As Ivan Carter spelled out to me in an interview: “Hungry stomachs have no ears.” He meant that when people are hungry, they do not have the capacity to see the need to restore and conserve ecosystems. Mark Haldane understands that as well. The Civil War in Mozambique had been over for a mere two years when Mark appeared in Coutada 11 in 1994. The Sena villagers, like almost all rural Mozambiquans, were protein-starved. Children were suffering from chronic malnutrition and severe protein deficiency, or Kwashiorkor – a visible sign of which was their terribly bloated bellies. Mark knew that if Coutada 11 was to become whole again, the people would first need a dependable supply of protein. His goal of 10 pounds of red meat per week, per family, probably sounded like a pipe dream to the hungry villagers, but Mark’s vision eventually came to pass. Though the National Institutes of Health still consider malnutrition in Mozambique of major concern, with nearly half of all children suffering from malnourishment, this is no longer true in Coutada 11. Gone are the bloated bellies in the children. Gone also are the concerns of the parents over when their next meal of protein might occur.
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