Bringing Hope to Nicaragua, Thanks to TOMS– One Foot at Time

We love when our partners get the opportunity to travel to the field to see how their contributions are changing lives.

 Recently, Morgan Loomis, our Director of International Partnerships traveled to Nicaragua with a delegation from TOMS—a committed partner of ours that provides new shoes to kids within our programs.

Morgan shared plenty upon her return.

Recently, Feed the Children hosted a Giving Trip in Nicaragua for a group from TOMS.

TOMS is in business to improve lives and wants to ensure their own team has the opportunity to experience this first-hand and see the impact their work is making.

I, along with local Feed the Children staff and the group from TOMS, spent a week in the field visiting communities and learning about our programs and 4-Pillar approach to development: Food and Nutrition, Water Sanitation and Health, Education, and Livelihoods.

Throughout the week, we delivered TOMS giving shoes, served meals, met with teachers and community leaders, and spent time playing with the children.

Though it was rainy season and extremely hot, I was so proud of how beautifully the TOMS staff interacted with the kids and community leaders we met during our journey. Everyone was so excited to see the work for themselves—through their eyes.

For me, personally, I loved the opportunity to interact with the hard working members of our field staff on the ground in Nicaragua. Our field teams are incredibly dedicated to our mission, but sometimes in the US we don’t truly understand all they do as they travel great distances every week to champion children in schools and at community centers. In Nicaragua alone, we feed nutritious meals to over 1,900 children in 20 communities and deliver school supplies to 1,200 students in 14 communities.

We met children in better health, doing better in school and with much hope for their futures. In community after community, teachers shared personal stories of the impact that they have seen on the children who receive TOMS and the glowing feedback they have received from parents.

Our team truly felt the joy of the children as we laughed and played with them. They love TOMS and Feed the Children for bringing shoes and the “shoemaking” team to them.

The visit gave the children an opportunity to meet TOMS staffers and make a personal connection to the individuals that support them.  This personal link is almost as important as the shoes themselves, because it truly makes the children realize someone truly cares and supports them.

We felt overwhelmed by the generous hospitality of the kids’ songs, poems and dances. Parents shared with our team later, how much the kids enjoyed playing games with the travelers and how special the visit made them feel.

TOMS groupOn our last day, the group spent the morning at Feed the Children’s Productive Training Center in El Crucero, delivering TOMS to children and visiting with the mothers. At the center, mothers are taught livelihood skills, such as training in vegetable production, baking, tailoring and poultry management. These skills not only allow them to provide food for their children, but are also an alternative income generation resource they can use to support their families in other ways.

Before we left, the volunteer moms surprised the team with a TOMS cake and expressed gratitude for their support. How cool was this!

TOMS cakeI came home thankful for TOMS and the privilege of working with the wonderful donors that support Feed the Children’s international programs.

Truly, one child, one pair of shoes at a time, we are impacting kids’ lives forever in Nicaragua, and around the world!

Hope for the Future: Kindergarten Graduates in Uganda

In some parts of the world, like in the US, registering your child for kindergarten is truly an emotional step. Your baby is a baby no more. Their educational journey has begun. Countless tears are shed in anticipation of the great change in developmental status.

But, Mom and Dad’s emotions aside, thanks to public schools, beginning and then graduating from kindergarten is a natural first step for five and six year old children in the US. Parents don’t worry that there won’t be a building or what’s most critical–an opportunity for their child’s learning to flourish.

The same is not true for early learners in Northern Uganda.

In designated settlements without early learning centers, kids simply stay at home until primary school begins in the 1st grade.

Yet, thanks to the generous child sponsors of Feed the Children back in 2013, all of this changed for a group of very excited and eager kindergarteners. The Sunrise Early Childhood Development Center opened its doors near Gulu, Uganda.

