued systematic screening of this condition.
I want to fulfill his request, which we have only partially met at this point, and extend any additional money raised to support other critical nutrition needs in northern Cote d’Ivoire.
Even if you cannot make a donation, I am deeply grateful to have the opportunity to share this with you. Bearing witness is the least we can do in the face of such suffering.