Stars speak up for farmers in Burundi

Send a cow SM Farm

A band of well-known faces have joined together to raise awareness of farmers living in the ‘hungriest country in the world’, Burundi.

The star-studded video, created by UK farming charity Send a Cow, includes musician Bob Geldof, actress Jane Horrocks and television presenters Michaela Strachan and Prue Leith, to name just a few.

The one minute video, entitled Unheard Voices, tells the story of Dionésie, a mother of four living in the remote hills of Burundi. Using her own words, the video seamlessly tells her story of hunger, hard work and hope through the voices of 16 actors, presenters, comedians, writers and musicians, all of whom were moved to volunteer their time.

Like most Burundians, Dionésie and her husband have a small plot of land on which they must grow everything they need to survive. A lack of farming skills and the effects of climate change mean they struggle to grow enough to feed their children.

The film was created by the charity Send a Cow, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Since it was founded in 1988 by West Country dairy farmers, the charity has worked with over two million people in some of the poorest parts of Africa, giving them the skills, knowledge and confidence to grow their own food, earn an income and transform their lives.

The charity’s latest campaign, featuring the Unheard Voices video, seeks to raise awareness of the issues facing people in the small African country of Burundi and encourage more support as it launches a new project there.

Located in east Africa, Burundi was officially ranked as the unhappiest country in the world by the 2018 UN Happiness Report. Most people live on less than $1 a day and food is a daily struggle for many, with the country ranked as the hungriest in the world by the 2017 Food Security Index.

Despite this, Burundi receives little media attention and few international charities operate there, leaving families like Dionésie’s struggling to survive. Send a Cow is one of the few charities working in Burundi right now and wants to work with more families like Dionésie’s.

Paul Stuart, Send a Cow’s CEO, says: ‘‘Most people have never even heard of Burundi. Despite the huge level of need, Burundi and its people have been largely forgotten; that’s why campaigns like this are so important. The people of Burundi already have a voice – but not enough people are listening. It’s time that changed.’’

Actor Ben Aldridge, who is also an ambassador for the charity, said: ‘‘No mother should have to watch her children go hungry; whether it’s in Burundi or here in the UK.

“I’ve met some of the families that Send a Cow supports in east Africa and I’ve seen that poverty and hunger are not inevitable.

“Hand-outs aren’t the answer, but a helping hand can be. With skills, training and support, farming families like Dionésie can grow their way out of poverty permanently.’’


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