Starting small, a group of four qualified teachers and three support staff welcomed 23 preschoolers. At preschool, the kids learn the alphabet (A to Z) and counting. They also begin to learn colors, different types of animals, greetings (morning/evening greetings) and social skills like naming family members. Each child receives a hot meal each day provided by generous Feed the Children donors. Feed the Children has also installed physical equipment on site and provided school uniforms.

What is most remarkable about Sunrise is that it’s the only early childhood center in Twonokun, a village with over 1000 households. The kids who come to Sunrise are the lucky few.

Now, Sunrise hosts 124 children, many of whom now receive three meals a day from our staff–getting vital nutrients needed for their growth and development.

Sunrise hosted it first ever kindergarten graduation on November 28th of last year. (In Uganda, the school term ends for Christmas holidays late in November). It was a happy day indeed and lives on as a day for rejoicing!

With clear skies above, and the atmosphere bright and cheerful inside; children lined up for the festivities. A total of 30 children participated in this first graduation ceremony at Twonokun Village.

As part of the program, the graduates recited facts they’d learned and shared songs and dances with their adoring parents and caregivers, who gathered to watch the festivities.

sunrise ECDC parentsIn speeches, the local leadership voiced their support towards the continued growth of the Center. The parent representative exclaimed “Thank you so much Feed the Children for making sure our kids are fed at school!”

One Feed the Children staffer observed of the mood of the children on their special day: “Their faces were visibly excited. It was a happy day to rejoice in the voices of the children and their hope!”

Following a beautiful ceremony of dance and skits and crowned with a football (soccer) tournament that was arranged by the youth of Twonokun; community members entertained parents.

The day concluded with the official dedication of the school. The centre also serves as a day care centre for other families which means that children of less than 3 years also have access to porridge and a lunch meal!

We are thankful that we can participate in the joy of making moments like these happen in Uganda. We know that as they study hard, even with the challenges, that their future is bright. Congratulations, graduates!

Christmas Cheer in Honduras

Throughout the world, we champion children. We work with teachers, principals, mayors and religious leaders to help children thrive in their schools, homes and communities.

But did you know that we run two full-time residential centers in Kenya and Honduras for boys and girls who are abandoned or whose parents are unable to care for them?

When it is possible, we seek to reunite children with their families. But many of the kids continue to be under our supervision until they turn 18. What a great responsibility it is to care for them; for they are ours!

DSC_0526For this reason, our President and CEO, Kevin Hagan feels it is important for him to celebrate Christmas at these two centers every December. He wants the kids to know the joy of Christmas like all kids should!

Recently, we told you about Kevin’s visit to Kenya, but today we want to share more about the Christmas celebrations at Casa del Nino in La Ceiba, Honduras.

At Casa del Nino, Feed the Children Honduras cares for 35 boys from age 7-17 every day of the year. Some of these boys have come to us through Honduran social services. Others have come through referrals in communities where we work. But together they have formed a family.

IMG_2194And one of the year’s highlights for the boys of Casa del Nino is the annual Christmas celebration.

On Wednesday, December 17, the boys and staff,  Regional Director for Latin American operations Francisco Torres and Kevin and his wife, Elizabeth Hagan gathered around tables in the courtyard of Casa del Nino for gift giving, music and a Christmas feast.

Each boy asked for just one present. They were elated to receive their single gift –simply new shoes to play soccer or a remote control car.

Before dinner, the boys shared prayers, songs and even a skit with the group. They expressed their appreciation to all the Feed the Children donors for giving them a safe place to call home over the last year.

Christmas dinner was extra special because it was prepared by some of the older boys themselves. These boys are interested in becoming chefs when they grow up, and we’ve enrolled them in culinary classes for the last five months.

So, with some assistance from their teachers, the boys prepared a traditional Honduran Christmas meal: tamales, chicken and pork, yellow rice, potatoes, tomato, pepper and cucumber salad and rolls.

After dinner, each boy and staff member received a glow stick necklace and bracelet! As you can see the boys posed proudly for pictures with them on.

