Standing with Children Affected by HIV

Today is Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS Day. Begun in 2005 by UNICEF, this global campaign shows others what HIV/ AIDS does to the innocent children born into the disease, and how to minimize and prevent that harm.

The World Health Organization states that “HIV/AIDS remains one of the world’s most significant public health challenges, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.” The latest report published in 2013 says that 35 million people are living with HIV around the world, and of those, approximately 3.2 million are kids.

Some of the children in our programs are living with HIV, either because their own status is positive or because one or both of their parents are HIV positive. Today, we unite with those children, and with our colleagues around the world, against HIV/AIDS.

A significant proportion of those we see living with HIV live in Kenya. Our health officers work hard to end the spread of HIV especially among mothers and children in this East African nation, where at least 200,000 children are currently living with HIV. The disease has orphaned another estimated 100,000 under the age of 17. (Source)

Abandoned Babies Center

Many of the children admitted into our Abandoned Babies and Children Center in Nairobi come from families ravaged by HIV, and many carry the virus in their own bodies.

We often take in very sick children abandoned at our doorstep or referred to us by the police. We provide medical care, protection, and proper nutrition and even the most hopelessly sick of these kids begin to grow.

One of the boys living in the ABC Center was abandoned by his family when he was around 9 years old because they learned he was HIV positive. Today he’s ten and thriving under the care of Feed the Children staff. He goes to school and plays soccer with his new friends. We hope one day to reunite him with his family.

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Livelihood Projects

Being HIV positive in Kenya carries a nearly-insurmountable stigma, especially for women and mothers who often can’t find jobs to support their families. When their parents can’t provide life’s basic necessities, children lose that trademark of childhood – dreams for the future. Their hope is devoured by hunger and the desperate struggle to find the next small meal. They can’t attend school without money to pay the school fees, nor can they get any medical attention when they get sick.

Feed the Children’s Livelihood projects in Kenya focus on equipping women who are living with HIV/AIDS with skills and income-earning activities. To date, we’re working with 15 groups of approximately 25 women each from different slums in Nairobi.

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In these groups, women learn and then teach each other valuable skills like making soap, working with tie-dye, crafting jewelry, and making purses. They sell their products to visitors in the Feed the Children office in Nairobi. We ship many of these items to our retail store in Oklahoma City. The ladies also have the option to sell the products on their own in tourist areas.

One of the women positively glowed as she talked about how her life has changed since she joined the group. “When we were trained, I liked the beadwork the best. When we sold the items, I was very happy to receive money, and I decided to invest in beadwork. Now I make bangles, Christmas cards, Easter cards, necklaces with different designs and so many beautiful things. With my acquired skills, I don’t have a problem at all getting food like I used to.”

When you support our international programs, including child sponsorship, you help sustain these Care Groups as they equip mothers to provide for their own children. Empowering women ensures that their children thrive.

This work is changing lives, both of children and their parents who are affected by HIV.

“Feed the Children has actually healed me . . . I was so down, hopeless and just didn’t know what to do with my life. I was hiding from the world because of my status. I really want to thank Feed the Children for the skills training that they imparted to me and other ladies in a similar situation.”

Unite with children against HIV/AIDS .

In our gift catalog, you can give care for one of our abandoned babies in Kenya for a year.

Choose handwashing, choose health — Global Handwashing Day 2014

Today marks Global Handwashing Day. Begun in 2008 by The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW) with support from the United Nations, today over 200 million people in 100 different countries will commemorate the day with educational celebrations. Their goals are to:

  • Foster and support a global culture of handwashing with soap
  • Shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing in every country
  • Raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap

Kenya - girls washing hands

Every year, 1.7 million children do not live to celebrate their 5th birthday because of the devastating affects of diarrhea and pneumonia.  Handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrheal diseases and pneumonia.  This simple behavior can save lives, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost one-half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by nearly one-quarter.

Feed the Children is happy to join in these celebrations throughout the world so that even more kids can reach their 5th birthday and beyond!

These are some of our plans for celebration in Africa.

Kenya

In Kajiado County, Feed the Children will partner with teachers and school administrators at Kajiado Township Primary School in Kajiado County to talk to the children about the use of soap.

Children get handwashing lessons in the Dagoretti Center, Kenya

Children get handwashing lessons in the Dagoretti Center, Kenya

In Turkana County, Feed the Children will join partner at Lorugum sub-county headquarters to mark the day with handwashing demonstrations while in Nairobi County, personnel from government ministries and our staff will visit six schools under the school meals program to provide similar lessons on handwashing.

