Meet Elisabetta Colabianchi, Founder of Kurandza, a non-profit social enterprise that invests in the future of women in Mozambique. I have featured her work and organization before on my blog and include their products under my Gifts that Give Back Guide. Kurandza uses education, entrepreneurship and sustainable development programs to help create opportunity and change for women and their communities. A devastating two-year drought in Mozambique has caused widespread hunger inspiring Elisabetta to shift gears and focus on hunger relief. Here is her heartwarming story.
“Kurandza: To Love”: Written by Elisabetta Colabianchi, Founder and Designer, Kurandza
I’d known there was a hunger crisis in Mozambique, but what really got to me was hearing that HIV positive mothers were faced with choosing between letting their children starve or nursing their children past the recommended time despite the risk of passing on HIV.
Prior to founding my non-profit organization, Kurandza, which means “to love” in the local Changana language, I lived in Mozambique as a Peace Corps volunteer for three years. While there, I worked at a rural hospital counseling mothers on the prevention of HIV transmission to their babies, and had successfully prevented the transmission to hundreds of children.
At first, I thought that maybe the mothers who continued to nurse despite the risk were doing this because they forgot their training. Or I thought perhaps I hadn’t taught them very well after all.
But when I counseled one of these mothers over the phone last month from my home, now living thousands of miles away in California, I realized she knew exactly what she was doing, and that it hurt her to do so. She knew that by continuing to nurse her child past the recommended time, she was putting her baby at risk to contract HIV. She knew that when a child contracts the HIV virus, it often leads to mortality.
This mother has already successfully raised five HIV-free children because she followed the prevention techniques. But this time is different. This time there isn’t any food for her to feed her child because of the two-year drought. There isn’t any water to grow crops on her farm to produce the food that her child desperately needs to survive. Water is a life source that they are without. Like all the women in her community, she knows that if she stops nursing, her baby will most likely die of malnutrition. So she is making the best choice for her baby by nursing despite the possible outcome.
The women facing this impossible choice is what made me pause and reassess the work I was already doing in Mozambique through Kurandza. Even though we’re in the middle of creating new educational and entrepreneurial programs for the women there, we’re refocusing our energy to something more urgent this month, because I know in my heart that we need to address the hunger crisis now.
Over 25 million people in Mozambique don’t have enough food or water
The drought has caused crops to die and food prices in the nearest stores to increase by over 200%. In a community of high unemployment and dependence on farming their own crops to survive, villagers are unable to purchase food for themselves. Because of the hunger crisis, children are eating one meal a day.
In response to the hunger crisis, Kurandza is raising $250,000 this month to provide immediate food along with long-term water and sustainable agriculture solutions so that the community can continue to farm, growing their own crops if the drought persists. All the food aid will be sourced in the local community to boost local commerce.
It’s important to supplement humanitarian assistance with long-term solutions such as building multi-functional water wells so that the community will be able to continue farming and growing their own crops even if the drought continues.
If you would like to learn more, visit www.kurandza.org.