Planting Seeds for the Future: The Story of Naima Dido

A former Feed the Children recipient reflects on her childhood and gives back to her community in need.  

Life for Naima Dido started out anything but secure. She was born in Kariobungi, Kenya – a densely populated area in western Nairobi – where even today, nearly 40 percent of families live in poverty. Naima says that hunger was a chronic issue throughout her early childhood in Kenya. In fact, when Naima was an infant, her mother was so stricken with hunger that she once blacked out while feeding her. “She actually checked herself into a hospital because she knew that she could get food there,” Dido said. “There was no food in the house. My mother sold everything in the house to buy food. The only items left were the bed and a plate.”

Feed the Children began offering school lunches at Valley Bridge primary school where Naima was a student in 1986. She said this simple act changed her life as well the lives of many other students.

 

“Being able to eat at school changed a lot for many of us,” she shared while reflecting on this challenging time in her life.

Internationally, Feed the Children strives to improve children’s school performance. The organization seeks to reduce barriers and add incentives to ensure children enroll and stay in school so they can reach their full potential. With this goal in mind, regular nutritious school meals are provided to school-aged children like Naima.

Naima, along with her parents and four brothers, came to America when she was 10 as part of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. “My parents lived in limbo for a long time before we moved to the United States because they couldn’t work as refugees in Kenya – it was the same as being an illegal immigrant in America,” Naima said. “My parents had to get creative on how to support a family.”

Naima has never forgotten the struggles of her home country and how one organization can make a difference in the lives of many. Today, Naima is the program director for Seed Programs International where her work supports underprivileged communities in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Naima Dido visits with Paul Mbugua, headmaster at Woodard Langalanga Secondary School in Kenya. Mbugua was one of Dido’s teachers when she was a student at the school.

“These children don’t have much; I was one of those kids not too long ago,” Naima said. “The idea that this is still happening today motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing.”

Today, Naima is proud of both her heritage and of the future she’s built with her family: husband and two kids. To help her stay connected with her roots, and to help her children better understand their roots, she visits Kenya when possible. She’s even reconnected with a teacher she knew when she was in the Feed the Children program all those years ago.

Learn more about our work to defeat childhood hunger in the U.S., in Africa, and around the world.

Finding Work-Life Balance for Mothers

Being a mom is a full-time job. If you ask any mom, they will tell you about the all-night shifts that stretch into the early morning hours, and the never-complete to-do lists. Moms serve as our teachers, drivers, counselors, negotiators, cooks, cheerleaders and all-around fixers. Undeniably, our mom forms each of us into the person we will be for the rest of our life.

However, moms also play an important part in today’s workforce.  According to the Department of Labor, 40 percent of moms are the primary source of income for their households.  This comes with its own set of challenges as many times jobs require time commitments outside a 9 to 5 day.

With the day-to-day tasks of running a household along with the pressures of financially supporting a family, work-life balance can seem like an elusive concept without a clear definition. There are only so many hours in the day, after all. How can a mom give her job or career the dedication it deserves, and still spend quality time with her kids? How can she juggle both work and home?

These are questions that every working mother struggles with. But everyone can agree, that their most important goal is to provide the best life possible for their children.

 

“My kids are so important to me that I will do whatever I can to protect them and keep them out of harm’s way.  I’m trying to be the best mom I can. But I also have a lot on my mind with bills, keeping the rent paid, keeping all the utilities on – it is just hard,” said Sandi, mom of two.

Consider the following if you are struggling to create a work-life balance;

  • Set manageable goals each day. Make a “to do” list, and take care of important tasks first and eliminate unessential ones.
  • Unplug from electronics. The same technology that makes it so easy to work remotely can also burn us out if we use them at all hours of the day and night.
  • Give yourself a break. No one’s perfect! Every mom is doing the best she can.
  • Get support from family and friends.
  • Ask for help if you need it. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

Many times, asking for help is one of the most difficult things to do, especially for a mom. She may have the self-expectation that she can conquer anything in her way. But everyone – at some point – needs help.

One of our core values at Feed the Children is to defend dignity. We believe in treating each family member in the communities where we work with value and worth. To help ease the burden of mothers across the U.S., we distribute our essentials box, which we refer to as our ‘dignity box.’ These boxes contain personal care products to support the well-being of hard-working women and their families. Click here to see how you can support mothers everywhere.

Tweet us how you YOU tackle work-life balance and why you are thankful for your own mother’s sacrafices #ThankYouMom.

What it Means to be a Mother

Being a mother is life-changing. Challenging. Rewarding. Scary. Wonderful.

If you ask several women to define what it means to be a mother, no two answers may be the same. However, you may find one central theme: motherhood is not easy. Mothers are essentially the backbones of their family. They carry, birth, feed and provide for their children for the rest of their lives. And, many do it all with a smile.