Even though it soon started raining, joy at Casa del Nino was uncontainable. They played with their new toys. They laughed and laughed with the staff members. And they gave Kevin Hagan lots of hugs. Even one boy said, “Thanks for remembering us at Christmas. It feels good that we aren’t forgotten.”

IMG_1736 2A DJ later played some traditional Honduran Christmas songs and the group danced and danced and danced. Some of the boys had their faces painted. The staff joined in with the children as well. One staff member later remarked, “This is what Christmas is really all about!”

Their faces overflowed with gratitude for such a fun Christmas celebration. Thank you Feed the Children donors and child sponsors for making moments like this possible.IMG_9014

Championing Children in Haiti

Today we bring you a guest post from Jennifer Brandt who blogs over at Perfectly Disheveled about her work with Feed the Children last year and how she brought home the message of gratitude to her kids.

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Exactly two years ago this week, I came home from a 3 day trip to Haiti on a mission with Ladies’ Home Journal, Crocs Cares, and Feed the Children to deliver shoes to school children. It was the best time of my life and the worst time of my life. To travel so far and literally outside my comfort zone to a world I would have never imagined traveling to, and to be in a position to take some part (albeit, small) in helping children in need: The Best.

The worst: To be so far away from home and to know that when I do get home, teaching my child what gratitude really is, in a world where “I’m bored,” “Can I download”,” Can I have” is a part of daily dialogue and ignored because “He’s 7, so…,” or  “If you do X, you can have X,” or “Here, I’m tired…” And the list goes on…

Forget all the “how-to parent/breastfeed/make them sleep” books I’ve read or the “here’s how they should eat” classes I’ve taken. It’s become clear to me that THIS, teaching gratitude will be the biggest challenge I have as a parent. Which even when you think about, is LUCKY.

A woman a traveled to Haiti with from Feed the Children told me about their Sponsor a Child program that they’re working hard to raise awareness of. For $30 a month, a donation will:

-help provide nutritious and hot food for a child

-access to safe, clean water

-education and school supplies

-medical care

DSC00835

Tonight I shared my goal of gratitude and giving with Jonah. Although I don’t know that he gets the severity of what true need means quite yet, I do feel like something resonated with him when we looked through the pictures of the children from all the different countries and could put names with the faces. He liked the idea of helping a specific child and he liked the idea that through Feed the Children, we can actually correspond with the child and get updates on their well-being. He kept going back to a boy in Malawi, exactly 3 months older than Jonah… he has no running water or electricity in his home but one day he wants to become President.

As I tucked J into bed tonight, he asked me if Malawi has a rich president. “Why?” I asked. “Because if he is rich, he needs to give people jobs. Have them build things. Like pipes and filters. Run the water to their houses. Someone needs to make a better system.”  Yep. They sure do.

To read her full post on Haiti head to her website.

Defeating Hunger for Thousands of Kids in Philippines After Typhoon

DSCN6458Imagine you are 8 years old living in Cebu. And your mom tells you that another big storm is about to hit your island, like last year.

You’d wonder about what might happen to your toys.

You’d wonder if the waters would get too high.

You’d wonder if you’d have a house to go home to when the storm passed.

And then the rains start and the winds come. Imagine how scared you’d feel and how worried you’d be about your friends, down the street.

DSCN6441When morning came, what would your street look like? What about your school? And your friends’ houses?

This is the reality for so many kids in the Philippines right now.

No water. No power. Destroyed homes and schools.

Today, the worst may be over for the kids in the Philippines as Typhoon Hagupit (locally name “Ruby”) ravaged central islands for days, but the challenge to feed thousands of children and family members is beginning to hound the country.

In Northern Cebu, though families started returning to their homes Monday, many houses were totally destroyed still remained at evacuation centers needing food and other assistance.

Many families who thought the worse couldn’t happen to them again are now facing their worst fears.

