Help Nigerien Mothers Like Fatima

Niger, February 15, 2006

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    Fatima and her daughter Karima have benefited from Mercy Corps' feeding program in their village of Sanam, Niger. Photo: Maria Finch/Mercy Corps Photo:

Fatima lives with her husband and their six children in Sanam, a remote village in Niger that's accessed only by a barely passable dirt road.

Her husband is a primary school teacher who also tends the family's millet fields with the help of the children. The millet he raises is the primary food source for the entire family. Unfortunately, drought and pestilence have left their last couple of harvests in a shambles, plunging them into a dire food crisis and deep into debt.

Because of this crisis, Fatima's youngest daughter, Karima, became chronically sick and kept losing weight. Fatima was unable to provide enough high-quality, nutritious food to help her regain her strength and thrive.

Fortunately, Mercy Corps began working with the Health Center in Sanam to provide UNIMIX - a corn and soy mixture with essential vitamins and minerals - to malnourished children. Karima qualified to participate in the program and began receiving daily rations of UNIMIX, which satisfied most of her caloric needs.

Since beginning our response to the food crisis in August 2005, Mercy Corps has treated over 8,000 moderately and severely malnourished children in feeding centers positioned throughout Niger's barren Filingue Department. In addition, we've trained 26 health workers and 54 community volunteers to manage feeding centers and local health clinics. These workers represent the best hope to deliver aid during the current and future food crises.

After four weeks, Karima was well enough to graduate from the program. Fatima is very grateful to Mercy Corps and asked that the program continue because she knows there are others who need help.