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Venezuelan Crisis: Mothers Donate Breast Milk to Save Infants from Dying from Malnutrition
Venezuela is currently experiencing a humanitarian crisis that has deeply affected the lives of many people. The country began to rapidly deteriorate after the election of president Nicolás Maduro in 2013, a leader that has abused his power to benefit his own political agenda at the cost of Venezuelan’s well-being. While in 2008 Venezuela was recognized as being the happiest country in the world, it is now suffering a socio-political and economic disaster.
The failing economy and hyperinflation have caused a massive shortage of food, medical supplies, and medicine. This has increased the number of people dying from inaccessible public health care and acute malnutrition. It has been reported that almost 80% of Venezuelan families are food insecure, and the percentage of women and children in low-income communities suffering from malnutrition has increased by 48% and 17%, respectively. Due to this increase, the severity and number of cases of children, and particularly infants, experiencing acute malnutrition has reached an alarming state.
The existing food insecurity has caused many Venezuelan mothers to starve and be physically unable to produce nutritious breast milk for their children. As a response to this issue, new mothers have taken the initiative to support each other by donating breast milk to help feed infants in need. Volunteers commonly support their own relative’s children or donate bags filled with breast milk to hospitals and organizations. Although this practice may sound unusual, this community-built initiative has given children a second chance for survival. As stated by a volunteer, Elainy Avila, 32, ‘Donating breast milk donates life by the drop.’
Despite efforts from the community, the root problem remains intact and many children die every day. This initiative demonstrates the extent of the crisis and challenges that both women and children are currently suffering from within Venezuela. It is important for all of us to not only be informed about the situation, but to also take action towards bringing awareness to our communities about this heartbreaking reality.
Torres, Adry. “Parents Seek Help from Volunteers Donating Breast Milk for Newborn Babies in Venezuelan.” Daily Mail Online. September 11, 2018. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6155589/Parents-seek-help-volunteers-donating-breast-milk-newborn-babies-Venezuelan.html.
“Venezuela: Numbers Highlight Health Crisis.” Human Rights Watch. November 15, 2018. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/11/15/venezuela-numbers-highlight-health-crisis.
“Women in Venezuela Are Donating Breast Milk to save Babies from Malnutrition | CBC Radio.” CBCnews. October 06, 2018. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.cbc.ca/radio/day6/episode-410-women-s-rage-a-star-is-born-amazon-ups-its-minimum-wage-sharon-and-bram-and-more-1.4851227/women-in-venezuela-are-donating-breast-milk-to-save-babies-from-malnutrition-1.4851241.