Children in Hunger - Working to combat child poverty in Brazil

As part of our on-going DSC e-news features on why you do what you do, Graham Townsend writes about his experience setting up Children in Hunger.

I had never really considered myself a particularly charitable person before, but in 1992 while travelling in the town of Fortaleza, in Brazil’s poor north-east region, I saw child poverty that really shook me and had a big effect on my future life.

I saw children of no more six years old passing their days selling coconuts or sandwiches under the hot sun on the beach instead of being at school or at home with their families. I always thought that if ever I came into money I would do something to try to help the situation. The years passed and my financial situation had not improved. Then in 1999, I decided it was time to do something, so I started Children in Hunger.

Setting up

I tried to get funding to open a feeding centre for these poor children, who living in the most miserable conditions. But no one was interested in helping. But one charity did tell me that if I had already set up the centre and it had been running for a while, I would have a better chance of getting funding. So I invested £6,000 of my own money into the charity to get it started. Then when it was up and running I did start to get grants from some of the grant making trust.

Unfortunately I have never managed to raise enough to keep our work going in the way that I would have wished, and always top up our income with my own money. This is not easy as I am not a wealthy person, just a poorly paid civil servant.

Ten years

In about 2008, things were particularly bad with the economic situation in the UK, from where all our funding comes. After running the charity for nearly ten years, I just couldn’t face shutting it down and disappointing all those starving children, so I decided to sell my home, and move in with my 82 year old mother, and with the money raised from the sale, our invaluable work was able to continue.

Over the years we have increased our work. Starting with the original feeding program, we then introduced school lessons for children not being given a decent education by the state, followed by vocational training for unemployed teenagers.

Children in Hunger is a very small charity, with most of the work being done by myself, and a few other volunteers. This isn’t easy to do when I also need to do a paid full time job to survive. We still find it difficult to raise the money we need each year, but I hope that the future will look upon us kindly, and repay all the sacrifices that I have made for these poor children.

To learn more about the work done by Children in Hunger, click here.