Lewis witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of hunger on mothers and their babies in a country where over half the children under five are affected by malnutrition.
“Normally the winter months are focused on one thing – racing,” wrote Lewis. “The schedule is punishing and my life is absorbed by ongoing training and preparation. But this month, I decided to take a couple of days out to go deep into the heart of India to find out what life was like for children and their families who are struggling to survive day in, day out because they don’t have enough to eat.”
For some children, the effect of hunger can occur before they are even born.
Lewis visited the UNICEF funded newborn care unit in Shivpuri, where newborn children are taken for life-saving treatment. These babies are often born dangerously small and underweight because their mother didn’t have enough to eat during her pregnancy.
“Like everyone I have seen the criticism about a country like India receiving foreign aid when they can afford to host a Grand Prix,” wrote Lewis. "But my visit to the new born care unit has left me in no doubt that partnerships between organisations like UNICEF and the government, really are saving children’s lives, day in, day out.
“Next year, UNICEF and others will be calling on the UK government and other world leaders to put an end to child hunger. Please remember the plight of these tiny babies, like I will, and add your support.
“No child, no matter where they live in the world should go hungry or lose their life because they or their mum don’t have enough to eat. We all have a role to play in making sure they have the best chance in life and for that we should be proud.”
Before the centre was set up by UNICEF, most of these children would have died at home, but now with the care that it provides their chance of survival is over 85%.
The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are vital. Without enough nutritious food during this time, children can be affected by stunting, an irreversible condition that affects both a child’s mental and physical development. India accounts for a third of the world’s children who suffer from this.
Community feeding centres, like the one visited by Lewis during his trip, are set up by UNICEF to help some of the most at risk by providing food to help a child grow and give them the best possible chance in life.
You can read Lewis’ article here.
Source: UNICEF UK