Our staff that serves at the Dagoretti Children Centre (DCC) in Nairobi will hear a presentation from our on-site nurses. The nurses will share tips with the childcare workers, not only for handwashing, but also how to prevent the Ebola virus.

If you would like to invest in educating more people about preventing Ebola, learn more here.

Malawi

In the Rumphi district in the northern region of Malawi, the district Council and other partners will join Feed the Children to commemorate the day through a Global Sanitation FUND project. Feed the Children is also contributing financial resources toward the events.

An outdoor handwashing station in Uganda

The Global Sanitation FUND project in Malawi is one of many that teaches children and families about the benefits of handwashing all year, not just on one day. In every one of the 847 communities we support in this country, we have installed handwashing stations and toilets. We are teaching the value of cleanliness and have installed handwashing facilities outside each of the toilets so that children learn from a young age the value of washing their hands.

Eliya washes his hands after using the toilet at his parents’ home in Central Malawi. Image Credit FEED THE CHILDREN/AMOS GUMULIRA, October 9, 2014
Eliya washes his hands after using the toilet at his parents’ home in Central Malawi. Image Credit FEED THE CHILDREN/AMOS GUMULIRA, October 9, 2014

Another way we make sure everyone learns how to wash their hands properly is through our Care Groups, a model originally developed in Mozambique by another organization and pioneered by our Chief Program Officer and others. Through Care Groups, the average improvement in handwashing behavior increases twice as fast as it does with any other approach.

The Care Groups model helps communities take on some of the responsibility for lifting themselves out of poverty, empowering people to contribute their own time and resources to the work. In this model, we work with communities to form a “Neighbor Circle” of 12 households, each of which selects a member to be their “Care Group Volunteer.” All of the Care Group Volunteers meet regularly for training from Feed the Children, and then in turn pass along the training to other households in their Neighbor Circle. In a Care Group program that one of our staff members supported, malnutrition dropped by 38% in less than two years and child deaths dropped 29%!

Kenya - boy shows clean hands after washing

Through these Care Groups we have educated communities on the importance of hand washing with soap at all critical times, including before and after eating or serving food, after changing a baby’s diaper, and after handling food.

We have seen an improvement in handwashing behavior in most of the communities we are working with. Handwashing with soap is still a challenge in some communities, but with repetitive teaching, we are making great progress and fewer kids are getting sick.

Happy Global Handwashing Day, everyone!

 

How We Make Sure Kids Do Not Get Hungry Again

This is the last in a four-part series introducing you to our proactive, sustainable approach to ending poverty and improving lives. Our Four Pillars of international community development — Food & NutritionHealth & Water,  Education, and Livelihoods — comprise an 8- to 10-year integrated program that equips and empowers impoverished families and communities to achieve self-sufficiency.

Today we’ll take a look at the Livelihoods pillar, where we work toward positive, lasting change by helping parents and kids learn new and better ways to make money—because that feeds their whole future.

Why livelihoods?

The fight against childhood hunger isn’t just about stopping kids’ bellies from growling. Feed the Children provides programming to help expand parents’ sources of income—from sales of small livestock, participating in savings groups, and other means—so they can provide their children with food, life essentials, and a future.

Our programs also help communities make improvements in gender equality (like helping more girls attend school and reducing domestic violence), environmental stewardship (like planting trees to reverse deforestation), and disaster risk reduction (like training community leaders to develop disaster prevention and response plans).

***

They say if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. At Feed the Children, we want to do both—feed kids who are hungry now and give them tools so they won’t go hungry again.

Sometimes, we actually do this with fish—like in El Salvador and the Philippines, where tilapia sells at high demand in local markets. We give families a kit with everything they need to begin the cycle of fish production, including a tilapia pond, fingerlings, and fish food, and we provide education on the best way to care for them. Raising tilapia gives the family their own nutritious food and an income.

Women in El Salvador preparing tilapia to be sold

Sometimes neighbors do this for each other. Our animal gifts—including tilapia, chickens, bees, cows, and goats—are also an incredible way for families to help strengthen their own communities through a pay-it-forward system.

And sometimes, a couple of goats help a devoted dad keep his family going.

Etani’s mother died when he was just four months old. In Malawi, it’s not uncommon for a widower to ask his relatives to keep his orphaned* children, but Etani’s dad wouldn’t have it. Maxon wanted to take full responsibility for his son.

