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Irish public urged to help respond to world’s largest hunger crisis
A grandmother has told how an Irish aid organisation helped save her baby grandson from starving to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – where 27 million people are caught in a devastating hunger crisis.
Caustasie Kisoke Mukala (61) said Concern Worldwide helped keep her grandson Emmanuel (20 months) alive after she brought him to a health centre they support weighing just 3kg and in an emaciated state.
“He was so weak and underweight that he did not play or move around like other children his age,” said Caustasie, who lives in a small one room hut made of mud and straw in the Kiambi village in south-east DRC, Central Africa.
“The doctors told me he was malnourished. I was extremely worried.
“For about a month he refused food and the medicine the doctor gave him, but eventually he started to take them.
“His weight is now back to normal and he has healed and I am incredibly grateful.”
The impoverished grandmother, who earns as little as €1 a day ploughing fields, explained that she has been caring for Emmanuel and his four-year-old sister since their mother died weeks after giving birth. Their father is working in a faraway mine to repay family debts.
Things were much better for her family until a few years ago when they were forced to flee their home village where they owned land and sold fish.
“We led a normal life, but then suddenly our village was attacked. We either stayed and died or ran. The fear kept us alive,” said Caustasie, whose husband was killed by arrows during the onslaught.
Concern said an estimated 3.4 million children under-five in the DRC are acutely malnourished, which is fatal if not treated, and that they need donations to help save as many of them as they can.
The aid agency has launched a fundraising campaign that will continue over the Christmas period to provide funds for therapeutic food, like a highly nutritious peanut-based paste and other supports and training to help malnourished children.
“We are currently witnessing one of the biggest hunger crises the world has seen in recent times,” said Concern’s DRC Country Director, Russell Gates.
“Over 27 million people, one quarter of the DRC’s population, are fighting for survival due to hunger caused by poor harvests, conflict and disease.
“Young children are suffering and need our help to survive, which is why we are urging the public to give what they can to help us save more children like Emmanuel.”
Concern has been working in the DRC since 1994 when it responded to the refugee crisis that followed the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda.
They have been providing both emergency and development aid in response to its many challenges that include the homelessness caused by ongoing armed conflicts and outbreaks of Ebola and COVID-19.
The DRC is the second largest country on the African continent with a population of over 100 million people. It remains one of the poorest countries in the world despite being rich in natural resources.
Anyone who would like to support Concern’s Christmas appeal can go to concern.net or call 0818 410 510.
For more information or interview requests, please contact Kevin Jenkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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