News Roundup, December 14, 2015

Every two weeks we share short updates on our work throughout the organization and among our many corporate and non-profit partners. Enjoy and be inspired!  

Hope at the Holidays

Feed the Children brought some holiday hope to 1,000 families in Lansing, Michigan recently, working together with a very special partner—basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

It’s the second year for the Magic Johnson Foundation’s Holiday Hope program, which began last year in Detroit.

“This is where I’m from,” said Johnson, quoted in the Lansing State Journal. “I wanted to bless some families here, and not just families, but the kids as well. I wanted to come home and do something positive, something good.”

12289720_1174365902592732_6069625811917437429_nJohnson brought his own family members with him, along with Michigan State University’s men’s basketball team and coach Tom Izzo, who handed out toys and coats to children inside the school before helping with the food distribution.

The event took place a few weeks ago at Everett High School. Families received a 25-pound box of food; a 10-pound box of items such as shampoo, conditioner, lotion and personal care items; and a box of Avon products.

We’re thankful to the Magic Johnson Foundation, the Michigan State men’s basketball team, and all of the volunteers and partners who made this holiday hope possible.

 

Around the World with Feed the Children

Me with Daniel (edited)If you haven’t seen Tanya Roloff’s dispatches from her recent trips to Kenya, Uganda and the Philippines, you’re missing out! Tanya is Producer, Writer, and Photographer for Feed the Children and offers her perspectives while traveling #aroundtheworldin30days.

As she prepared for her trip, she reflected on her role as storyteller for the children we serve and are inspired by every day: “This, to me, is one of the biggest rewards of my work — to give these resilient, beautiful, talented, incredible people a voice and a platform to share their struggles, hopes, dreams, pains, fears.” And you won’t want to miss her account of meeting a precious little boy named Daniel. Daniel hasn’t had an easy life, but thanks to the dedication of Feed the Children staff, as well as our donors and partners, he has hope for a fresh start.

Thank you Tanya for sharing your experiences and passion with us. Check out her blogs here and here.

 

Coats for the Winter

One Warm Coat, First Book, and Feed the Children have joined forces with outerwear manufacturer Tahsin USA to distribute an estimated 20,000 coats, hats, gloves, pants, and rain gear to families across America.

With the arrival of cold weather in much of the US, these organizations are collaborating to create a supply chain that will get outerwear to families in need. Shipments are being handled by FTC Transportation and are distributed to Feed the Children partner agencies across the US. Big thanks to Tahsin, First Book and One Warm Coat! Together we are making a difference. To learn more about our partners in this effort: www.onewarmcoat.org and www.firstbook.org.

 

Kudos for H.E.L.P.

Feed the Children’s Homeless Education and Literacy ProgramFeed the Children’s Homeless Education and Literacy Program (H.E.L.P.) has received a 2015 President’s Award by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY). During their tenure, NAEHCY Board Presidents have the opportunity to grant a national recognition award to outstanding partners who have made a positive national impact. For the last decade, the H.E.L.P. program has been benefiting students experiencing homelessness by partnering with NAEHCY to distribute backpacks, books, school supplies, non-perishable food and personal-care items.

Feed the Children connects with NAEHCY leaders, state coordinators and other McKinney-Vento leaders in all 50 states. Throughout the last 10 years, the program has donated more than $35 million dollars in supplies and more than 900,000 backpacks.

Kids all over the world need backpacks and school supplies—to help provide these essentials so kids can learn and thrive, check out our gift catalog.

 

Improving Community Sanitation

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A child from Thochi Community Based Child Care Centre in Malawi visits a latrine at his home. Through use of care group volunteers, the Feed the Children office in Malawi has trained community members on proper health and sanitation practices.

The Feed the Children office in Kenya joined stakeholders, community members and school children in Kajiado and Turkana Counties to mark World Toilet Day on November 19.

In Turkana, the event was held at Kaikor Baraza park in Kibish Sub County while in Kajiado, stakeholders gathered to mark the day at Entaretoi village.

Through the Health & Water pillar, Feed the Children implements activities geared towards improving the sanitation status of communities. One of the pillar’s key outcomes is to increase sanitation facilities coverage in institutions and households in order to reduce and eventually eliminate diarrheal diseases associated with open defecation.

For the past three years, Feed the Children has constructed and rehabilitated 149 latrines in the urban slums of Nairobi, Kajiado and Samburu counties in order to reduce the struggles some children face for lack of access to latrines.

