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Soamihery leans against the mud wall of her single room hut, her eyes dim with chronic fatigue and hunger. She is holding her newborn, Herico, and supporting her toddler son, Damy, an acutely malnourished two-year-old with the development of a child half his age.

Around the corner, his two older siblings can be heard eating cactus fruit, the small green and red blossom found growing in the thicket surrounding this little village. These days, the prickly fruit is often the only thing to eat for Soamihery and her four young children.

“We don’t have food,” she says. “If we find food today, we eat. The days we don’t find food, we don’t eat. Sometimes we just eat cactus fruit.”

Today is better than usual: a distant relative brought the family one cassava to share. The single tuber is not much, but it is better than a diet consisting entirely of cactus fruit.

Soamihery is well aware of the dangers of malnutrition and the mounting odds against her little family. She is also exhausted. Exhausted from the recent delivery of her two-week-old child. Exhausted from breastfeeding a child that needs so much and gets so little. Exhausted from the daily struggle of raising a family alone.

“I just sleep throughout the day,” she says. “If someone brings us food, then I wake up.”

She sleeps with her newborn and her son, Damy, who lacks the energy even to stand. When he finds occasion to rise, he does so with the pain and fatigue of an old man. His legs buckle and shake, then extend slowly until he is wobbling over unstable feet. Always, his eyes stare distantly at the horizon.

“My son is sick,” the mother says. “He used to eat dirt and he was sent to a health center because of acute malnutrition. With my pregnancy and delivery, I am no longer able to take him.”

As a single mother, Soamihery has no support beyond the minor efforts of her extended family. Two years ago, her husband went north to find work in the sapphire mines, and she never heard from him again.

Despite the crushing poverty, Soamihery tries to summon energy and joy for the sake of her children. Though they are always hungry, they still like to play, and even laugh. The firstborn likes to drum patterns on an old can of vegetable oil, while her friends hold hands and dance.

“I am happy when my kids come close to me and we are all together,” Soamihery says. “I like when they are home from playing and we all laugh together. Whenever they go outside and play, they are happy, and seeing them happy makes me happy.”

“I do what I can to raise my kids,” she adds with a faint smile. “I can’t do much but I do what I can.”

Without urgent help, Damy could die. His mother, Soamihery, is doing everything she can to provide for him and his siblings, but she needs your help. Consider giving a gift that will be DOUBLED to help families like Damy’s.

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