Between chasing the monsters away at night and nurturing us while we’re sick, they are often quite simply, superwomen. Being a mother can be emotionally and physically demanding, but some women wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sure you have heard your own mother say, “No matter how old you get, I will never stop being your mother.” That’s because motherhood has shaped her into the person who has endless and unconditional love for her children.

 

“Love is when you wake up every morning and watch your children grow. I show love to my children every day by making sure they hear me say ‘good morning’ with a hug. I never go a day without telling my children I love them.” -Mia, mother of three

Being a mother means teaching your children how to walk, talk, feed themselves and eventually grow into well-adjusted adults. They have a hand in guiding their children’s values and morals for the future, which can define how their potential grandchildren are raised.

 

It means a lot as a mother to have taught all my children and grand kids to cook, and keep healthy food in the house. It has been very important throughout my life and theirs to be healthy. Teaching them the value of their health has made them each grow into adults who now prepare great meals at home for their children.” -Jessica, mother of three

Being a mother means making sure your children can have the world, even if you don’t have the world to give. In the U.S. today, mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under the age of 18. Many women work multiple jobs to make sure their children have the clothes, food and school supplies needed for their education. They work hard to equip their child with the means for a successful future.

 

“I sacrifice for my kids every day. Even if I have to go without, they’re going to get what they need regardless of the situation. If I’m down to my last dollar, I’m going to give it to them so they can go to school with cash. I just try to be the best mom I can for them.”-Connie, mother of two

Feed the Children helps children and mothers during their most difficult times. In addition to providing boxes filled with food, our essentials box, which we refer to as our ‘dignity box,’ contains personal care products to support the self-esteem of hard-working women and their families. These boxes may contain items like shampoo, make-up, perfume, feminine hygiene products, and more.

As Mother’s Day approaches this year, make sure you thank the special woman in your life and support women around you. Click here to see how you can support mothers everywhere. From everyone at Feed the Children, thank you to all of the women who have the world’s hardest job. Taking care of us!

Tweet us what it means for YOU to be a mom and why you are thankful for your own mother #ThankYouMom.

Introducing the Kenya Food and Nutrition Team

By Paul Odongo

At Feed the Children, we couldn’t do our work without the support of individuals, corporations and organizations—people like you. Your gifts help us attract and hire top-notch staff who implement our programs here and around the world—who help create a world where no child goes to bed hungry.

Today we’d like you to meet the Food & Nutrition Team in Kenya.

Many people mistakenly think Food & Nutrition consists simply of providing meals to hungry kids. We do work with feeding programs in communities and schools throughout Central America, Africa and the Philippines. But the food is only a fraction of what we do. Kenya’s Food & Nutrition Team also works to train and empower parents and communities through the Care Group program.

Their work starts before a child is even born, and continues through the child’s first thousand days of life. Studies have consistently shown that these few years can be the most important period in a child’s life. What happens in those early years helps ensure whether they will grow into healthy and well-nourished children.

Through the Care Group Model, we help educate entire communities on good hygiene, nutrition, sanitation and health. We employ seven Care Group Promoters, who are each responsible for four Care Groups. These groups typically consist of ten to twelve Lead Mothers, who are volunteers and the real lifeblood of what we do.

Each Lead Mother reaches out to ten to fifteen neighbor women who are pregnant, lactating, or have a child under five years of age. These Lead Mothers meet frequently in their Care Groups to learn key messages about nutrition and caregiving, which they pass on to their communities.

DSC_0145It’s mothers training mothers, and it works.

“We began teaching this year, and the community is already energized and taking action towards some of the issues in their communities,” says Anthony Muburi, a Care Group Promoter. This teaching includes how to access nutrient-rich foods and appropriate nutrition for infants and young children. The groups also help mothers access deworming medication for children, to prevent parasites. All activities focus on reducing stunting, which can result in permanent, irreversible negative health, developmental, and well-being outcomes for the remainder of children’s lives.

“When we started the program, there was some skepticism,” says Dennis Kaunda, a supervisor. “We had to take some time to sensitize the Ministry of Health officials on this model and how we would implement it.”

Along with the Care Groups, Food & Nutrition takes a big-picture approach, working with government to advocate for policies and budgets that encourage good nutrition and foster child development. We have been pivotal in nutrition advocacy in Kajiado County, which led to the launch of the County Nutrition Action Plan in June this year. This is one our most visible achievements, and the first of its kind in Kenya. We are helping get county government and other partners involved in the fight against hunger. The action plan will provide framework and coordination for a variety of interventions, activities and programs by county government, stakeholders and partners.

We salute the Food & Nutrition team in Kenya: Clementina Ngina, the Pillar Manager; Dennis Kaunda and Japheth Kaeke, supervisors on the ground; Anthony Muburi, Deborah Nekesa, Kevin Wanyonyi, Jackline Jerotich, Mercy Nyangaresi, Gladys Gathua and Everline Ahidi, our Care Group Promoters; and Esther Komen, a Program Officer that represents the team in Kajiado.

Will you stand with these dedicated individuals? Learn more about our work in Kenya here.