Now 3-year-old Etani has a step-mom to help take care of him, but that’s not the only blessing that’s arrived for the little boy and his family.

When Etani was 2, he began attending a community-based childcare center, where he regularly received nutritious meals fortified with the VitaMeal we provide. But the solution to childhood hunger can’t just be to serve meals—we have to provide opportunities for families to become self-sufficient or else the cycle of poverty will continue.

And in Malawi, that’s where Feed the Children’s Tiwalere OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) project comes in. With funding from USAID, Tiwalere has multiple initiatives that build the capacity of communities and households to effectively and sustainably meet the health and nutritional needs of children under 5.

While Etani was coming to the center for meals, the staff identified him as an orphan and vulnerable child and determined that they could do more to help. They registered his household for the Tiwalere OVC project, and that has made all the difference.

Part of this project is the Goat Pass-On initiative, which promotes not only nutritional feeding in OVC households, but also increases their household income levels. And of course, it means each family gets to help others by passing on more goats!

When Tiwalere was distributing the goats, Etani’s family got two females, and one of them was already pregnant. Five months later, that goat gave birth to two female kids. Soon the other goat gave birth to a female kid, too. After one year, the first goat to deliver gave birth again, this time to two male kids.

boys and their goat
Etani and his brother outside their house taking care of the goats

In just one year, Etani’s family went from having hardly a thing to their name to owning 7 goats.

When the first two female kids were ready for the pass-on, another family got the same opportunity, and Etani’s family kept the other five goats. Then the growing season came. Maxon had cultivated one acre where he wanted to grow maize, a staple food in Malawi, but he didn’t have enough money to afford a bag of fertilizer. That year he didn’t benefit from the government’s subsidy program either. But Maxon had another option – he sold one of his goats to buy the fertilizer he needed.

Maxon is confident that he will harvest at least 10 bags of maize this year. And he’s overcome with joy when he looks at his field: “My children will have enough food this year—something which I have not managed to achieve in the past years—thanks to Feed the Children.”

And Etani? When he’s not playing outside with his family’s goats, he is working hard in pre-school, dreaming of being a police office er when he grows up, and staying busy just being a kid.

Love this project? Give a goat today!

*Unlike in the U.S., where children are only considered orphans if both parents have died, children in Malawi who have lost one parent are considered orphans; if both parents have died, the child is called a double-orphan.

Beginnings: Exploring Work North Korea Part 2

Recently, we shared an interview with you about a trip that Corey Gordon, our Chief Marketing Officer took to North Korea. He traveled to this place that few Americans ever visit. He explored the possibility of feeding hungry children in this country. In July, Corey traveled again to North Korea to meet with more government leaders and see the results of our first shipment of food into the country. We thought you would like to hear this update on his trip and the work we are doing.

Feed the Children: What did you do on this trip to North Korea?
CG: I traveled to North Korea to validate with my own eyes, the Vitameal distribution. My guides took me to 9 different orphanages. One day I also visited a children’s hospital and a physical rehabilitation center.

I also had several meetings with higher-level officials, including those with the Korea Education Fund (KEF), an internationally recognized NGO established by their leader, Kim Jung Un. KEF’s mission is to ensure the feeding, education and health of the childen in North Korea. Here, I was able to meet with and have a really productive conversation with their president and their senior program manager. We discussed partnering together, and how best to work in conjunction with the governmental agency that oversees Feed the Children’s involvement in the North Korea.

Feed the Children: What did the North Koreans think of the shipment of Vitameal?IMG_0053

CG: We couldn’t have picked a better product to send than Vitameal. Everyone I met with, the orphange directors, the doctors at the larger orphanges, the government officials, the team from KEF, were all very supportive and saw the value of the protein and nutrients in the Vitameal for the kids.

We knew this would be far more nutritious than just sending rice, with the added vitamins and minerals necessary for the healthy development of the kids. However, what we didn’t know at the time was the cultural good we were also doing.

Rice is cliché in Asian cuisine – everybody eats rice. But if you go to a nice restaurant and ask for rice, they don’t just give you plain white rice. You get something else mixed into it – other grains or beans, which is a sign of higher level in society. Vitameal is a combination of lentils, barley, and rice, and they mixed it into the rice they already had. So this made the children’s meal more like a special treat or occasion. Needless to say, they are very eager to receive more. They also told me countless times how thankful they were that Feed the Children followed through on its promise. It added greatly to our credibility that we made good on our commitment, before going back there.IMG_0022

Feed the Children: Did you see anything else interesting on your trip?