World Toilet Day is marked annually with an aim to break the taboo around toilets and draw attention to the global sanitation challenge. It was created in 2001 to raise global awareness of the daily struggle for proper sanitation that over 2.5 billion people face.

 

Music with a Purpose

blah2GRAMMY®-nominated NewSong performed at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia this weekend as part of their Very Merry Christmas Tour. Benefiting Feed the Children, the festive night featured GRAMMY®-nominated pop/rockers Building 429 and best-selling singer/songwriter Plumb, the band Reno, as well as special guest, three-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Darrell Waltrip.

We’re proud to partner with artists all over the country to help inspire generosity through child sponsorship. As Jeremy Willet, Artist Relations Event Manager for Feed the Children, wrote recently on our blog: “What if this Christmas, you and your family added another ‘first’ to your list? What if the Christmas of 2015 will be remembered as the Christmas in which you sponsored a child at one of your favorite concerts?”

“The Christmas tour always proves to be one of the highlights of our year,” said NewSong founding member and Atlanta native Eddie Carswell. “It’s a time to celebrate the hope we’ve been given through Jesus’ birth, and it will be an honor to lead audiences in worshipping Him with our friends Building 429 and Plumb.”

To learn more about the tours happening this month, and how they benefit Feed the Children, check out Jeremy’s blog.

Country Spotlight: El Salvador–Hope Is Hatching

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” That’s why our international development work centers around four pillars: Food & Nutrition, Health & Water, Education, and Livelihoods.

When children are hungry and malnourished, the need is urgent: to fill their bellies and get them the nutrition they need to grow healthy and strong. But we know we can’t stop with the Food & Nutrition pillar:

How can that health be sustained?
Through increased access to clean water and sanitation (Health & Water pillar).

How can children escape poverty?
By going to school and learning the skills needed for a successful life (Education pillar).

And how can an entire village improve their circumstances?
By receiving training and support as they learn a marketable trade (Livelihoods pillar).

Darwin is just one child who will benefit from all four of these pillars. Let’s find out how.

Food & Nutrition

Darwin is five years old and lives with his parents in a rural village in the middle of coffee country in El Salvador. His father works as a bricklayer and earns about $100 a month. It’s enough to get by—they can put food on the table—but it’s not the nutrient-rich food a growing boy needs.

Thankfully Darwin has access to a Feed the Children feeding center, where he receives a nutritious lunch each weekday. Darwin loves both the food and the children he’s met: “I feel happy because I have a lot of friends [at the feeding center], and also the food is delicious, like a restaurant!”

Health & Water

We know that nutritious meals go a long way toward keeping children healthy. And Darwin has gained 10% of his body weight since he’s starting receiving meals from the feeding center. But our involvement in Darwin’s community goes beyond food. Feed the Children also provides children five years of age and older with deworming medicine, helping prevent debilitating diseases. We also arrange for medical personnel to visit Darwin’s community on an annual basis. These personnel provide free medical care to the residents.

Education

At age five, Darwin is not old enough to attend school, but his parents are excited for him to go when it’s time. Darwin’s village has a school that serves some 360 students in twelve classrooms. In El Salvador, uniforms are required, but they are provided by the government. Through assistance from donors and corporate partners, Feed the Children can steps in with backpacks and other necessary items so kids have what they need to learn and succeed in school.

Darwin loves animals and dreams of becoming a veterinarian.
Darwin loves animals and dreams of becoming a veterinarian.

Darwin loves animals and would like to become a vet some day. With Feed the Children’s support of him, plus hard work and luck, these dreams can become a reality.

Livelihoods

El Salvador has a 16.2% rate of unemployment. We’re tackling that statistic in many different ways, but in Darwin’s village, that means fish. About a year ago, we helped develop a tilapia hatchery in the community. We work with the mothers who work at the feeding center, providing training and coursework about how to manage the hatchery for their own food as well as a means of generating income. This project has helped Darwin’s family and many others by providing knowledge and new approaches to improve their quality of life.

We aren’t just teaching one person to fish—we’re providing support to an entire community so that fishing can be the backbone of a sustainable economy. Darwin benefits, but so do many others.

It would be easy to give food to Darwin and children like him and then stop there. But we’re not content with easy answers and half steps. We want to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. And we believe that when we all pitch in, hunger has an expiration date. Get to know more about the four pillars here and how you can get involved here.

 

Country Spotlight: El Salvador — An Interview with Ricardo Candray

This month we begin a new feature on our blog, Country Spotlight. In addition to our general blog content, each month we will be sharing a series of articles about one of our ten partner countries. We hope our Country Spotlight will give readers a deeper picture of the work we do around the world.