IMG_0721The good news is that thanks to our generous donors, Feed the Children started providing hot meals fortified with VitaMeal in evacuation centers of Bogo, Cebu, while simultaneously conducting rapid disaster needs and assessment to other hit areas of Northern Cebu.

Kids in the streets and at community gathering points are being greeted by loving Feed the Children staff. Working around the clock, our staff is encouraging kids that through the gift of a hot meal they are seen. They are cared for. And together, one step at a time, life will be better.

One thing is for sure: recovery in the Philippines will be a long process.

Few families have back up plans for what to do when the little bit of food they have runs out.

Although most parents and kids in the areas of Tabogon and Daan Bantayan, Cebu were no longer in evacuation centers as of Monday afternoon, there is still the need to distribute emergency food packs.

Most families’ whose livelihood relies on fishing were unable to go out fishing since Thursday and farmers were unable to harvest crops and fruits.

The Philippine government has yet to release official total damage assessments but has declared 7 regions to be under a state of calamity including Metro Manila, the capital City.

IMG_0746Feed the Children has worked in the Philippines for the last 25 years, and we are here to stay. We will continue to distribute emergency aid until it is no longer needed, one child, one mother, one father at a time.

Help us help kids recover from this storm. Join us in the fight to defeat hunger for kids right now in the Philippines.

Typhoon Hagupit hits the Philippines

Another potentially devastating Typhoon has landed in the Central Philippines where thousands of families were displaced by Super Typhoon Haiyan last November.

Typhoon Hagupit (locally known in the Philippines as Typhoon Ruby) has slowed as it moves over land, which can create major flooding from the heavy rainfall, in addition to potentially damaging strong winds. Communication lines and electricity have been damanged and roads are impassable around the affected areas of Dolores and Cataingan. The extent of the typhoon’s impact remains unclear.

Before the typhoon made landfall, some 717,000 people were pre-emptively evacuated. An estimated 133,000 families are staying in 1,758 evacuation centers across the affected regions.

Our staff will be regularly checking with community leaders in the local communities we serve. Mobile kitchens will be established in affected areas, providing hot food fortified with VitaMeal. Bags of rice and bottled water will also be provided to children and families.

The Feed the Children team in the Philippines is planning to initially establish disaster response feeding stations in two provinces (Bohol and Cebu) to prepare hot, nutritious meals using VitaMeal, mixed with rice, milk, chocolate powder and sugar.

We’re working closely with local leaders, parents in the communities affected as well as groups trained and formed by Feed the Children Philippines, along with local government units and public schools. It’s expected that up to 30,000 persons will need 150,000 meals as a direct response.

In other areas that may be severely impacted by Typhoon Hagupit/Ruby – namely in the provinces of Masbate, Leyte and Samar) Feed the Children will mobilize to establish additional disaster response feeding stations. It’s forecasted the worst hit areas of the Samar provinces will need 107 feeding stations. A total of ten partner organizations are expected to assist us with those efforts.

Information on additional disaster response plans will be updated into next week once an assessment of the situation is completed.

If you would like to support our organization as we provide relief after this storm, please visit www.feedthechildren.org/hagupit.

Typhoon Hagupit puts Feed the Children Philippines on alert

Another potentially devastating Typhoon has landed in the Central Philippines where thousands of families were displaced by Super Typhoon Haiyan last November.

Typhoon Hagupit (locally known in the Philippines as Typhoon Ruby) has slowed as it moves over land, which can create major flooding from the heavy rainfall, in addition to potentially damaging strong winds.

Feed the Children is preparing for a potential worst case scenario. Here are some important pieces of information about how we will respond.

Our staff will be regularly checking with community leaders in the local communities we serve. Mobile kitchens will be established in affected areas, providing hot food fortified with VitaMeal. Bags of rice and bottled water will also be provided to children and families.

