Hunger threatens children’s lives around the world. Children like Sarnai and Shenaz live day to day, wondering if they will eat. But you can help. This winter, give a gift to fill their bellies, and save their lives.
Sarnai is Hungry
Seven-year-old Sarnai is hungry. Her family lives in a one-room, tent-like home on a bare, blustery hillside overlooking Ulaanbaatar. On the other side of the hill, the city dump sprawls for miles and miles.
This wasteland, this dumping ground for a million people’s garbage, is a living place, teeming with animals and people who pick through the refuse to gather whatever they can find to survive. A rotten loaf of bread. A bone with some meat on it. Plastic or glass or metal that can be recycled for money. To get first pick at the discarded food in the trucks that arrive at dawn, some people sleep here, using cardboard and old tires to block the icy night wind.
To stay warm, they burn tires and trash, breathing noxious smoke into their lungs. In winter, when they climb up on the trucks, some of them slip and fall to their deaths. In summer, when it is hot and damp, some of them get life-threatening infections.
Some of them — a lot of them — have known no other life, no other place. They are just children, growing up in garbage.
Unlike many of the children who live and work in the dump, Sarnai and her two sisters have a home — a one-room, traditional Mongolian home called a ger. They live there with their mom and their grandmother.
But like so many children in this community, Sarnai and her sisters work alongside their mom every day at the dump — picking through the trash in search of recyclables and food.
They live on what they can find. Often, this means surviving on one meal or less per day.
The hunger pains Sarnai feels are constant.
When you look into Shenaz’s eyes, they are dull.
From grief, from sickness — and from hunger. But no 4-year-old should have hunger in her eyes.
Last year Shenaz’s father passed away. Her mother has little education and is struggling to find a job, but she has Shenaz and four other children to care for. A generous uncle is helping them to get by, but it’s barely enough.
The family lives in a makeshift community at the banks of the Yamuna — Delhi’s dangerously polluted river. They have neighbors who harass them, making them feel unsafe.
Shenaz’s mother tries to find food for her children each day, but some days they skip meals. Their mother often forgoes meals to give as much food as she can to her children.
But even when they do have food, it’s often not sanitary to eat because of their living conditions. Not long ago, all five children contracted Typhoid.
Battling sickness and weak from malnutrition, Shenaz and her siblings desperately need help. Without consistent food, without nutritious food, Shenaz could be permanently stunted for life. She’ll continue to get sick. She won’t grow to her full strength. She’ll struggle to learn, and won’t reach her potential.
Today, and every day until she gets help, Shenaz is hungry. You can see it in her eyes.