When Firdaoussi passed away she was four years old. Her short life was already marred by tragedy — three older sisters died before her.
One in six children don’t live to see their fifth birthday in Niger. Firdaoussi and her family were already poor when this crippling food crisis started taking hold on the country.
Having enough to eat
Sitting with her two daughters in her village, Firdaoussi’s mother Nana told us the story of her life.
“My husband, Ibrahim and I have been married for over a decade and we have two daughters, who are alive — my eldest, Rahila and second daughter, Naima. I have a beautiful family but we live in poverty on a daily basis.
“The most important thing in my life is having enough to eat, because without food a person can’t do anything. The lack of food makes me very angry. We need food and we don’t have any.”
The loss of my child
“My family had been suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea. This caused the death of my daughter Firdaoussi just days ago. My daughter was vomiting and had diarrhoea before she died. Both illnesses are common in our village.”
When children are malnourished they are unable to fight the most basic of illnesses.
No-one worries when a child has diarrhoea in the UK. In Niger it’s deadly.
Often unable to access medicine, clean water or food, the poorest children are in constant danger.
I do it for the money
Nana has no time to mourn. Living on the poverty line means Nana has to work every hour of the day.
“Both me and my husband farm other people’s land for money when they need the extra help and I grind millet for wealthier families in the village.
“We also sometimes have to beg and receive help from others in times of need. I do it for the money to buy something for my children and me. The most important people in my life are my family — especially my daughters and my husband.”
A better future
“Our life is always the same because we suffer from the problems of poverty and a lack of health care, over and over. But despite all these problems when I talk with my neighbours every day I can still laugh,” says Nana.
Like any mother, Nana wants a better future for her children.
“I hope that my children will go to school and become teachers. We take care of them, we find it difficult to feed them, especially this year when things got complicated and we have not had good harvests. I want my two daughters to stay alive and grow up.”
She left us with one ask that demonstrates the depth of the poverty in Niger, and the simplicity of her needs.
“Please, help us. With 70p I can buy a day’s supply of millet for my family.”