The Feed the Children team in the Philippines is planning to initially establish disaster response feeding stations in two provinces (Bohol and Cebu) to prepare hot, nutritious meals using VitaMeal, mixed with rice, milk, chocolate powder and sugar.

We’re working closely with local leaders, parents in the communities affected as well as groups trained and formed by Feed the Children Philippines, along with local government units and public schools. It’s expected that up to 30,000 persons will need 150,000 meals as a direct response.

In other areas that may be severely impacted by Typhoon Hagupit/Ruby – namely in the provinces of Leyte and Samar) Feed the Children will mobilize to establish additional disaster response feeding stations. It’s forecasted the worst hit areas of the Samar provinces will need 107 feeding stations. A total of ten partner organizations are expected to assist us with those efforts.

Information on additional disaster response plans will be updated into next week once an assessment of the situation is completed.

If you would like to support our organization as we provide relief after this storm, please visit www.feedthechildren.org/hagupit.

 

Foundation 4Life Scholarship Helps Students Like Bea Excel

Imagine growing up in a remote village for your entire life, and then boarding an airplane, flying to a different country, and staying in a hotel for the very first time, to give a speech to nearly 3,000 people. That’s what Bea Bianca Flora, a 7th grade student in the Philippines, did last month.

Bea is one of five students identified by Feed the Children to receive a scholarship from Foundation 4Life, one of Feed the Children’s longtime partners in that country. It pays for school and also provides a monthly stipend so she doesn’t have to work and can focus intently on her studies.

Bea Flora has received a school scholarship from Foundation 4Life for two years.  She is a bright girl, having been elected as one of the officers of the Supreme pupil council in her school. Her aspirations are big – she wants to become a civil engineer so she can design and construct houses for poor families like hers and others in her community. Both she and her mother are overwhelmed with gratitude for this gift.

Bea in the conference hotel with her mom Odessa

Bea said, “It is a great opportunity to receive assistance which helps me pursue my education because my family faces financial struggles to send me to school.”

Foundation 4Life flew Bea and her mother, Odessa to their Asia Convention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia so that she could share her story and meet some of the 4Life family that provides her with her scholarship.  Foundation 4Life donors love these conventions because they get to meet the children whose lives are completely changed by their generous donations. They get to connect with the work that is taking place around the world through the stories they hear from children sponsored by Foundation 4Life’s projects.  And the children get to feel and receive the love and support of these amazing donors.

In addition to creating stronger connections between the children and the 4Life family, 4Life believes that travel is an opportunity for these children to expand their minds and see new possibilities that exist in the world around them.

Bea gives her speech

During the two-day convention, Bea gave her speech on stage, complete with bright lights and a huge audience. She overcame her nerves and shared her touching story with poise and confidence. Afterwards, she and her mother felt like celebrities, but her favorite part was the closing dance party.

Bea enjoying the dance party

4Life looks forward to following Bea’s progress through school. They want to see her reach her goals, and they plan to host her and the other scholarship recipients at future events designed to keep the children motivated and filled with hope.

Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life

By November 2, American kids have stuffed their costumes—worn for one thrilling night—down into their dress-up boxes. They’ve sorted and traded their treats and have eaten their favorites first. But as kids in America wind down from their Halloween highs, kids in Nicaragua are just starting their fun. Today, they celebrate life on Day of the Dead.

Meet Jennifer

Twelve-year-old Jennifer lives in El Crucero, an urban area of Nicaragua. She earns a scholarship to attend seventh grade at a private school by helping out at a community preschool. After school, she goes to the Feed the Children facilities in her community, where she takes computer, music, English, and piano classes. Computer class is her favorite—she’s very tech savvy, and she wants to become a business administrator when she grows up because she’d like to work in an office and have her own employees. Jennifer has aspirations and drive—all she needs is opportunity. So that’s what we offer.

Unlike so many of the kids Feed the Children works with around the world, Jennifer has actually seen enough of what life can be to know what it should be.