CG: My guides wanted me to see more of their country, to learn more about their history and culture, things that made them proud of their country.

I visited Kaesong, the cultural historical birthplace of Korea, the home of the Koryo dynasty. I love history, so it was fascinating to see things that were 1000-1200 years old. I was also given a tour of the birthplace of Kim Il Sun, which holds as much honor to them as we would view Mount Vernon.

I traveled to Panmunjom, which is the actual border between north and south (not the demilitarized zone). DPRK soldiers escorted me right up to the border itself. And I saw the building where the UN and Allied troops met with the DPRK leaders and where they signed the armistice. Everything was there just as if the meeting took place yesterday! I even sat in the chair where the UN negotiators sat to work out the deal.

Feed the Children: What were some aspects of your time in North Korea that surprised you this time?

CG: Even after visiting once, I didn’t realize how many preconceived notions I had about North Korea. I was very humbled by that, as I had considered myself to be fairly balanced and open-minded.

Probably what surprised me the most was the level of criticism directed towards American NGOs. I had expected there would be such towards the U.S. goverment, but it’s pretty evident that they don’t think much of the arrogance and tactics of American NGOs and visitors.

IMG_0123Unfortunately, the perception of the “Ugly American” is still very much alive internationally, with our seeming belief that we have all the answers and can solve all the world’s problems. Yet they can just as clearly see that we have our own issues and sins as well. I reiterated over and over that we would not be there to be critical and judgmental, we would always be respectful guests and partners.

Feed the Children: What are your hopes for Feed the Children’s relationship with North Korea in the future?

CG: Working in North Korea is very much a step-by-step process, as we continue to work hard to establish credibility and trust, both ways. Kim Jung Un recently visited an orphanage himself, and was quoted as saying, “Children are the king of this country.” That statement clearly highlights that the North Korean leaders really do want to help their children, but just need help to do so. Our response – a second shipment of Vitameal arrives into North Korea this week, with the next container to be shipped at the end of the month. These shipments cost us $5,000 per container, so if you look at it from a per serving basis, that’s less than 3 cents per meal. It’s such a small cost for making a huge impact on the future of so many children!IMG_0134

Beyond providing food, the North Korean officials have already authorized us to begin bringing into the country deworming medicines and Vitamin A, as we look to expand our work to focus on the health of the children. As funding continues to be available, we are looking forward to a long-term relationship with our North Korean partners, expanding the type of products we can send to help more kids.

To help futher this work, I will be traveling to South Korea this week, where I will be meeting with a number of potential board members and supporters and moving forward with the launch of Feed the Children Korea. Our office in Seoul will direct our programmatic work in South Korea, as well as help support the work in North Korea. Our goal is to have our office up and running by the end of the year, and I hope to return to North Korea in December.

Feed the Children: Feed Futures by Feeding Minds

Malia loves books. While her reading level doesn’t match her age or grade, she digs in with gusto to any book she can get her hands on. When she is actually in class, her teacher can always count on her to curl up with a book any chance she gets.

Malia, her brother, two sisters, and mom are what her school considers to be homeless. The Los Angeles Unified School District’s Homeless Education Program describes the challenges faced by students like her in a letter they wrote to us recently: “High mobility, precarious living conditions, and poverty have an enormous impact on the educational success of our students.”IMG_6090

Malia doesn’t get to attend school every day like the other kids because her address keeps changing, on the days that she actually has an address. Catching the bus to school is nearly impossible. She misses many days of school because it’s just so difficult to get there.

Malia has her days, just like any child, in which she doesn’t want to do the work required of her. But most days, she’d rather be in school. Days outside of class are long, boring, and hungry. The school is cool in summer, warm in winter, and dry in the rain. The bathrooms have hot water, the lights stay on, and she gets to eat a good breakfast and lunch. And it has a library with books she can read for free. Even on a bad day, she has to admit that being at school beats being cooped up inside a car or wandering downtown trying not to attract unwanted attention.

In February, a Feed the Children truck rolled into Malia’s town and unloaded boxes full of backpacks, books, school supplies, hygiene items, and snacks at the school. Staff in the Homeless Education Program began calling students immediately, thrilled to surprise them with brand new backpacks and school supplies.

Malia remembers the day clearly. She had actually made it to class that morning, and the lunch had been a favorite. After the final bell rang, her social worker found her wandering toward the exit, a few papers and a tattered math book thrown into a plastic grocery sack.

