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Niger: A responsibility to protect

I was in the bush of my home country, Burkina Faso, working as a health programme coordinator when I first heard of Save the Children. In that remote part of the world, Save the Children provided health support to people in need.

I could tell the charity held strong values and I was immediately drawn to them. Since that day I’ve worked with Save the Children across the Sahel region and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I’ve been working for them for over 15 years.

Barefoot and hungry

Right now, a food crisis is affecting the people of Niger and I’m here to manage one of our three bases – Zinder, a sprawling region bordering the neighbouring Nigeria.

I’m already seeing signs of the distress in the population here – not only are more children arriving in our health centres, but children are arriving barefoot into the town from the surrounding villages.

Begging, looking for work and food and vulnerable to exploitation – the outlook for these children is bleak. I worry all the time about the neglect and abuse these children may face.

A motivating thought

I originally came to Niger for just this purpose – I arrived in Zinder in the midst of a food crisis in 2010. Starting any new job is a challenge, but arriving when millions of children are facing hunger was in a whole new league.

Two years on and my days are still never-ending. I’m at work at 6am and don’t leave until 12 hours later. We have about 60 staff members here all working flat-out to reach children in need.

It’s extremely important not to be behind – a missed report, briefing or phone call can impact on our staff’s security and our ability to help children.

Everything must be done now, today, not tomorrow.

I have a responsibility to protect these children. You cannot see children suffering, know you can help and not do anything. That thought motivates me everyday.

Please support our life-saving work in Niger today

This blog was written by Jean Valea, Save the Children Field Manager in Zinder, Niger.

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