After the worst flooding in decades, mothers in Old Fangak, South Sudan, carried their children in buckets to dry land.

Voices of Mothers, Leaders in the Fight Against Hunger

Around the world, mothers – and grandmothers, neighbors, volunteers – are on the frontlines of the fight against hunger. They are often the first people to spot signs of malnutrition in their children and the ones to bring their children to the health clinic.

Mothers are powerful voices for change in their communities: they lead in local water committees, they run savings and loans groups, they tenaciously ensure that their children have enough nutritious food to eat, and more.

On this Mother’s Day, we are proud to share inspiration from a few of the mothers who are working by our side to forge a healthier world for every child.

Yuster, Tanzania

Yuster and her youngest son, four-year-old Joel.

Photo: Anthony Gale
for Action Against Hunger,
Tanzania

Yuster, an Action Against Hunger community health worker in Tanzania, is a mother of six children. Thanks to health workers like her, knowledge about health and nutrition is growing in her community:

“My community didn’t know what malnutrition was. They had no idea.

In my community, there are a number of taboos that have held us back. Traditionally, women and children shouldn’t eat eggs, kidneys, liver, things like that. This is food for the men and the old people...Even food distribution in the household has been a problem. If a mother prepares a chicken or beef, something like that, it is the men who are the priority and the children come after. The children get small portions, while the men are satisfied.

Now that the children are getting meat, eggs, vegetables - a more varied diet, we have seen an improvement. These are foods that are full of important nutrients for our children.

I’m really proud of my community and the difference that mothers are making for our children.”

Fatuma, Somalia

Fatuma and her daughter Halima, who recently recovered from malnutrition.

Photo: Fardosa Hussein
for Action Against Hunger,
Somalia

Fatuma, a displaced mother of two, has fought hard for the health of her children. When she regained custody of her daughter, Halima, after her divorce, the little girl came home with clear signs of neglect and malnutrition.

Action Against Hunger’s teams provided Halima with lifesaving treatment. Today, Fatuma is happy to see her child healthy again, and determined to create a brighter future for herself and her family:

“I knew my daughter would get better. I was determined to take care of her and bring back her lovely smile. She’s been through a lot and I feel that as her mother, I am making the necessary steps to teach her how to do everything. How to love, trust and be the playful and happy child that she was before [she became so malnourished].

When she grows up, I want her to go to school. I want her to have a better life than the one we live in now. I want her to have a good life. For me, I hope I can open a shop and start a business, so that I can raise my children and earn something for myself as well.

That’s my hope for the future. [For now,] I am just so happy to see my daughter in her best state again.”

Shewagu, Ethiopia

Shewagu with her two-year-old daughter.

Photo: Lys Arango
for Action Against Hunger,
Ethiopia

Shewagu, a single mother in Ethiopia, struggled to earn enough income to feed her two children. With a small loan of money and three sheep from Action Against Hunger, she launched her own business selling berbere, a dried chili featured in Ethiopian cuisine. Shewagu also received business training, including basic accounting skills, and joined a savings and support group with other women in her community:

“I have hope again!

With my loan of about $170, I started my business and things went well. In two years, I have saved about $685. My sheep have reproduced, and now I have five.

We have a social credit system. We meet every Saturday to share information and see how our businesses are going. We give [about $1.50] each month to our emergency savings fund, which we use to help a woman who has given birth or a family member who falls ill.”

Adhele, South Sudan

Adhele smiles on the road next to her fields.

Photo: Peter Caton
for Action Against Hunger,
South Sudan

After her youngest child fell ill with malnutrition, Adhele was determined to prevent hunger in her community. She learned about the importance of clean water and safe sanitation – she and her husband are building a latrine for their home. And, in a region where climate change has upended farming practices, she learned new techniques on how to grow nutritious crops in her garden.

"When I was a little girl, it used to rain from April until November, but now it might start raining in June and stop in October, which is a great surprise. Now you can cultivate two to three plots, but you harvest nothing.

We don't know what will come of the sorghum we produce each year in our plots. If there is going to be a problem with them because of drought, we don't know what will happen, but we have plenty of greens that we produce in the Kitchen Garden.

Kale and okra are soon to be harvested, so when I see them flowering, I feel so very happy. We are so happy with the seeds that we received. The entire community is so appreciative of the training we get, and we want to continue learning. More people in the village want to be trained in how to grow in the ways of the Kitchen Garden. We can help prevent malnutrition in our children – this is our deepest wish."

Noor, Pakistan

Noor with her one-year-old son, Taj Mohammad.

Photo: Khaula Jamil
for Action Against Hunger,
Pakistan

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed vulnerable people deeper into crisis. After struggling to find enough food to feed her children, Noor, a mother in Pakistan, brought her child to one of Action Against Hunger’s malnutrition treatment centers:

“I have four children. My youngest son was weak at birth. The [Community Health Worker] Sadaf, told me about the center. I got the sachets [of hunger treatment] for my child from the center and he is now getting better day by day. I get the sachets for my son 2-3 times a month and vaccinations for my other children from the center. Other women from the area also come along with me.

Due to coronavirus, we suffered a lot. There was no work for us to earn money. We were out of food and could not eat for many days or ate only once a day. Sadaf gave us information about coronavirus and taught us how to [keep] our home and children hygienic.”

Action Against Hunger is the world’s hunger specialist and leader in a global movement that aims to end life-threatening hunger for good within our lifetimes. For more than 40 years, the humanitarian and development organization has been on the front lines, treating and preventing hunger across nearly 50 countries. It served more than 17 million people in 2019 alone.