A call for help from Niger
For all its hardship and struggle, Niger is truly an incredible place.
I have been living in Niger on and off since 2003, when I first came here as a college student on study abroad.
I still remember my awe at the sights, sounds and smells upon my arrival in Niamey, Niger’s capital.
What hooked me on this country forever though, were the people.
In Niger family and community mean everything. And, in the beautiful African sense of it, family is an expanding, open idea, where friends and neighbors are soon considered to be brothers, sisters and cousins. Within months of my arrival, I had established my own Nigerien family.
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Family is everything
Since my arrival in Niger there have been three periods of food crisis – 2005, 2010 and now, in 2012.
This year nearly 6 million people are judged at risk. The fact is, however, that life is always a struggle in Niger. It’s the second poorest country on Earth.
This is why family and community are so important for Nigeriens. When times are good, individuals, families and communities share everything they have. When times are tough, as they are now, Nigeriens continue to share everything they have, whether it be with their family, village or nationwide.
A call for help
This year, however, families and communities have reached their limit.
The Nigerien government has, commendably, committed resources and energy to helping families survive this crisis.
Despite their effort, however, they do not have the resources to make sure that the millions of children at risk make it through this period in good health.
During the 2010 crisis, members of my own Nigerien family benefited from the work of organisations like Save the Children, who saved our youngest cousins from severe malnutrition.
While Save the Children is working hard to respond to the current crisis, we also run projects to help communities make some revenue and improve their prospects.
Things like new gardening methods; distributing livestock, improved seeds and fertilizer and credit schemes for farmers can all help people in the long term.
Mitchell G. Boutin is the Newborn and Child Survival Campaign and Advocacy Officer for Save the Children in Niger.
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