We kick things off with a focus on El Salvador and an interview with Country Director Ricardo Alcides Candray Menendez, who joined Feed the Children in 1991. Special thanks to Mayra Humphrey and Meylin Quan for conducting the interview.

How did you first get into this work? Why focus on children specifically? The opportunity arrived at the right time. I was called for an interview and found out this was my true calling. I decided to focus on children, first of all because I have children of my own. I have never had to see them go through hard times—so the passion started thanks to my children. But I also feel whole when I see the smiles on the faces of the children we serve, because I know that at least they had a decent meal on that day.

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? What motivates me is being able to help children, mothers, families and communities. There is a child that I met a long time ago. His name is Edwin, from the community of El Refugio. His father suffered from alcoholism, so he looked up to me as a father figure. Edwin is now all grown up, because we gave him an opportunity [to grow and thrive]. So every child I meet in a community reminds me of Edwin.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing children and families in El Salvador, and how does Feed the Children address those challenges? Some of the biggest challenges are poverty, hunger, unemployment and health. Feed the Children’s four-pillar approach helps address these challenges. In fact we do much more than provide food—we teach and empower children, parents, care providers, and their communities to reverse malnutrition and defeat hunger. The four pillars of our child-focused community-development program are Food & Nutrition, Health & Water, Education, and Livelihoods.

*IMG_5484Is there a recent story you can share about the work being done in El Salvador on behalf of children? We recently have been receiving donations from Vitamin Angels. Now children below the ages of 5 are receiving Vitamin-A supplementation, and the mothers that are pregnant are also receiving prenatal vitamins, which makes me really happy because this vitamin helps with vision, particularly in low light. Chronic deficiency can cause blindness.

What’s one misconception people in the United States might have about El Salvador? What would you want us to know about this country? The most common misconception is that only delinquents and gangs live in this country. We would like for people to know Salvadorians are nice, responsible and hardworking people. Not all the population are wrongdoers. Millions of Salvadorians love their country and believe in God.

Just for fun:

Interests and hobbies: Soccer

Favorite vacation destination: United States

Favorite restaurant: “Mariscos Beto” ( Beto’s Shrimp)

Favorite scripture: Philippians 4:13

Favorite American city: Pasadena

Favorite song/artist: Marcos Witt

What did you want to be when you were 6 years old?: Teacher

Top 3 on your bucket list: Go to Africa; Get involved in a mission to help evangelize people; That all of my family is converted to believing in God and Jesus Christ.

Your favorite day at Feed the Children so far? In October 2013 when we received a donation to build our new feeding center in the community of La Labor.

 

“We Want to Make It Happen”: A Conversation with Scott Killough

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 Scott Killough, Feed the Children’s Senior Vice President of International Operations. Other blogs in this series can be found here and here.

Tell us about your role at Feed the Children.

I’ve been at Feed the Children just over two years, and am currently the senior vice president for international operations. I coordinate and oversee all our international program activities around the world, as well as our program staff in the three regional offices and all ten of our country programs.

What’s your background?

My background is in international development. I’ve been living and working overseas for non-profit organizations for most of the last 30 years. My particular area of expertise is in international agriculture and rural development, and I spent many years living and working in the Philippines and Central America.

Last time we heard from you on the blog was after Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. You visited the Philippines this past fall. Can you give us an update on the recovery and rebuilding that’s happening there? And what role is Feed the Children playing?

Unfortunately, typhoons are an annual occurrence in the Philippines, although Haiyan was a particularly bad one. I visited in November and had a chance to visit some of the communities and talk with families that had been affected.

Our response is twofold. Typically, our team will mobilize for an immediate relief response to communities that were affected, whether we are working in those parts of the country or not. Our staff and volunteers and partners were out quickly, providing food and supporting communities that were in the path of the storm.

The second phase of our response is to sit down with communities and identify ways we can support rebuilding and recovery efforts. And that’s where we invest more time and effort. As an example, we’ve been working with one community in Cebu province to help them rebuild their school.

We also helped develop a psycho-social counseling session for children and parents whose lives had been devastated. We worked with staff and volunteers from San Carlos University in Cebu to walk people through a process to better deal with their grief. In many cases their homes had been destroyed; they’d lost all their belongings.

Talk about the four pillars of Feed the Children: Food & Nutrition, Health & Water, Education, and Livelihoods. Talk about how those four pillars work together to help impoverished communities, with maybe a story to illustrate.

Improving livelihoods is one of the four pillars of our work.
Improving livelihoods is one of the four pillars of our work.

