Nutrition at the cutting edge
“Right now I am searching for water but I will reply as soon as I can 👍🏼😊”
As place-holder text messages go, it’s got to be the most shocking I have ever received.
My friend Martha sent it from Venezuela on the 11th of March.
Two days later the BBC corroborated: Venezuelans search for water amid power cut
As you will already know, Venezuela is facing an increasing crisis, which currently includes food and water shortages.
I love working in nutrition. I love seeing people’s health improve and enable them to do what they’re built to do.
But here is the obvious tension: between promoting health in the wealthier parts of the globe, and concern for those who just need food and water in the first place.
One link between the two is hope: hope that people can get well, and hope that it's possible and right for everyone to access basic necessities. Both work towards change, eagerly expecting that health and justice will replace sickness and poverty.
I also believe that when individuals in wealthy places aren't inhibited by their own health problems, they can more powerfully support others abroad.
This blog is not a forum for every world need. But since I've chosen to partner with Martha as I build my business, let me give you a snapshot.
I met Martha in 2016 and saw her almost daily for about a year, before she went to live in Venezuela in 2017. We stayed in touch.
She is petite, preternaturally young-looking for her 50-odd years, wiry, determined, tirelessly positive and kind. She carries integrity and humility with a gentle lightness of spirit.
Last week, Martha summarised her current work for me:
“In May 2017, I moved from the UK back to my own country of Venezuela, in order to support my relatives and local churches in the city of Barquisimeto, as we face the current crisis of food shortage and water scarcity, power outages, poverty and violence.
My vision is to see those in my area receive daily food and basic essentials, and to see my local communities act positively to improve their own living conditions, despite our very harsh circumstances.
I work towards this by collaborating with two local churches called Comunidad Cristiana ‘Amor de Dios’ and Shekinah ‘Las Buenas Nuevas del Norte’.
Together, we provide regular food, medicines and basic supplies for the most vulnerable, ie street children, pregnant women and the elderly. Each week we also visit and bring food to the local orphanage, Fortunato Orellana in Barquisimeto. We do practical service of all kinds wherever we can, but we also encourage people to do as much for themselves as possible – not become victims.
We combat poverty with big generosity. Individuals are giving to each other with great sacrifice.
My UK passport now allows me to go to buy supplies in Colombia. I am also able to use my UK bank card in supermarkets and a pharmacy here, when supplies exist.
Gifts I receive go straight to food projects at my local churches, to the needy individuals and families I encounter every day, and to cover my basic living expenses as I serve here.”
So. Martha is accountable, but she isn't a slick organisation with all the overheads. She's a powerful woman at the coalface.
She successfully demonstrates and offers hope to her community in an incredibly challenging daily situation.
She's making a difference. I'm proud to partner with her.
You too can give directly to Martha's UK PayPal account, by clicking right HERE. With her UK bank card, she can use your donation right away to buy food in the supermarket or medicines in the pharmacy.
As you can imagine, everything and anything from £2 to £20, or £200 to £2K, is going to be immediately useful.
Thank you in advance for joining your hope to Martha's hope. Thank you for catalysing nutrition at the cutting edge.
To your best of health,
Clare Backhouse, dipION, Registered Nutritionist MBANT, Registered Nutritional Therapist CNHC
Consultations in London, in West Sussex, and online