Even during the lessons at school, her concern is focused mainly on whether there will be food in her house when she gets home. The prospects are usually grim: Her father earns a meager $20 per month, barely enough to provide a few days' worth of food for Fanny's seven-member family during that period of time.
Fanny's story is sadly reflective of a harsh reality facing most Haitian children — their families simply don't have the economic resources necessary to cover the rapidly rising cost of food. Following flooding from four powerful hurricanes there, however, the hunger situation is quickly devolving from bad to unbearable.
"The only good news here is that Hurricane Ike's path was far enough north that Haiti did not take another direct hit," said Wesley Charles, World Vision's national director in Haiti, speaking of the fourth storm to strike the island country in less than a month. "But the rains from Ike have made it even more difficult for aid workers to get into some of the worst flooded areas. People are becoming increasingly desperate."
Hurricanes Ike, Gustav, Hanna, and Fay, which all struck Haiti within a period of about three weeks, have wiped out bridges and roads, postponed school for at least a month, and perhaps worst of all, damaged the next mango harvest, Haiti's only viable export crop.
According to reports, some 10,000 people were crammed into 115 shelters in the beleaguered city of Gonaive following the passage of Ike, and only 10 of those shelters had food. In the region of Jean Denis, dirty floodwater worsened the situation for desperate families.
"Children played in the filthy water," said Steve Matthews, World Vision's emergency communications manager. "Women were washing clothes and dishes in overflowing streams. The farmland was absolutely drenched. Everything has become waterlogged, making it nearly impossible to cook, even for those who were able to salvage some of their rice."
Even before the flooding, a stable food supply was out of reach to most Haitian families, like Fanny's. Spiraling global food prices — caused by a variety of factors, including fuel costs — have dealt devastation to this poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where many live on less than $2 per day. World Vision staff members there have worked tirelessly to save children teetering on the brink of starvation.
But the four recent hurricanes have delivered a near-knockout punch. "Bread is scarce and will soon be gone, and much of people's stored brown rice got wet when Hurricane Hanna went by," explained World Vision relief coordinator Elvire Douglas.
In partnership with other humanitarian agencies, World Vision is scaling up its relief efforts in Haiti following the flooding. The top priority is to reach affected families cut off by the hurricane damage and deliver emergency food aid and supplies to those who need it most. But additional resources are needed to effectively respond to such a critical situation.
>> Please keep in prayer the children and families of Haiti who have been devastated by the dual disasters of the food crisis and recent hurricanes. Pray for children like Fanny who suffer from hunger and malnutrition, and pray for those whose situation has been made even worse by the recent flooding.
>> Donate now to help World Vision respond quickly and effectively for children and families who are suffering in the wake of the recent flooding in Haiti.
>> Give monthly to help provide food and agricultural assistance to children suffering from hunger. For just $20 per month, you can help save lives.
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