Dennys, 16, became a tailor for his community in El Salvador

Dennys is 16 and lives in a poor village in El Salvador. For years he was a beneficiary of our school meals programs in his community where he received a daily, nutritious meal. This food helped Dennys not only to overcome malnutrition, but also to stay in school. When he got a little older, Feed the Children, through support from our child sponsorship program, started a livelihood-development project in his community in the field of tailoring. Despite his dream of one day being a journalist, Dennys knew his family was too poor to ever send him to college. But when he saw the opportunity to learn a trade that could earn him some money to apply toward college—Dennys jumped at the chance!

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He enrolled in our tailoring project and quickly became one of the best and most talented students—finishing his certificate of completion with flying colors. Now Dennys makes suits, shirts, pants, uniforms, dresses—all kinds of clothing and sells them to the community. With the income he earns, he is able to help with the necessities of his family, as well as set aside some money for college. Dennys enjoys tailoring, and his excellent work is becoming sought-after in the village. The best part is that he is excited and hopeful for his future. Without this program, Dennys probably would have had to drop out of school and go to work in the fields, earning just a couple of dollars a day and being stuck in a life of abject poverty.

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From Fashion to Feed the Children: A Conversation with Silvia Andena

Editor’s Note: We continue our series of posts highlighting some of the people who make up the Feed the Children team. Here is an interview with Silvia Andena, Country Director for Feed the Children Tanzania. Other blogs in this series can be found herehere and here.

How did you first get into this work? Why focus on children specifically?

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Silvia Andena

My first work experience was in the fashion sector, coming from Milan in Italy. That kind of work is a very easy road to take, and many people aspire to it, but I always had the idea to do something that would help other people. This first work experience helped me understand that desire even better, and I realized clearly that fashion was not the right sector for me!

With the support of my family, I decided to enroll in a Master’s in International Relations degree program in London, UK. That seemed to be the best way to shift towards working in the international sector.

I’ve always had a passion for traveling and living in different countries, and my idea was immediately to aim for Africa. I wanted to live there and understand the culture before finding the best way to be of help. It took me some years to get here, but finally I was able to make it!

The choice of children came naturally—they are the nicest thing on earth. But they are also fragile, and adults have a duty to help them protect themselves by empowering their lives. Even now, talking to children is one of my favorite things to do. I learn a lot from them about life and the best ways to help them.

Recently I have even decided to study children’s rights, in order to have more tools to help them. Working in this sector is not an easy thing, and without the right instruments and skills, you can’t have nearly as much positive impact.

What motivates you in your work? Is there a person, story or statistic that gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you going?

People keep telling me that I am a good person for what I do. I feel I am actually a bit selfish. When you can do something to help others, you are the one benefiting the most from it. The smiles and warmth of people can make you feel alive, like you’re in the right place.

There is a sentence that I always try to remember in my work and my life from Terence, the Roman playwright: “I am a human, and I think nothing human is alien to me.”

That is what motivates me—my interest in other people, and spending my life doing something worthwhile for them. We all have a duty to help people in difficulty. Each of us, in our own lives, can find a small way to accomplish this.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing children and families in Tanzania, and how does Feed the Children address those challenges? 

Access to proper food, clean water and educational tools are the biggest challenges for children and their families. By supporting schools and communities through our four pillars, we can give children a proper education, which is their right. Also, by working to empower schools and communities, we can help solving other big problems present in Tanzania such as early pregnancies, child marriage and youth delinquency.

Is there a recent story you can share about the work being done in Tanzania on behalf of children?

We recently participated in the celebration of the Day of the African Child in one of our beneficiary schools. On that occasion children from other nearby schools participated, and Feed the Children provided all of them with juices and snacks. The children were able to dance and sing in front of adults and express their own views about the problems they have to face in their everyday life as African children. It was amazing to see small children expressing their thoughts with such energy, and then they all listened carefully during our speech about children’s right to education, particularly girls’ rights. I see this little event as a sign that this country might really see change happening. Children are our future!

What’s one misconception people in the United States might have about Tanzania? What would you want us to know about this country? 

FEED03Tanzania is not Africa; it is part of it. There are things Tanzanians share with other African populations, and things that are unique to them, such as their language and how it defines them as a culture and an independent nation. In Tanzania, the first language is not English; it is Kiswahili. People of different tribes, languages, and religions have been united under a language and a name. Nowadays, compared to other nearby countries, Tanzania is a peaceful one, where different people share their lives together without any conflict.

The general attitude of Tanzanian people is one of kindness and peace. This population has taught me what really means to be humble and patient. When you smile at them in the street they do not think you are weird or wanting something from them—they simply smile back.

Child Sponsors: We Salute You!

