MADAGASCAR: Partnership brings better nutrition to youth
Youth attending Salesian programs had better nutrition thanks to rice-meal shipment from Feed My Starving Children.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Nov. 30, 2021) Youth attending Salesian programs in Madagascar had access to better nutrition thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, and Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to “feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit.”
The 2020 shipment was shared among Salesian communities in Fianarantsoa and Mahajanga and Don Bosco House Ivato and Our Lady of Clairvaux Ivato in the capital city of Antananarivo. Among the recipients were three children, Bruno, Evelyne and Jacky, from Ankofafa, the poorest neighborhood of Fianarantsoa.
At the time of the rice-meal shipment, the Salesian school had been closed for five months because of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting quarantines. While some schools continued to teach at a distance, poor youth who relied on feeding programs at the school suffered the most.
A Salesian in Madagascar reported, “Feed My Starving Children rice-meals are highly valued by the poor because they are rich in nutrients. Some children who were malnourished have regained strength and health. Since June, we have bought rice from the market and beans to continue distribution to the poor, replacing Feed My Starving Children rice.”
Without a shipment from Feed My Starving Children, Salesians see the difference in the children’s health. In times of need, Salesians supply the poor with local oil, beans and rice, but funding is tight and was even tighter at the height of the pandemic when donations slowed.
“The confinement prevented the poor from doing little daily chores that allow them to survive. It was a real emergency,” added the Salesian missionary. “Feed My Starving Children rice also enabled us to help families who had had problems with cyclones following the floods.”
Salesian missionaries have been living and working in Madagascar since 1981. Today, they have 11 centers and work in several locations.
Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. Seventy percent of Madagascar’s almost 19 million people live in poverty with 5.7 million of those youth between the ages of 10-24, according to UNICEF. This number is expected to double by 2025.
For close to 80 percent of the country’s inhabitants who live in rural areas and practice subsistence farming, living conditions have been steadily declining in recent years, particularly when it comes to access to transportation, health services, education and markets. Because of the lack of hygiene and access to safe drinking water, coupled with chronic malnutrition, people in Madagascar often suffer from respiratory ailments, tuberculosis and hepatitis.
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