World Food Day 2007—A Sweet Life
By Pamela J. Karg*
Anush, is a little Armenian girl whose name means “sweet.” She is part of the 31% of Armenian children below average weight and height. Her family, part of the urban poor in Armenia, earns an average of $1.50 a day. The only nearly balanced meal Anush receives is the one she gets at kindergarten. Her life has been anything but sweet.
Like other urban poor and too many rural children, Anush suffered from malnutrition until UMCOR got involved to buy locally produced cheese to give to kindergartens, orphanages, special education schools and even retirement centers across Armenia. Malnutrition undermines proper physical development in children such as Anush, including their brains, which doctors have proven impacts their ability to learn. Malnutrition increases a child’s vulnerability to illnesses and sets the stage for long-term health problems. In fact, a 2004 report by the World Food Programme ranks Armenia, a former Soviet country about the size of Maryland, as one of the 22 worst undernourished populations in the world.
UMCOR Combats Hunger
Since 1999, UMCOR has been combating hunger through its cheese distribution program, the only such feeding program in Armenia that helps nourish vulnerable children such as Anush. With support from the U.S. State Department, about 6,000 vulnerable people receive 3 ounces of cheese every day. The cheese adds protein to their diets, providing necessary vitamins and minerals and helping improve their quality of life. Today, Anush’s life is sweet as she no longer suffers from malnutrition.
Through its current cheese program, UMCOR will deliver about 21 tons of cheese through February 2008 to several institutions for children and the elderly. However, supplies are tight because funding is scarce. UMCOR has watched fluctuating monetary funds decrease the amount of cheese it can buy and distribute. Yet, the number of hungry, vulnerable children in Armenia has not diminished.
On World Food Day 2007, Tuesday, October 16, UMCOR Armenia keeps the spotlight on feeding the poorest, most vulnerable people, including Anush. Please help by giving to Armenia Emergency, UMCOR Advance #250225.
*Pamela J. Karg is a volunteer in mission with the UMCOR office in Armenia