The four pillars for me represent the priorities that are universal to communities and families who face poverty in their lives every day. Everyone needs food and water, a decent education, and a chance to improve their livelihood.

As an organization though, the four pillars also provide Feed the Children with a concrete program framework around which we can plan our activities.

We typically start our programs with the first pillar: food and nutrition interventions. We may work with mothers to organize a school feeding program, or help parents introduce home gardens as a way to address food security at the household level. We bring the community together, and the social capital that’s built in the early work of the food and nutrition pillar becomes a platform for launching other activities— addressing health concerns, improving access to drinking water, improving education, and working with communities to support livelihoods.

One example of the four-pillar framework comes from the Philippines, where our four-pillar program framework was originally developed (although we’ve modified it, over time). What you see there are a number of communities working in partnership with schools, which have established school feeding activities. We’ve made investments in water systems both at the school and made drinking water more accessible to the wider community.

Tiyamike VSL group (3)
A village savings and loan group in Tiyamike

And we’ve had great success with the village savings and loan approach. We work with those same volunteer mothers and parents as we did in the beginning. The village savings and loan becomes a concrete mechanism for organizing small groups and getting them to build their own capital fund through savings. This happens not through an external infusion of capital from Feed the Children or our donors, but through their own group savings. Then, we work to support the community as they begin making small loans to the members of the group.

On the family level, the funds enable them to generate income by opening a small store, for example. Maybe it’s a “buy and sell” initiative in which they buy sweet potatoes, do some food processing/preparation and then sell the product at a higher value. There’s a lot of flexibility for individual families or groups to figure out the best way to improve their own household income. But that whole process often starts with meeting basic needs of food and nutrition.

What’s one misconception about international development work—something you wish people better understood?

Two points. One, in order to really bring about social change in communities we support, it is a process that takes time. It’s not something that you can map out in a two-year plan or a four-year plan. Development doesn’t follow a straight timeline: “We’ll do this, then this will happen.”

Second, many of us in the United States and the rest of the industrialized world think it’s our job to be on the ground doing the work. I don’t minimize the contribution and role that Feed the Children staff play, but when we see change, it’s because local people—mothers and fathers, community leaders—are stepping up and saying, “This is what we want for ourselves. We want to bring about these changes, not because you are giving us resources and training and support, but because this is our vision for our community and family. We want to make it happen.”

It sounds like community development work is very contextual, like there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Or are there certain best practices or universal principles in play everywhere?

Well, it’s both. So much of what we do is location-specific. At the same time, there are certain attitudes and behaviors that we have as outsiders, that have been proven and time tested. We also know, from practice and learning, that there are certain ways of supporting ‘development’ – certain interventions – that will bring about better results or outcomes, and that are more cost-effective. We see those in a number of Feed the Children values: recognizing and respecting the dignity of individuals, working to develop local leaders, and understanding cultural diversity.

What motivates you in this work and keeps you going?

Right out of university many years ago, I worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala. That’s when I became involved in community development programs, with a focus on engaging men and woman at the community level.

That experience motivates me even today. How can we support men and women as they develop leadership and practical skills to make a difference for themselves, their families and their communities?  How can we support local communities to take a stake in their own well-being, in their own hopes and dreams for a better life? Those questions inspire me to work with colleagues in my own organization and other partner organizations to help make change at the community level. They really drive the work I do.

Top photo: Scott Killough visits with program coordinators and school faculty in Cebu City, Philippines.

 

 

What’s in the Water? 4 Facts That Will Shock You

Today’s post is the second in a four-part series introducing you to our proactive, sustainable approach to ending poverty and improving lives. Our Four Pillars—Food & Nutrition, Health & Water, Education, and Livelihoods—comprise a 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 Health & Water pillar, where we work toward positive, lasting change by expanding access to clean, safe water and improving health.

***

1. Water Kills 3,000 Children Every Day – Unsafe Water, That Is

Water is life-giving—or at least it’s supposed to be. But for children and families in impoverished communities, it is a death threat.

Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation causes a myriad of waterborne illnesses, including dysentery, diarrhea, and parasites. Diarrhea, which is little more than an inconvenience in the developed world, kills 3,000 children around the world every day, making it the second deadliest illness for children.

Because children’s bodies often aren’t strong enough to fight these waterborne illnesses, they are especially vulnerable to the threats of unclean water. Even when it doesn’t kill outright, dirty, diseased water ultimately destroys long-term health, educational opportunity, economic sufficiency, and, consequently, children’s futures.

So, coupled with Food & Nutrition, the Health & Water pillar is foundational to our mission of providing hope and resources for those without life’s essentials.