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love! – Hamilton Wright Mabie

Since 2009, I’ve been traveling the world with musicians, singers, songwriters and their teams in hopes of this very thing: to engage the world with love and involve as many people in this lofty pursuit as possible.

In 2013, I joined the team at Feed the Children as Director of Artist Relations, Child Sponsorship and Media excited about how I could champion Feed the Children’s mission that no child goes to bed hungry!

After all the miles flown and countries visited, I still believe that one idea, like this, can change the world. We’ve seen it happen throughout history and continue to see it today. But ideas alone do not bring about change. This is what I’ve come to know through my work: change happens when WE engage the world around us and come together with a common goal. Partnership is the key! When we work together, lives are impacted and change is evident.

Over the past year at Feed the Children, we have seen the ripples of change turn into waves through child sponsorship. With over 20,000 kids sponsored in 2014, these simple single acts of kindness have created a tsunami of love for children and families all over the world. Your gracious monthly gifts have not only provided necessities to sustain life but they’ve given hope and the opportunity to dream big.

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Kids are smiling.

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Kids are playing.

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Kids are being kids!

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So, if you are a child sponsor…THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! This is the message the children have for you!

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You have chosen to impact the life of a child and to unite with us as we together engage the world around us with love.

From the entire child sponsorship team, know how grateful we are for you! Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

-Crystal Hutchinson

Giving Tuesday: Give a Gift That Matters

Get some great deals on Black Friday? Wait until you see the gifts you can pick up from our gift catalog.

Today is the third annual ‘Giving Tuesday,’ which is a day reminding us to give back, and the internet is full of causes asking for donations. But do you really know where your money is going when you click ‘donate’?

For Giving Tuesday, we invite you to know your gift matters. Whether it’s a chicken, a book, a water purification system, or a semi-truck full of necessities, these gifts can help children and their families succeed.

We understand that it might be hard to decide with so many options, so here’s five gift suggestions to help you get started:

FEED A CLASS OF 50 CHILDREN ($20)

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Help feed school children with a traditional Githeri meal of corn and kidney beans. In our Kenya programs, Feed the Children serves meals to 140,229 children in 170 schools each school day. Your gift will help children thrive physically and mentally.

WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS FOR 2 FAMILIES FOR 1 YEAR ($29)

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Even clean water can become contaminated while being carried home or stored for later use. These tablets are one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent diarrhea and other waterborne health issues

1 GOAT ($79)

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Goats are great for families trying to overcome poverty – a source of meat, milk and income.

FISHING GEAR FOR 1 PERSON ($188)

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Teach a man to fish and you give him the tools to provide his family with food for a lifetime. You also provide a family with the means of a stable income when they sell the excess fish at the market.

1 SEMITRUCK LOADED WITH NECESSITIES FOR 400 FAMILIES ($15,000)

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Keep the trucks moving! Your gift helps Feed the Children pick up and deliver food and other essentials to communities across America. Thanks to caring friends like you, our 40 semitrucks will stay on the road to feed hungry families and children throughout our nation.

Whether your holiday shopping list contains a new toy or the hottest new device, be sure to make a difference this Giving Tuesday and help defeat hunger with Feed the Children.

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.

Advocating for Children at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition

I’m honored to represent Feed the Children at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and at the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Pre-Conference this week in Rome, Italy. I’m joining 10 Ministers (e.g., Ministers of Health, Ministers of Agriculture) and representatives from 160 governments there.  The last ICN was held 22 years ago to urge governments around the world to commit to very specific actions designed to improve nutrition, both in the Global North and Global South (these terms are the preferred way to refer to what we used to call the Developed and Developing world or First/Third-world).

This week, I will be advocating for three things I believe to be essential in order to improve the nutritional status of children around the world. (To understand terms we use when discussing hunger and nutrition, check out this infographic and post).

1. The need for prioritization

Right now, the framework for action being promoted at ICN2 contains a list of 60 policy and program options. We need to prioritize the options on this list if we expect measurable improvements in child nutrition.

One of the reasons that UNICEF’s child survival revolution was so successful in lowering child deaths is that they prioritized. They agreed to focus first on four specific actions, or interventions (referred to by the acronym GOBI – Growth monitoring, Oral rehydration, Breastfeeding, and Immunization).

This is more difficult to do in nutrition, but it’s still possible. I believe that in developing countries at least, we could (and should) focus on promoting three things : Essential Nutrition Actions, Essential Hygiene Actions, and women’s empowerment.  This is entirely doable. I have also suggested language changes in the CSO Vision Statement about the importance of water interventions (e.g. purification) and improved sanitation which can improve child nutritional status, and those changes have now been incorporated into the document.