“Malia, I have something for you.”

She followed the woman into an office where a beautiful brand-new purple backpack sat on the desk, its girth giving away that it held more than air and some packing paper.

“Open it up!”

Malia unzipped the bag (the zipper worked!) and breathed in the scent of new: crayons, colored and #2 pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, a notebook, folder, pencil pouch, scissors. Two new books to read. TWO! A re-sealable bag with soap, shampoo, comb, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Another smaller bag with granola bars and dried fruit. She couldn’t remember ever having her own brand-new school supplies.

“This is nice. Thank you!”

She tucked the grocery sack and math book into her new backpack, poked her arms through the straps, and walked out of school just like a regular kid. First order of business – find somewhere to curl up with her new books.

***

At Feed the Children, we do just that. We feed children.


But if you’re like many of us, you may be asking yourself, “What do backpacks have to do with feeding? And what happens when the children you feed get hungry again? Is it enough to feed a child today? 

We say, “NO.”

Food for today is essential. People don’t function well when they are hungry, and children struggle to learn when their stomach is growling.

But unless we address the root causes of hunger, we aren’t changing anything.  Children and their families need the skills, education, and resources to provide for themselves and improve both their present and their future.

That’s why we feed futures by feeding minds. Going to school is one of the best ways to help people rise above the cycle of hunger.

But for children without a permanent home, going to and finishing school can seem like an insurmountable challenge. It’s all the more difficult when the adults in their lives can’t provide food on a regular basis, let alone purchase school supplies.

Every year, 1.6 million American children go to sleep without a home of their own. Imagine what their day is like when they wake.

So Feed the Children helps students stay in school by providing them with backpacks full of school supplies and personal care items. Since the launch of our H.E.L.P. (Homeless Education and Literacy Program), we’ve distributed over 700,000 backpacks to children in all 50 states who are homeless.

If feeding children in body and mind gets you jazzed, we’d love to have your help.

You can donate a backpack for a child who is homeless in the U.S.IMG_7445

Or, a Backpack Build event is a fun way for your group or organization to provide hands-on help for at-risk children right in your own community. For far less than retail cost, you can have brand-new backpacks and school supplies delivered to your door. Then gather your group, load up those packs together, and deliver them to local children in need! Contact us for more information.

It All Starts with a Chicken

In order to help kids be kids and not worry about where their next meal comes, we must build sustainable solutions to the root causes of poverty.

We can’t simply feed children. We must teach children how to feed themselves.

To do this, caregivers must learn new skills in how to invest in their children’s future. At Feed the Children this is why our efforts to create new livelihoods in communities where we serve is so important. Sometimes this means teaching better agricultural practices. Sometimes this means offering training in an activity like sewing or bee keeping. Other times it means providing livestock to communities with education on how the products obtained can better kids lives.

Consider Loresho Primary School located in the Westlands Constituency of Nairobi, Kenya.  Located in the heart of the city, this is a school that Feed the Children has a longstanding partnership with. For several years, (thanks to our government advocates and donors) we’ve provided a hot meal for each student every school day. Often times this is the only meal that these children receive all day.

But, more needed to be done. Recently we delivered 500 chicks to the school. Out of the number delivered, 100 were a contribution from parents of the school with the means to do so.

Prior to the delivery, several planning meetings were held between Feed the Children in Kenya and Loresho Primary School Management Committee (SMC) where a memorandum of understanding was signed on each party’s responsibility about the chicken project. Investment in the project was very important from teachers, parents, children, as well as Feed the Children.

image 4Upon delivery, Feed the Children staff placed the chicks in a specially constructed poultry house that is well fitted with infrared lamps in the brooder area to provide a convenient heat source for them.   The brooder area is an enclosure that will serve as the chicks’ home to provide them with a warm environment until they mature.

To ensure the success of the project for the most number of children, the school committed to breed the chicks watching their progress closely. For example, the chickens will receive clean water, proper ventilation, and regularly cleanings by the children.

Looking ahead, it is expected that the chicks will mature and start laying eggs in the next six months.  Feed the Children staff will monitor and support the school until they start laying eggs. Going forward the school will accept responsibility for the the project.

Once the chicks mature and start hatching, the produce will be sold to parents of the school and surrounding community.  Children in the school will also have eggs as part of their school diet.  Proceeds from sales will be used to supplement the purchase of food for the school-feeding program.