We help communities secure consistent access to clean water by building rain catchment systems, water wells, and filtration systems, and by creating access to municipal water systems. Once a water system is in place, protecting that water supply is the next vital step to continuing health. So we teach communities about water management and conservation as well as proper sanitation, and we help them implement these life-saving systems.

2. Without Toilets, a Community’s Waste Goes Where?

Here in the U.S., we take restroom facilities for granted. But so often, the communities we work in do not have this basic necessity… anywhere. When members of Feed the Children’s U.S. staff and volunteers visited the community we serve in Hambongan, Philippines, they couldn’t wait to sink their toes into the sand at the beautiful beaches there. But they were quickly cautioned away—the beaches were contaminated with human waste. This community, like so many, had no toilets.

IMG_9108
This is the only water source in San Juan, Honduras.

Properly built and maintained latrines are essential to protecting the water supply and improving the overall health of a community. So, through our sanitation project, we implemented a latrine system and taught the people of Hambongan how to dispose of waste so it wouldn’t go into the water. Every household in the community now has a toilet.

Disease is declining, and quality of life is improving. Instead of staying home seriously ill, more children are attending our school and feeding center. And, now better educated and equipped to bolster their own community, their parents are part of the savings and loan program we helped establish there, with 10% of their profits going directly back to the school and feeding center.

As health increases, so does hope.

3. Carrying Water Traps Many Women and Children in Poverty

At a water station in Kenya
A water station in Kenya
In the Maparasha community of Kenya, our water project is making a dramatic difference in the lives of children and families. Up until just a couple of years ago, the women and children spent most of their daylight hours carrying water the three kilometers from the mountain source to their village. The children had no time for school, and the women had no time to support their families. But everything changed when we built a water line to cover the distance.

Since then, the children have been filling their school seats instead of their water buckets, and the women have embarked on small business enterprises—supporting their families and the local economy—now that water transportation isn’t their full-time job. And for so many like the Maparasha community, easier access to clean water means better-watered fields, more reliable food sources, and improved health.

4. It Only Takes $10 Per Citizen to Provide an Entire Community with Access to Safe Drinking Water

Access to clean water produces gradual, powerful changes that break the cycle of poverty and improve—even save—lives. It’s energizing to see the difference it makes.

And we need to be energized—we in communities who flip faucets on without a thought, we who have hope and resources to share. We need to be energized about the difference access to clean water makes—because we need to be the ones to expand that access to children and families around the world.

We need to make sure children like six-year-old Daniela and two-year-old Jason in San Juan, Honduras get to have clean drinking water just like our own children do. The siblings live in a dilapidated shack with six other family members and no clean water. And the problem goes beyond their own home.

Daniela and Jason's main water source has been the dirty river running behind their shack.
Daniela and Jason get their water from the dirty river behind their shack.

There is no clean water source at all in the community of 10,000—just a dirty river that runs beside Daniela and Jason’s shack. As long as their community’s water problem remains, the children’s health and safety are in danger every day.

Feed the Children has established two feeding centers in San Juan, and now we would love to provide access to clean water for the whole community. It would cost $100,000 to set up a community water source—that means that for just $10 per citizen, the water problem in San Juan could be solved.

Most of us don’t have $100,000 to spare. But some of us have $1000 or $100. Nearly everyone has $10. With your help, water could cease to be a hazard for Daniela and Jason—it could be health and hope.

Join us or learn more about our clean water projects here.

TOMS and Feed the Children Bring Smiles to Honduras

Shoes and Hunger

Feed the Children has learned many lessons while pursuing our mission across 23 countries. Among the most important: countless factors contribute to poverty, and they are all interconnected. We can bring nutritious meals, clean water, and education to a child, but all that progress can be halted by one unforeseen event.

A difficult roadblock on the path to health are the infections and diseases children contract when they don’t have shoes to protect their feet. Parasites can easily invade a shoeless child and steal all the nutrition our food provides. Feed the Children administers medicine that fights these parasites, but it’s vital to prevent the child from contracting them in the first place.

Help from TOMS

TOMS knows the central role adequate footwear plays in long-term wellbeing. Through their One for One concept, every pair of  shoes TOMS sells means a pair of new shoes is given to a child in need. And it doesn’t happen just once — in partnership with Feed the Children, TOMS is committed to continue helping kids as they develop and grow.

Feed the Children, a TOMS Shoes Giving Partner, distributes shoes to school children about twice a year. Last month, we had the pleasure of giving the shoes to children in our Honduras education programs while giving the Honduras Minister of Education a tour of these schools.