Our Chief Program Officer Tom Davis at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition  with nutrition leaders from CARE (Bethann Cottrell, left) and Catholic Relief Services (Mary Hennigan, right)
Our Chief Program Officer Tom Davis at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition with nutrition leaders from CARE (Bethann Cottrell, left) and Catholic Relief Services (Mary Hennigan, right)

2. The need for research

No nutrition program/project conducted at scale (e.g. with 1 million or more beneficiaries) in a developing country has come close to normalizing child growth. We still need more research, and formative research (e.g. Barrier Analysis), but there has been little discussion here about the need for that. In spite of everything we throw at it, malnutrition remains a problem and any reductions are often much less than 50% in 4-5 year projects.  That shows us that some of what we need to be doing is not being done, even when funding is available.

An example of the sort of interventions we may need:

  1. Reduce maternal depression.  One study by Pamela Surkan found that we could potentially reduce stunting by about 19-23% through elimination of maternal depression, and a randomized trial has been done that shows that depression can be reduced 93% at low cost in a developing country.
  2. Eliminate open defecation (when people don’t properly dispose of human waste, it contaminates their water and soil and sickens their children). In many countries, this is a huge problem, and it’s one of the main causes that we see so much stunting in children in Asia despite the number of calories that they take in. When children live in a dirty environment, their immune systems are chronically activated, and they don’t absorb the foods that they eat as well. We know that is a large underlying cause of stunting. Learn more here. To see the sanitation conditions many children face around the world, look at these photos curated by photographers from Panos Pictures and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor for World Toilet Day.) 

For that reason, we need to push countries to conduct more formal and formative research to find what works in reducing malnutrition, and the barriers and enablers to behaviors that we know can reduce malnutrition.

3. Access to nutrition promotion as a right

We need to affirm that access to nutrition promotion is a right in the same way that access to formal education of children is a right.  We know the lives it can save, and how it can decrease malnutrition at low cost, especially through the use of volunteer peer educators (e.g. Care Groups).

Should We Feed Americans First? Our Chief Operating Officer Responds

Last month, Feed the Children’s Chief Operating Officer and President of FTC Transportation, Travis Arnold, traveled to Guatemala along with several other staff members to visit communities where we work. When he returned, we asked Travis to tell us about the trip, what he learned, and how it changed him.

TA & Diane Feeding CenterFeed the Children: Tell us about your role at Feed the Children.

Travis Arnold: For the last 13 years, I’ve been a part of this great mission that no child around the world goes hungry. Currently, as Chief Operating Officer, I am responsible for managing daily operations, both in the U.S. and around the world. I also serve as the President of our for-profit arm, FTC Transportation. This subsidiary supports the operational needs of Feed the Children by delivering food and other essentials to children and families across the country.

Feed the Children: You’d never visited, Guatemala, right?

TA: No, I hadn’t.

Feed the Children: What surprised you about this country? 

TA: I’d heard stories from others who had visited about how beautiful the country was, but it was even more beautiful than I imagined. It’s a wonderful place — the lush valleys, the mountainous regions — with so much tourism potential, given the right infrastructure and leadership. And the children are so beautiful

Feed the Children: What stood out to you about our work in Guatemala?

TA: The children, of course. They were so kind and respectful. And though the kids eat the same meal day after day: fortified rice from our partner, 4Life, and beans with a tortilla, I never heard a complaint. In fact, in one community we visited, not one child ate anything until all the kids in the community were served. Then, after a prayer, all the children ate at the same time. We learned this was not a show for the visitors. These kids are just so grateful.

Girls eating applesFeed the Children: Do you think we need to do more and reach more people in places like Guatemala? How do you respond  to people who say, “We should feed the American kids first”?

TA: By no means do I want to take anything away from the kids who are empowered through Feed the Children’s work in the U.S. We have so many hungry kids in our own backyard that we need to take care of. It’s our national responsibility. But, what people don’t realize is that poverty in places like rural Guatemala is extreme. Most families are too poor to afford fruits and vegetables. They have no resources to fall back on when those hard times get even worse — a parent falls ill, a child is born with a disability, or a tropical storm destroys their home. Many of the kids I met only eat once a day, and that meal comes from Feed the Children.

 Feed the Children: What is one thing you saw on this trip to Guatemala that you’d most like our donors to know about?

TA: Know that the work in this country has been validated. I saw with my own eyes the kids that are being lifted out of poverty because of your donations. If it weren’t for you, donors and partners, these kids wouldn’t have hope. And it’s lasting hope we’re bringing because we are not just feeding kids. We’re investing in education, giving communities clean water, and helping parents find jobs. I met with one mayor in a town where we’ve hosted a feeding center for years. The mayor showed me pictures and told me over and over again, “You’re changing lives. Kids are coming to school. They’re learning. They’re dreaming big for their future. 

Feed the Children: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

TA: Since I returned to Oklahoma, the faces of the children I met have stayed with me. I do the work I do every day because of them. They are our heroes!Eating Apple

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.

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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

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.