CEO PATRICIA ERB TALKS ABOUT OUR TELEVISION CAMPAIGN
Images of starving Austrian children during World War I prompted Eglantyne Jebb to found Save the Children in Britain in 1919.
Jebb was so disturbed by these pictures that she shared them with the British public – not only to raise money, but to demonstrate that these children were the collateral damage of a brutal war. While the public viewed them as children of the enemy, the stark images cut through the harsh political rhetoric of the time to focus on mercy, not retribution.
Recognizing that children had rights as individuals, Eglantyne Jebb was the first person to draft a declaration of children’s rights, articulating the world’s duty to protect all children from harm. Save the Children holds in its DNA both the promotion of children’s rights and dignity as well as the commitment to bring to the world’s attention the plight of the most desperate.
In my 26 years with Save the Children, the highlight of my career has unquestionably been meeting with the children we work with, all around the world. The happy faces I’ve seen are a wonderful reminder of our commitment to ensuring children’s rights. But I’m reminded of the unjust realities still faced by too many children when I see faces filled with pain and hopelessness.
Seeing children suffering from malnutrition and extreme hunger is amongst the worst things I’ve witnessed. It is shameful that millions of children die every year because of malnutrition when globally we have enough nutritious food for all.
It often takes a crisis for the media to tell the story of children living with deprivation – such was the case with the siege of Madaya, Syria. And now, because of public outcry, humanitarian aid access has been granted. But in other situations equally as dire, there is no media story, no public outcry. Today Ethiopia is facing the worst drought and food crisis in generations – there are 10.1 million people in need of emergency food assistance and that number will only increase. Children are amongst the most vulnerable and hardest hit in emergency situations like this. We cannot wait for the media to be ready to share this story, we need to act now.
The images in our television spot are hard to look at. They are graphic, and they are upsetting to me. But the fact is that they reflect the daily situations faced by millions of children like Kayembe (the child featured), in countries like Ethiopia, Mali, Syria and others.
Save the Children works in 120 countries around the globe, ensuring children are protected wherever possible. We’ve done so for almost 100 years. But we have never, and cannot ever do it alone. We work alongside local partners – over 90% of our staff are from the countries in which we deliver our programs. We also work alongside our donors. With their support, we reached 55 million children directly in 2014 alone.
We need continued help to keep providing food, water, healthcare, education and dignity for children like Kayembe, all over the globe.
It is our hope that sharing this story will lead to greater public awareness and outcry over the suffering faced by children around the world. There is still so much to be done, and we need your help to do it.
Thank you for your support
President & CEO
Our television spot tells the story of Kayembe, from Mali.
Kayembe was brought to Tshiamala hospital by his aunt. She had walked for an hour and a half just to reach the hospital. Kayembe’s parents both died of HIV/AIDS, his mother passing only one month before this spot was filmed.
As Kayembe’s mother’s condition deteriorated, so did his. He lost weight and developed malnutrition. His aunt – his mother’s sister – began to care for them both, but with four children of her own, she was simply not able to look after everyone. Kayembe’s aunt and uncle are farmers and only generate a small income and it barely provides basic food like maize flour and rice.
For the month before he arrived at Tshiamala Hospital in Mali, Kayembe was suffering from a fever and diarrhoea. Once at Tshiamala, he was diagnosed with severe malnutrition and prescribed both antibiotics and Plumpy-nut®, a high energy food specifically formulated to rehabilitate severely malnourished children.
A few weeks after this diagnosis, Kayembe was discharged from the hospital, healthy and in recovery.
Become a Lifeline Now.
Food Crises and Save the Children's Response: Our Work in Mali
Save the Children has been operating in Mali for more than 35 years, and has a close, co-operative relationship with both the government and local partner organizations. In 2012, the worst drought in living memory hit the Sahel region. That drought led to massive food shortages and ultimately, a food crisis. Save the Children’s presence in Mali during 2012 worked to provide children with the essentials of nutritious food, clean water, education, health care, and dignity.
A key Save the Children focus in Mali today remains the nutritional status of children under the age of five. We aim to reduce children’s illness and deaths due to malnutrition, by addressing its underlying causes. The Sahel region continues to be plagued by food insecurity today, a reality that is impacted by climate change. As such, Save the Children also aims to improve food security and the economic status of families in Mali, to help lift children out of poverty.
Current Food Shortages And Emergencies Around the Globe
The world’s attention was grabbed in early January, 2016, when news about the siege in Madaya, Syria, made headlines all over the world. Graphic images of children starving prompted a public outcry, and humanitarian assistance was finally allowed into the town. Public outcry over looming food crises in other areas has yet to occur. Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries and where Kayembe is from, suffers from routine drought conditions and risks food crises on a regular basis.
Ethiopia is facing the worst drought in generations, partly due to El Nino-induced weather patterns. Over 10 million people are in need of emergency food assistance; 5.75 million children are at risk of hunger and we’re projecting more than 400,000 cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition in children in 2016, just like Kayembe.
The Ethiopian government is showing leadership but they cannot do it alone. Save the Children is on the ground in 101 out of 142 of the worst-affected districts providing support including clean water, medicine and nutrition supplements for children suffering from malnutrition.
Join Lifeline and Lift Children to Safety.