The children’s smiles told the story as they happily received their new shoes.

The children lined up to greet Francisco Torres of Feed the Children - Honduras, as he brought some very special guests on a tour of schools participating in the Feed the Children Honduras Education program.
Schoolchildren lined up to greet Francisco Torres of Feed the Children – Honduras and his very special guests.
The children created signs and decorations to welcome their honored guest, Marlon Escoto, the Minister of Education of Honduras.
The children created signs and decorations to welcome their honored guest, Marlon Escoto, the Minister of Education of Honduras.
Feed the Children staff organized the new pairs of TOMS as Minister of Education Escoto helped by measuring the children’s feet.
Feed the Children staff organized the new pairs of TOMS as Minister of Education Escoto helped by measuring the children’s feet.
Our staff repeated the process throughout the day as Mr. Escoto and the staff brought the shoes to children at several Honduran schools.
Our staff repeated the process throughout the day as Mr. Escoto and the staff brought the shoes to children at several Honduran schools.
New TOMS = smiles!
New TOMS = happy faces!
As he walked through the community, Minister of Education Escoto was greeted by children wearing their new pairs of TOMS.
As he walked through the community, Minister of Education Escoto was greeted by children wearing their new pairs of TOMS.
The children in this preschool are much less susceptible to disease and nutrition-robbing parasites with their new shoes.
The children in this preschool are much less susceptible to disease and nutrition-robbing parasites with their new shoes.

School-based Meals Bring and Keep Children in School

In addition to receiving new shoes, the minister of education joined the children for the meal provided by the Feed the Children education program.
In addition to receiving new shoes, the minister of education joined the children for the meal provided by the Feed the Children education program.
lunch 1
350,000 children are fully engaged in our child-focused programs, which provide nutritious meals every school day.
As part of his visit, Minister of Education Escoto thanked the mothers who volunteer to help Feed the Children prepare healthy nourishing food.
As part of his visit, Minister of Education Escoto thanked the mothers who volunteer to help Feed the Children prepare healthy nourishing food.
He also visited a school’s thriving vegetable garden, a good example of Feed the Children’s Four Pillar approach to poverty.
He also visited a school’s thriving vegetable garden, a good example of Feed the Children’s Four Pillar approach to poverty.

The Four Pillars address food and nutrition, water and sanitation, health and education, and livelihood development, all with the goal of helping people out of the cycle of poverty.

At the end of his visit, Minister of Education Escoto met with the staff of Feed the Children – Honduras.
At the end of his visit, Minister of Education Escoto met with the staff of Feed the Children – Honduras.

Cooperation between Feed the Children, local government, and generous companies like TOMS multiplies the positive effects we have on a community.

With nutritious food to sustain them, shoes to help protect them from infections, and education to guide them through tomorrow, these children in Honduras have the opportunity to improve their circumstances in ways that will last for generations.

Your support of Feed the Children continues to make it possible.

Pay-It-Forward from Australia to Nicaragua to the Neighbor Next Door

They say it takes a village to raise a child — sometimes it takes a few. A recent visit by His Excellency Tim George, Australian Ambassador to Mexico and Accredited to Nicaragua, revealed how teamwork around the world is inspiring Feed the Children’s work in Latin America.

Mr. George met Angelica when he visited our Productive Training Center in El Crucero last month. She received a chicken module several months ago through our pay-it-forward process.

angelica rooster blog crop

At its most basic level, a chicken module is simply 10 hens and one rooster that we give to a family to raise. But it’s much more than that. A chicken module is a life-changer. It provides fresh eggs, meat, and income for a family that is otherwise severely limited in resources. Even beyond this, it is help offered to a neighbor. Each family we give a chicken module to will then raise another module to give to a neighboring family, creating a positive cycle of self-reliance for an entire community.

Angelica has been able to triple the number of hens we gave her. She has done so well with the chickens that not only can she feed her family fresh eggs every day, but she has enough extra to sell in the local market.

chayote squash blog crop
Angelica has branched out beyond the chicken module into vegetable gardening. This is chayote, a Nicaraguan squash.
ambassador egg
Australian ambassador Tim George with freshly picked eggs

The families in El Crucero thrill to show off what they’ve accomplished with the chicken modules. They made the ambassador’s visit an opportunity to thank their donors for supporting a program that’s made such a difference in their lives. Today, the community of El Crucero is raising healthy chickens, producing in the greenhouse, and running their new bakery facilities.