Jennifer’s mom has a bachelor’s degree in marketing, but jobs are incredibly difficult to come by where they live, even for educated people, so right now she stays at home taking care of Jennifer’s 5-year-old twin sisters and the family’s small house. Jennifer’s dad went to school through sixth grade, and he works as a driver for a private company, earning about $152 a month to support their family of 5.

Jennifer’s family is Catholic, so Day of the Dead, commemorated on November 2 every year, is always a special religious holiday for them—but this year, it really hits close to home.

Jennifer has found her smileiagain

Celebrating Day of the Dead in Jennifer’s Community

In El Crucero, Day of the Dead is a big deal to everyone—the government and private companies usually give employees a half- or full-day off. Contrary to what the name may conjure for Americans, Day of the Dead isn’t a sad day for Nicaraguans—it’s a day to remember and celebrate the good moments spent with loved ones who have passed away.

At the entrance to the cemetery in El Crucero stands a white statue of Jesus, his arms wide open as if to welcome the people who arrive there. Almost all of the headstones are very humble and modest, but on Day of the Dead, the cemetery is full of color and life.

Vendors set up stalls just outside the cemetery to sell hydrangeas—which you can see growing wild throughout El Crucero— lilies, daisies, and other local flowers for people to adorn the graves with.

Improvised food stands appear, too, as people are always looking for a way to make extra income amidst the difficult economic situation. The stands are full of Nicaraguan cuisine: vigoron (a cabbage salad), chicharrones (fried pork skin wrapped in banana leaf), and chancho con yucca (fried pork with boiled yucca, topped with tomato, onions, cabbage, and chili marinade). And some families bring as tradition their own sweets, like buñuelos (sweet yucca fritters) or sopas borrachas (“drunken soup,” a rum-laced simple syrup cake), to enjoy during the day.

Families freshen the graves, removing weeds, setting out new flowers, lighting candles, and repainting the headstones. Some families will spend the day in the cemetery, filling it with the sounds of music from their guitars or radios—or, if the family can afford it, Mariachis will play the favorite songs of the one who has passed—laughter, and stories of the memories they hold dear. And if families request it, priests will conduct masses, and the sound of prayers floats heavenward.

Jennifer at her home in El Crucero

Jennifer Remembers Her Aunt

The public transportation in El Crucero is officially named Inter-local, but people have nicknamed it Inter-mortales (“Inter-lethal”) because high speeds and reckless drivers cause such frequent traffic accidents. This year, a dear aunt of Jennifer’s passed away in a terrible accident on the main road of El Crucero.

Dora Graciela and her 5-year-old son were passengers on the motorcycle that her husband was driving. They stopped for a moment and parked on the side of the road, when suddenly they were hit by a truck driven by a drunk man who had fallen asleep behind the wheel. Both her husband and son survived, but Dora Graciela did not.

Jennifer’s aunt was only 33 years old. She was a lawyer, a mommy, a wife, and, to Jennifer, the best aunt a girl could have. Jennifer was Dora’s favorite niece, and Dora liked to treat her by buying her clothes and spending time together, like the day they went window-shopping at the malls in Managua.

Jennifer says, “On Day of the Dead we remember our loved ones and miss them. In my family we pray the rosary and pray for our relatives that have passed away. It was very difficult for us this year—we felt a deep grief for the death of my aunt Dora Graciela. The death of a loved one is very painful because you wish this would never happen to any family member.”

Jennifer is continuing with her life by playing music

Jennifer Keeps on Living

Feed the Children’s programs are all designed to help kids be kids. That means we look out for their total well-being from physical, to educational, to emotional. So when her teachers noticed Jennifer was really affected by her aunt’s death, Jairo Garcia, a psychologist who is a specialist in childhood and youth psychopathology, began working with her to help her overcome her grief.

Dr. Garcia says, “Feed the Children has been concerned about the mental state of children that attend our program, so I worked with Jennifer regarding the mourning she faced in the first weeks after the death of her family member, expressing to her that people we love never die, that they stay alive forever in our hearts. And we have had good results because now her smile, which was gone in the beginning, has come back.”

