Bonnie Wright: They've had to cut their meals down from three to one a day

One child was so gaunt he looked almost like a corpse

Share

The actress Bonnie Wright, 21, best known from the Harry Potter films, has just returned from Kédougou, Senegal, where the food crisis is at its peak.

"This was the first trip I had ever done of this kind" she said. "We arrived at the health centre first – five doctors to look after 200,000 patients. It was quite overwhelming, as I saw people really far down the stages of malnutrition. I met a young mother, Fatoumala Fofana, who was my age, with three children. Two of her children were with her, and while they are both about a year old, they looked so, so young. One child, Dihassan, was severely malnourished. He was so gaunt, his skin completely scabbing over, and he looked almost like a corpse. His mother was telling me how she had lost so much weight too and had another child at home. They had travelled four hours to get to the health centre – you can't even bring yourself to understand what it's like.

"Like most people I met there, she hadn't seen a harvest last year. She had no money, nothing to eat, and her husband had to go away to find money elsewhere – which isn't at all part of their tradition. Most people in Kédougou are from farmers' families, and suddenly they are being thrown into trades like mining, which are alien jobs to them. Some men stay away for three or four days at a time, because they are too embarrassed to admit they have nothing to send home.

"One mother, Dieynasa Ba, 35, had six children. She told me plain facts: her family had cut their meals down from three to one a day. Only one of her children was left at school and he has to cycle three hours there and back on just one meal a day. He comes back exhausted, but has to do the same all over again the next day.

"The mothers all knew what would help their children break out of poverty: education. They see it as the only way to empower their children and help them find work that is more stable than farming in the village. All the people I spoke to were so incredibly dignified, upbeat and hopeful. One woman, Fatima Diallo, 20, with five children, was receiving Oxfam's cash transfers of about $80 to last a few months. She had no other form of income and said she split it three ways: one part for food, one for health and for education. It has provided stability for her family.

"The energy there was palpable; people wanted to help now rather than wait for things to get worse later. They are about to go into harvest again in September – when they'll have even less food and less energy.

"It put so much into perspective. The people I met never complained and showed so much solidarity. If, as a nation, we spoke louder to help these people, the Government would understand the responsibility they have. They would realise this is what Britain wants. It is about highlighting the situation, and talking about it across different platforms – especially in my generation. It's about saying we don't just care for ourselves, but also about people thousands of miles away. If you can't give your money, you can give your voice."

Bonnie Wright is an ambassador for Oxfam GB

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London