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Wherever I am in the world, every child I meet makes me think of my 7-month-old daughter Hildy and my 3-year-old son Finn. I wonder what it would be like if I had less to offer them—how that would impact their lives and how it would make me feel. My kids and I have options and opportunities much greater than most children and mothers around in the world. It fills me with confusion, guilt, gratitude and—above all—passion for creating change.
I left my daughter Hildy for
the first time last week to travel to Malawi for an 8-day work trip. I am the COO of an
organization called Goods for Good
that launches businesses in partnership with Malawian community centers that
care for vulnerable children. These centers provide daily meals, access to
education and other important services for 95,000 kids in 9 communities. Hildy is more often in my arms than not, so
leaving her felt like tearing away a part of myself. But I knew I had to go.
Right now, Malawi is facing
the worst food crisis in a decade. In January and February of 2015, Malawi
experienced terrible flooding that the World Food Programme called "the worst
in living memory." Homes were damaged, crops were destroyed and lives were
lost. Making the problem even worse, Malawi was later hit with a drought which
further diminished crop yields. The results have been devastating:
• Less than 25 percent of the people in Goods for Good's communities have enough
food. They would normally be consuming food gathered the previous year, but flood wiped out those crops. And this year's harvest is late because of drought.
• Due to that low supply, staple foods now cost 73 percent more
than they have in the past three years—a price increase that most people cannot
• Children are going hungry—12,000 children are
without food in Goods for Good's
communities. These children are at risk to lose valuable time at school, and
vital brain and physical development that will affect them their entire lives.
I traveled to Malawi to help
ensure our programs are having the maximum impact and connect with the people
we serve. We are focused on being partners and that means sitting down with them face to face.
It was incredibly hard to
leave Hildy and Finn, and I dreaded it for weeks. I'm still breastfeeding, so it meant months of pumping prior to the trip to make sure she had enough breast milk while I was gone. In Malawi, both my breast pumps broke so I spent a lot of
time expressing breast milk with my hands to ensure my milk didn't dry up.
More importantly, I met
mothers with children the same age as my own. They asked me to breastfeed their children who are hungry. I had to say no. I'm on epilepsy medication and also was worried about illness passing between us. I played with a little boy, pictured here in
the green turtleneck, who is the same age as my son. He had a huge smile, like so many other children. He only expects to eat one small meal a few
days a week and is filled with gratitude for it. His joyful spirit is not yet broken but soon
he will have even less and that fills me with sadness at the same time as it
inspires me to act.
I have indeed taken action
in responding to this crisis and I hope you will too. I have a goal of feeding
3,000 children. This time of year is called the "lean time" when everyone is
waiting for the harvest. Usually the harvest is in April but this year, because
of the drought, it will not come until May or even June. If I can raise enough
funds, children who would otherwise go hungry will receive a daily meal.
One of the things I love
about Goods for Good is that their
work centers on meeting the short-term and long-term needs of orphans and
vulnerable children in Malawi. Join me in helping children through this
short-term crisis, so that they can thrive long-term. It costs just $1.47 to
feed a child for a month. I hope you will make a donation today.