Despite her loss, Jennifer has kept up her good grades at school, she enjoys going to her afterschool classes at Feed the Children, and she is focused on studying hard to achieve her dreams. She misses her aunt but she knows Dora would want her to get the very best out of life.

“There are so many needs here—there are no jobs, the economic situation is difficult, some houses don’t have electricity or piped water, and that is an issue in this community. There are some small kids that don’t go to school, so I am going to study harder and to prepare myself better in order to achieve my dream to become a business administrator so my parents and my aunt Dora, who is in heaven now, can be proud of me.”

On Day of the Dead, Jennifer celebrates Dora’s life. And every day, with the help of Feed the Children’s partners and donors, she works hard to build her own.

New Feeding Center Opens in Honduras Thanks to the Band Sister Hazel and Their Fans

We have long been partners with the band Sister Hazel. They make a unique kind of music that blends country and rock’n’roll harmonies with Southern pop. They’ve dubbed their fans “Hazelnuts” and for several years now, the guys in the band and their fans have sponsored children in Honduras.

Children Living In a Dump

Three years ago, Sister Hazel visited the community where their sponsored children live. Los Laureles is situated at the base of a huge dump which young and old alike scour for plastic and metal items to sell to recycling. Most of the homes are built out of garbage: nylon, cardboard, tin sheets and any other material they can find. Very few houses are built with cement blocks. Some of the houses are built high up on a plateau of the community, and because of the uneven and steep terrain, are very difficult to get to. None of these homes have indoor plumbing.

rough uneven terrain

Before Feed the Children arrived here, food supplies were very irregular. A church would provide 2 meals a week, and the government distributed some basic staples like rice, corn, and beans, but done in very basic conditions. The kids were malnourished, anemic, and riddled with parasites.

We asked a mom about what those days were like. Gennis is the mother of 5, including a first-grader named Kimberly. Gennis explained, “My children many times attended classes with only one cup of coffee in their stomach because I didn’t have anything else to give.”

Feed the Children’s Work with Los Laureles

Before Sister Hazel adopted the community in 2012, Feed the Children had worked for several years with help from generous partners, including TOMSVitamin Angels, and others, to provide nourishing food, medical care, vitamins, backpacks and school supplies, clothes and shoes, and improvements to the school facilities.

When Sister Hazel visited, they connected with the people of Los Laureles in such a profound way that the guys returned to the USA fired up about doing something BIG to help the community become independent.

Two years ago, Sister Hazel challenged the Hazelnuts to do two things: sponsor every one of the 221 children in Los Laureles, a goal they reached in December 2013, and raise the $75,000 needed to build a real feedingcenter for the community. This new facility will be a sturdy and permanent building with a steady supply of safe drinking water, a real kitchen, and soap and water for basic hygiene.

The Hazelnuts came through in a BIG way. Within a year, they’d raised the money!

In December 2013, our president and CEO Kevin Hagan, along with his wife Elizabeth, visited Los Laureles for the groundbreaking of the new feeding center.

Today, we are thrilled to announce that the new center is open! Sister Hazel returned to the community to witness the transformation there and to celebrate the feeding center’s grand opening.

Grand Opening Festivities

ribbon cutting at the feeding center

sister hazel tshirt frontthanks sister hazel and donors

 

 

karen sees a camera

moms in the new kitchen

water purifier in feeding center

kids in the new feeding center

If you’re familiar with Sister Hazel, or if you want to get to know their music, they’re releasing a special anniversary collection to celebrate 20 years of award-winning music. The album, 20 STAGES, includes live recordings, videos culled from 20 of the band’s favorite venues, and 3 brand new, never released tracks. 20 Stages is available now on iTunes & Amazon, in select Best Buy stores as well as Sister Hazel’s official online merch store