This chicken project ensures that the children at Leresho Primary School both have more protein in their diet as well as income for the most nutritious of foods in the future! And other schools in the area are excited about participating!

It’s truly a big win for all the children: one chick at a time.

It’s Who You Know: Poverty and (Lack of) Connections

“It’s who you know” — it’s conventional, nearly cliché advice for succeeding in the workplace and in life. Career counselors, speakers, and advice columnists all say it. Network, meet people, do favors and be helpful so you can ask for favors later. It works, both to get ahead and as a safety net when things go wrong.

When Americans think of being well connected, they think of things like job offers and big breaks — things that grease the wheels and make life in the middle class smoother.

house blog crop

But when you delve into the causes and contributors to poverty, you discover that connections aren’t just a nice-to-have. Knowing the right people protects you from being bullied and taken advantage of by landlords, business people, and employers. It also makes justice more likely — knowing the right people helps encourage the police to listen to and address your complaints when you’re mistreated.

“But,” you may protest, “those of us with means don’t enjoy complete immunity from injustice. We’re still lied to, stolen from, and mistreated by employers.”

That’s true. But we have the resources to defend ourselves and connections to those who can help us. We can rally friends and even get the media’s attention if we need it.

For example, a few years ago, my family had an insurance company try shameful and deceitful tactics to avoid paying a claim. This dragged on for months until we finally threatened to go public. They paid because we had the connections to give that threat teeth. When a friend found herself the target of a frivolous lawsuit, her network quickly produced an attorney who got the lawsuit dismissed pro bono.

Poverty and Lack of Connections

People in poverty don’t have connections.

homeless children begging

It’s hard to say which comes first, the lack of connections, the injustice and abuse, or poverty. But people under the poverty line lack family and friends to turn to when something breaks, a boss treats them unfairly, or a landlord tries to cheat them out of money. It’s a cutthroat world where people don’t play by the rules because no one is there to make them.

The United Nations defines poverty like this: Poverty is “a human condition characterized by the sustained or chronic deprivation of the resources, capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.”

Listen to their stories. You’ll see it — to live in poverty is to live on the edge of catastrophe with no safety net, no recourse, and no back-up plan.

Mala

House in Sri Lanka
House in Sri Lanka

Several years ago, I met Mala in Sri Lanka. She lives at the end of a deeply rutted dirt path a few miles from the nearest real road. She told us through an interpreter how she skipped meals for months to save the money to purchase a piece of land closer to the main road. Moving her family closer to the road would make it easier to get her kids to school, and she knew that was the only way for them to have a better life than she had. But the landowner took her money, and then sold the property to someone else. Mala went to the police, but the landowner paid them to ignore her report. He stole her hard-earned money, and she lost the land.

Mala had everything – the drive and determination, the discipline to save, the savvy to find a piece of property — except one critical ingredient: she didn’t know the right people.

But this doesn’t have to be the story.

One of the most important ways Feed the Children fights poverty is by becoming a connection to resources, safety nets, and justice when it’s needed.

Elena

We help women like Elena. She lives in Honduras with four children, Edwin, Miguel, Francisco, and Leiry. After she was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis, her husband left her and their kids for another woman (he said she complained about bone pain too much!). He refused to send money for the kids, so with a debilitating illness and no recourse to demand child support, she had to send her kids out to work, trying to sell snacks at bus stops. Sometimes they went a week without food.

Today, Leiry is in the fifth grade and thriving
Today, Leiry is in the fifth grade and thriving

But thanks to generous donors who helped start Feed the Children’s feeding programs in Honduras, she was able to get help. Today, one of her sons is grown up, the two other sons are thriving at a residential school for boys, her daughter is finishing 5th grade, and Elena and her daughter receive food and dry rations in exchange for cooking at the local feeding center.

Anne

We also helped Anne, who lives in Kenya with two children, a son and a daughter. Anne’s husband lied to her about a previous marriage and his status as HIV positive. She found out that both she and her son also had HIV when the boy was admitted to the hospital and received a blood test. Fortunately, she learned how to care for herself during pregnancy so her daughter is HIV negative. At age 3, her son lost his sight and shortly after, her husband left her.

Anne and her daughter show the beaded cards Anne creates
Anne and her daughter show the beaded cards Anne creates

Anne went into hiding, ashamed of her HIV status and overwhelmed with her son’s special needs. Without food, without income, and very sick, Anne was desperate. A friend told her that Feed the Children was running a support group for people with HIV and was giving out food. Once she had regained her strength, they invited her to attend weekly meetings where they encouraged the attendees to start doing something that could make money. Anne learned how to make beadwork and today, she makes beautiful pieces that she sells to Feed the Children and to couriers who sell to tourists.