El Crucero illustrates how people from the U.S. to Australia to Nicaragua can come together to build community self-sufficiency programs.

Since partnering with Feed the Children in 2011, the Australian Embassy in Mexico has played a key role in helping families in need in Latin America. In just the last couple of years, their donated funds have made a measurable difference:

  • In Honduras we built two bakeries, benefiting 540 children and their families.
  • In Guatemala we provided 20 chicken modules, benefiting 244 children and their families.
  • In El Salvador we provided 20 chicken modules, benefiting 110 children and their families; and we provided another 20 chicken modules, benefiting 174 children and their families.
Veronica’s family received their chicken module two months ago!
Veronica’s family received their chicken module two months ago!

Community building takes teamwork between generous donors, effective programs, and willing participants. Without any one of these elements, this kind of community strengthening can’t happen. But it is happening—and it’s exciting to see. With funding from partners like the Australian embassy, our programs are making a real difference in helping families in El Crucero to develop new skills and earn income.

El Crucero is full of success stories like Angelica’s:

  • Brenda sold the first pick of eggs and, from those earnings, she was able to purchase a pig that she’s now fattening up to sell later for a significant profit.
  • Leticia and Veronica received their chicken modules just two months ago and their families are able to eat fresh eggs for breakfast.
  • Veronica’s new livelihood has created quite the demand—her neighbors come to her house looking for the delicious bread she makes at our center. 

This means their children have food for today and hope for the future.

girl with rooster SM

Years ago, we tested this community-development program in El Salvador. An Australian official visited, was impressed with our work there, and spread the word. Our international office staff worked together, shared their experiences, and helped each other craft proposals and reports to send to others willing to consider supporting this program in additional communities. Soon we got funding for Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua too.

Cooperation is how this program began, and cooperation is how it thrives.

Teamwork, both between our international offices and with partners from Australia to Alaska, demonstrates that we are a competent and professional organization. We will continue collaborating with each other, with our partners, and with the communities we serve, so that we continue see people moving toward self-sufficiency and sustainability.

Together, our hope grows.

If you’d like to partner with us in providing hope, learn more about the chicken modules HERE.

Beyond Bowls of Beans: How We’re Defeating Hunger Overseas

Today’s post is the first in a four-part series introducing you to our proactive, sustainable approach to ending international poverty and improving livesOur Four Pillars—Food & Nutrition, Health & 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 Food and Nutrition pillar, where we work toward positive, lasting change by making nutritious food consistently available in some of the poorest communities in the world.

It’s not about shock and awe—it’s the truth: Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. So this is where we begin the battle. The development of positive, lasting change is untenable as long as malnutrition is taking lives—so our first step when we arrive in an impoverished place is to defeat hunger.

That’s a huge mission.

But we bring an arsenal of effective weapons and a precise strategy for defeating this enemy. Our approach in each situation depends on a community’s particular needs. So from Africa to Latin America to the Philippines to Haiti, we take aim where it’s needed most:

  • We construct or improve kitchens or feeding centers and energy-efficient stoves
  • We provide regular, hot, nutrient-rich meals through our school and community feeding centers
  • We offer nutrition education that includes the basics of achieving healthy, balanced diets, as well as training for children and adults about proper food preparation, handling, and storage
  • We distribute take-home rations, cooking pots, and utensils
  • We give agricultural training for the improvement of farming and irrigation, and we teach organic vegetable gardening to families, schools, and communities to help them establish and improve their own plots with healthful, indigenous produce
  • We distribute food supplements for pregnant and lactating mothers, deworming medication for children who can’t absorb nutrients, and vitamin supplements for malnourished children

And surely, steadily, with your help, we advance our cause.

school children at lunch in Guatemala

In El Salvador, we zeroed in on Ahuachapán, one of the country’s regions with the highest number of malnutrition cases among children under 12 years old. VitaMeal rice is a staple of our direct feeding program because it contains the vitamins and nutrients that malnourished children need to become healthy. We partnered with the Municipality of Ahuachapán, who brought in a nutritionist to work with the mothers of the 82 children who were starving in three of Ahuachapán’s poorest areas. We delivered 82 bags of VitaMeal, which she taught them how to prepare.

But this is not a one-and-done deal. We will continue to send each child one bag of VitaMeal every two weeks until they are no longer malnourished. Once all the children in those three areas are healthy, our El Salvador staff and the Municipality will move the project to other poor communities in Ahuachapán. And with every move, we win another battle against hunger.

In communities where we’ve implemented school- and community-based feedings such as these, we’ve seen attendance and enrollment increase more than 60%. This means that rather than spending their days scavenging through trash dumps or searching the streets for food, children come to school for the food they so desperately need—and with their meal, they also receive an education.

