Small acts of love make big things happen

26 February 2022

A nun, smiling while talking to a room of new mothers

Sister Anthonia helping new mums learn techniques to keep their children healthy at ante-natal classes.

One small act of love can grow into something wonderful. Your generosity this Lent can help children around the world whose lives are at risk from malnutrition.

In the small town of Pendembu in Sierra Leone, Amie and Mohammed had the tiniest baby. They named her Lombeh. Lombeh was so small, Amie said, “people would ask if I was carrying a doll."

Soon after being born, Amie noticed that Lombeh wasn’t growing and that she was dangerously unwell. “She would eat and eat but there was no increase in her weight. The sickness was just getting worse and worse, and we were scared,” Amie said.

The doctors Amie visited told her that her breastmilk didn’t have sufficient nutrients to help her baby grow. Mohammed had recently lost his job and good food was too expensive, so Amie couldn’t get enough nutrients in her diet. This meant baby Lombeh was severely malnourished.

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The doctors told Amie and Mohammed that there was nothing they could do to save Lombeh. She was too small to survive.

For a long while, Amie felt like she had no one to turn to for advice and support. She felt lonely and afraid, but she never gave up hope. She bought Lombeh a bracelet. It wasn’t much bigger than a two pence coin, but Lombeh was now so tiny it could fit all the way up her arm to her shoulder. The bracelet was a symbol of hope. Amie planned to show it to Lombeh when she was older, to prove to her how much she had grown.

Why are so many people so dangerously hungry?
A nun pouring ingredients into a large metal bowl

Cookery classes for young parents teach them how to adapt local recipes to be extra nutritious for growing children.

There are 200 million children like Lombeh around the world whose lives are at risk from malnutrition. Billions more people suffer from a lack of access to sufficient nutritious food.

The fact of the matter is there is plenty of food in the world to feed everyone – but food is not equally distributed.

People are hungry because of how food is produced and consumed. Our current food system is dominated by just a few very large multinational companies that continually put profit before people and planet.

This system also accelerates the climate crisis, which is affecting the way small-scale farmers grow their food. Temperature rises, unpredictable rainy seasons and extreme weather like cyclones and drought are seriously impacting food production.

Beyond the numbers, there are always real people with real stories

Amie eventually made contact with a local CAFOD-funded clinic run by Sister Anthonia – an expert in healthcare for new mums and babies. Like the doctors, Sister Anthonia didn’t think Lombeh would survive, but she was prepared to act in hope and help the child. She told Amie that the Sisters would do everything they possibly could.

The Sisters worked with Amie to make a highly nutritious sesame-seed paste, based on a traditional recipe and made especially for children suffering from malnutrition. Over the next few months, Amie returned to the clinic every day with Lombeh for constant check-ups. Finally, Lombeh began to grow.

Lombeh with her Mum and Sr Antonia at the health centre

Lombeh with her Mum Amie and Sr Antonia at the health centre.

Now, years later, Lombeh is a healthy, happy young girl. She cannot believe her arm used to fit inside that tiny bracelet her mum bought her. She loves having her dad throw her up in the air and catch her, but she’s even getting too big for that!

For a long while, Amie felt like she had no one to turn to for advice. She thought she was beyond the reach of the support she needed to keep Lombeh from dying. Thankfully, no one is beyond the reach of love.

Now, Amie is sharing the knowledge she’s learnt with even more new mothers in her community. That act of love and that life-saving knowledge continue to grow.

With your help we can continue to make sure mums and babies get the help they need to thrive and live with dignity. And by raising your voice, you can fight for genuine change and make sure food is fairly distributed around the world, so no one goes hungry ever again.

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