She told us, “At the time when I first met Feed the Children officials, I was so down, hopeless and just didn’t know what to do with my life. Remember, I was hiding from the world because of my status. I didn’t have food or money. I was desperate. Feed the Children gave us food, yes, but what I really want to thank Feed the Children for is the skills training that they imparted on me and other ladies too who were in a similar situation like mine. These business skills are the best. My children never lack food, and they are going to school. Do you know that my special child would never have gone to school?  Feed the Children has gotten me out of poverty. I don’t want my children to be like me. I only studied until sixth grade.”

Anne and kids blog crop

Feed the Children Connects People

When you support Feed the Children, you help connect people like Elena, Mala, and Anne to the resources they need to make a better life. They can’t do it on their own. When kids and their families meet Feed the Children, they finally have someone to turn to and the boost they need to build momentum towards self-sufficiency and away from dependence. We help parents find ways to support themselves so their kids can go to school instead of working. We help kids get the food they need to grow and learn. We help communities become strong enough to help each other so they don’t need us anymore.

You can support schools, livelihoods, and infrastructure like water and sanitation here.

P.S. Want to learn more? Many have documented how important justice is to eliminating poverty. This site by the World Bank discusses the need for justice work around the world, while this video discusses the problem of “one kind of justice for the rich and another for the poor” in the U.S.  Organizations like the Equal Justice Initiative work to make sure that U.S. law enforcement and justice system applies the legal concept of “innocent until proven guilty” consistently no matter a person’s race or socioeconomic status.


 

 

 

Love Notes Delivered, Part Two

Back in February, we asked our readers to post comments of love and support for the children who live in our orphanages in Kenya and Honduras. Your response was amazing! We loved sharing your gifts of words with our children.

A month ago, we posted an update from Kenya showing you some of the beautiful smiles of kids who received your notes. Today, we have photos from letter delivery in Central America.

We support a boys’ orphanage near Barrio Ingles, La Ceiba, Honduras, thanks to our donors. Casa del Niño is a safe home for between 30-40 boys aged 6-17. Here, loving caregivers surround the boys with encouragement. In this home, they can dream about a better life with real hope that it will happen. The boys go to school knowing their school fees will be paid. They come home to a hot meal and clean bathroom. The boys say they love Casa del Niño because, “It’s a place where I’ll always have everything I need.”

With your help, boys like these in Honduras have hope.

Thank you again for sharing your love notes with them! IMG_0652

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Malawi: Something to Be Excited About

A Conversation with Trevor Moe, Senior Director of Government and International Relations

For us at Feed the Children, it’s always exciting to hear stories from the field first hand—whether it is from those who are on the front lines of defeating hunger in communities where we work or from our staff visiting programs in countries different from their own.

Recently, Trevor Moe, Senior Director of Government and International Relations based in Washington DC traveled to Malawi with Edna Onchiri, Public Relations and Communications Manager in Kenya. He came back thrilled about what he saw and experienced, and we thought you’d like to know about it too.

1237155_10201627258700445_1527329178_nBEYOND: Describe your role at Feed the Children and why you visited Malawi this month.

Trevor: In our Washington DC office, I wear a number of hats connected to both our domestic and international program offices. But the two main goals of my position are 1) business development—to help fewer children go to bed hungry around the world 2) public policy—to influence those in positions of leadership to make decisions that care for the most vulnerable among us. I went to Malawi under the umbrella of business development – to find out how we can do our work more effectively there.

In Malawi, our programs receive funding from three sources: corporate donors (we are especially thankful for our partnership with NuSkin), private donors, and U.S. government grants. We received a USAID grant for our work in Malawi that continues through 2015 and recently we received a grant to support some of our water programs.

The scope of my trip focused on how we can continue to be good stewards of all of our partnerships.

BEYOND: What about your visit to Malawi surprised you?

Trevor: I was surprised by how kind and welcoming the people were to me, an outsider. They say that Malawi is the friendliest country in Africa, and now that I’ve been there, I have to agree. Strangers on the street came up to talk, genuinely interested in me and my visit there.

I also was surprised by how devastating the poverty was! The people have so little. Children in Malawi are at risk of dire malnutrition. As a nation, they are eager for help, for knowledge, for methodology—for any wisdom that could improve their lives.