And education means hope.

Roxanna and her sister carry water for their family
Roxanna and her sister carry water for their family

Nine-year-old Roxana lives in the mountains, a treacherous 75-mile hike from Guatemala City. She and her six siblings crowd into a single-room cement block house with their parents, and her father tries to support them on four dollars a day by laboring hard to plant and maintain coffee trees for crop owners. Four dollars—the cost of a cup of coffee—is what Roxana’s father earns to harvest it.

They have no running water. The only water source the community has is a hike down to a tiny spring that they’ve rigged a rubber pipe to. The water is often dirty and sometimes they barely get a trickle. Several times a day, the women and children of the tiny community haul the water in jugs up and down the mountain. It’s a daily struggle just to get water—never mind food.

So our feeding center at her school is literally a life-saver for Roxana. Before we built the center, Roxana was severely malnourished. Now she and 130-150 other children receive regular, nutritious meals, medical care, and education when they walk through our doors. Roxana is fed—not just with food, but with hope. At school, she’s discovered that she loves math—she wants to be a teacher. And with a healthy body and hopeful heart, Roxana is a victory.

Hunger will not win.

A New Day At Feed the Children

It’s an honor for me to be a part of the Feed the Children team at a time like this.

We are feeding more kids in more schools than we did at this time last year.

We are growing our reach to serve more children and families in both our domestic and international programs.

The enthusiasm and talent of our dedicated staff grows each month that I get the opportunity to get to know them better.

I am a proud CEO.

But when I look ahead to what’s next for Feed the Children, four key initiatives come to mind. All four are underway today. 

1.    We are revamping domestic programs to build self-sufficiency.

Unlike our international programming, where Feed the Children adopts a community and develops a plan to bring it to self-sufficiency through our four-pillar approach, our domestic operations have largely centered upon emergency food programs through partner agencies and disaster relief. But this is changing. On this new day at Feed the Children, we want to be known as a US agency that digs deep and stays long in communities where children need us the most.

Soon we will begin after-school and summer feeding programs in several cities. We will also continue to strengthen our educational programming such as our backpack program for homeless students, but expand the efforts to include more collaborative work with local educators and school administrators.

Children from our school in Kenya
Children from our school in Kenya

2.    We are renewing our emphasis on child sponsorship.

In the past, Feed the Children asked donors to give $10 or $15 when they could, but we rarely asked for a longer term, more relational commitment to our mission. But this is a new day. Child sponsorship can connect those we serve with those who give to help support our mission. We believe in child sponsorship and are excited about growing this program because we feel our unique model works.

When you give $30 a month to sponsor a child through Feed the Children, the funds you give goes to the community in which your sponsored child lives. We do not create a system of “haves and have-nots” in which some of the children in the village are sponsored, receiving new uniforms and shiny pencils, and others are not. When you sponsor a child in a Feed the Children program, the entire community benefits from your monthly donation through clean water, nutritious food, healthcare and education.

3.    We are launching a new Feed the Children brand.

As has been the pattern with many in the non-profit sector, Feed the Children has kept to itself and done its own thing. It’s a new day, and we’ve stopped to examine ourselves, the problems we’re trying to address, and how we’ve been approaching them. Every day we are more convinced that going it alone is completely inadequate in the face of systemic poverty and hunger.

Today, we reject isolationism. We are actively seeking to partner with other non-profits working in the same area. For the first time in our history, we joined Interaction, the largest convener group of NGOs in the United States. This was a great first step. But a single step towards working together isn’t enough. We must make sure that our actions match our call to collaborate.

Soon we will launch our new brand and logo. The new visual identity and voice will better tell the story of the new Feed the Children. The needs of children around the world are great, and we can’t do this work alone. Be watching for some big changes in our look and tone of voice soon!

4.    We are focusing on internal and external customer service.

Customer service is an area in which most organizations of any size can improve. We are no different. We want everyone who comes in contact with us to feel seen, appreciated and valued, whether they receive some of our services, donate products or cash, volunteer, or work as an employee. We know that we need to do better.

Maya Angelou has said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I believe this is 100% true. If we are not being kind and hospitable human beings to one another in the process of feeding the bodies and nourishing the souls of one another, then what are we doing?

I’ll share even more with you about this area of focus later.

In the meantime, thanks for following and supporting our journey here at Feed the Children. We are glad to have you as part of our global family.

Kevin Hagan is the President and Chief Executive Officer for Feed the Children.