This Week in Restoring Family Links: 2/23/17

Sophia Fredericks, Social Engagement Intern, National Headquarters Washington D.C.

Helena Mateus, who received support from the Portuguese Red Cross. Photo Credit: Portuguese Red Cross

Helena Mateus, who received support from the Portuguese Red Cross. Photo Credit: Portuguese Red Cross

Portugal: A program set up by the Portuguese Red Cross has helped a single mother diagnosed with cancer. Helena Mateus was diagnosed with cancer 14 years ago which has caused her to retire early. Mateus said “It is difficult to make ends meet, having to pay the rest of the  bills and all the medication I need.” Mateus not only has to provide for herself but also her teenage daughter.

As a way to support families, the Portuguese Red Cross has set up a program called Portugal Maz Feliz or Happier Portugal Program. It was created in 2009 after an economic crisis affected Portugal in 2008 and there were significant spending cuts as well as an increase in taxes. This crisis poorly affected Portuguese families. After the economic crisis the unemployment rate in Portugal increased as much as 15%.

Many families were affected by this. 120,000 families who relied on food aid were affected. 500,000 lost their state child allowance as well. Daniela Costa, a Red Cross Program Manager said “This Program is much needed in Portugal and we have no time frame for it.” This program is set up all across Portugal with the goal of providing every kind of help such as mentoring or coaching to those unemployed.

Senegal: Malnutrition is currently a large problem occurring in Senegal affecting children. This problem is occurring and is linked to poor harvests. Tidiane Sane, the Food Security focal point at the Senegalese Red Cross said “Many children are malnourished in Dahra due to poor harvests. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that most the mothers are unaware of their childrens' nutritional needs.” Children suffering from malnourishment cannot attend school and are vulnerable to infection and disease.

Photo Credit: Moustapha Diallo, IFRC

Photo Credit: Moustapha Diallo, IFRC

As many as 45% of children who die in Senegal are sufferers of malnutrition. The Red Cross has now begun a screening campaign through the Senegalese Red Cross to help those suffering from malnutrition. Severe cases of malnutrition are treated at the closest health center while moderate cases are now able to be treated in villages. Current rates of malnutrition are very high but the Red Cross screening campaign is working to help those affected.