BEYOND: What do you think our donors would most like to know about our work in Malawi?

Trevor: I’ve been a lot of places in the Global South, but what I most want to say is that the work we do in Malawi is wide-reaching and very effective. We serve 842 communities! Feed the Children is fighting hunger all over Malawi in places others are not.

And I learned this: every child who receives deworming medication anywhere in Malawi gets it from Feed the Children. We are on the front lines stomping out hunger. Donors, you should be proud of the world you are creating there!

BEYOND: As you reflect on your trip now, what are the hopes of the people of Malawi? What do they want for their future?

Trevor: I think Malawians want what everybody wants for their lives. They want a better life for their children. They want to know that their kids will be taken care of and have opportunities to grow up strong.

In one of the villages I visited, I met William who is a carver. I asked him what he hoped for and he told me, “I want be able to provide for my family a tin roof.”

I asked, “Why that?”

“A tin roof would keep my wife and my two boys dry during the rainy season.”

He wants a tin roof. That’s all.

BEYOND: Anything else you want to share with us?

Trevor: I love my job. Every day, I’m seeking to connect resources to the Williams of this world. People who have dreams the same as I do and who just want to have a better life.

 

Feeding Minds: How We Are Ending the Cycle of Poverty

This is the third in a four-part series introducing you to our proactive, sustainable approach to ending poverty and improving lives. Our Four Pillars—Food & Nutrition, Health & WaterEducation, and Livelihoods—comprise an 8- to 10-year, integrated program that equips and empowers impoverished families and communities to achieve self-sufficiency.

Today we’ll take a look at the Education pillar, where we work toward positive, lasting change by providing children with educational opportunity and support.

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If you were to take a tentative step into the fetid streets of the Kibera slum of Kenya, the first thing you might notice is the stench—one million people packed into one square mile without plumbing will do that. You’d notice poverty streaked into every face. You’d notice children scavenging; you’d notice babies languishing.

But what you might not notice—not right away, though it’s there—is the hope slowly growing. Because tucked into a cluster of tiny ramshackle building is Spurgeons Academy.

Feeding children in body and mind

Throughout the world, about 215 million children have to work—some of them full-time—to help their families make it through the day. They can’t attend school because it’s more important that they find food or sell scraps or haul water. Food and water are the most basic human needs, and every other need, no matter how important, falls by the wayside when people don’t have them.

Children living in poverty don’t get proper nutrition. Children who are poorly nourished can’t make education a priority. Children who lack education remain living in poverty. And on it goes.

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So Feed the Children breaks into this cycle to come alongside families who desperately need a way out. We run programs at schools in impoverished areas around the world, like the Kibera slum, to regularly provide nutritious meals to 350,000 children who might otherwise go an entire day without eating. We provide school materials like backpacks and uniforms. We pay for teachers if none are available in a community. And if a school doesn’t already exist in the area, or if it’s in disrepair, we build a new one—and this is often the only place a community has access to clean drinking water and sanitation.

The food and clean water they can count on getting at school is a strong incentive for attending—and while they’re there to get their most basic needs met, they get an education too.

Educating parents to raise healthy kids

Providing education for children is an important part of our work—and so is providing education for their parents. By teaching the adults in impoverished communities good health, nutrition, and sanitation practices, we equip them to improve the quality of life for their whole family.

In the Pueblo Nuevo community of Nicaragua, we recently held a comprehensive two-day training on nutrition and preventative health. Nineteen women learned about the food chart; the relationships among health, nutrition, and education; signs of malnutrition, including measurement of children; hygiene in food handling; and personal hygiene.

The women were enthusiastic about the training and are eager not only to get more, but to pass it along. They recognize that this kind of education has tremendous ability to further the hard work they’re already doing in their community to improve their children’s health and give them a better future.

Kids can’t thrive when their families are trapped in poverty. Education is the key to breaking them out of the cycle. If we want to improve their lives, we have to help them get an education. And we do.

With school walls separating them from the slum, the children are insulated for the day. Most of them are orphaned or have only one parent—and that parent is either gravely ill or struggling to support the family with odd jobs for meager pay. There is no doubt life in Kibera is beyond difficult.

But this morning they chatted and laughed over their hot bowls and fresh cups, and now they’re engaged in the lesson—fed in body, mind, and spirit. When Spurgeons Academy opened in 2000, a handful of children attended, but with the assurance of a meal every day, now over 400 come.

Inside these walls, they have hope—and it shows.

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