Online video campaign gives hope to Burundi

Charity Send a Cow launches an online video campaign that uses the voices of celebrities to narrate the story of one East African mother’s struggle to survive.

James Hayes | 13th Jun 18
Image shows Faces of some of the 16 celebrities who have donated their voices to charity Send a Cow’s video that narrates a Burundian mother’s struggle to survive.

Well-known personalities have joined together for an awareness-raising digital campaign that highlights the plight of the ‘hungriest country in the world’: East Africa’s Burundi.

The campaign centres on a video created by international development charity Send a Cow. Unheard Voices tells the story of Dionésie, a mother of four living in the remote hills of Burundi. 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.

Using Dionésie’s own words, the video tells her story of hunger, hard work and hope through the volunteered voices of 16 actors, presenters, comedians, writers and musicians. Contributors include musician Bob Geldof, actresses Jane Horrocks and Michelle Keegan, and television presenters Michaela Strachan and Prue Leith.

Since it was founded in 1988 Send A Cow has worked with over 2 million people in impoverished 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 Send a Cow launches a new project in the country.

Burundi was ranked as the unhappiest country in the world by the UN Happiness Report 2018. 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 Global 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, said Paul Stuart, CEO at Send a Cow.

‘‘Most people have never even heard of Burundi – despite the huge level of need, the country and its people have been largely forgotten – that’s why campaigns like this are so important,” Stuart added. “The people of Burundi already have a voice – but not enough people are listening. It is time that changed.’’

‘‘No mother should have to watch her children go hungry, whether it’s in Burundi or here in the UK,” said actor Ben Aldridge, another of the Unheard Voices contributors and an Ambassador for Send a Cow.

“I’ve met some of the families that Send a Cow supports, and I’ve seen that poverty and hunger are not inevitable. Hand-outs are not the answer – but a helping hand can be. With skills, training and support, farming families like Dionésie can grow their way out of poverty.’’