This is one of the central messages of the upcoming feature film DO YOU BELIEVE? opening around the country March 20. The cast includes Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin, Cybill Shepherd and Ted McGinley and is a project of Pure Flix Entertainment, the creators of last year’s God’s Not Dead. The new film tells the story of twelve strangers and the ways their lives intersect with one another to create positive change in their lives and communities.
We’re excited that Feed the Children has been selected as a charity partner for the film. Kevin Hagan, CEO of Feed the Children, says, “DO YOU BELIEVE? is a must-see film! It’s filled with so many truths of the power of love and the importance of not giving up on those who seem too far gone to help or save. At Feed the Children, we are in the business of not giving up—no matter how daunting the problem of child hunger is. We see on a day-to-day basis how one person, with God’s help, can forever alter the future and lives of people.”
Putting one’s beliefs into action isn’t just the message of DO YOU BELIEVE?—it’s a guiding principle behind Feed the Children’s work. We believe that kids thrive when they have access to food, clean water, a quality education and the chance for a better future. We put that belief into action through the work we do every day. But we don’t do this work alone—we partner with individuals and organizations around the country and world.
Like the couple who is signing up to sponsor a child because they believe in using their resources to make a difference in the life of a young person halfway around the world. Or the mother buying Easter gifts for her family who decides to shop from our gift catalog, because she’s committed to creating lasting change for a community in need.
Like parents and community members in Haiti meeting together in care groups because they believe community collaboration is the best way to overcome poverty.
Matt Panos, chief development officer of Feed the Children, says, “DO YOU BELIEVE? is a ‘celebration of grace’ and an important reminder for how we should love and care for our neighbors. It’s a real-life depiction of how believers and non-believers interact in everyday life with the subtle thread of Biblical teaching for how we, as Christians, should act toward each other and toward a world that is watching us.”
Join us at the movies… and in partnership as we put belief into action, so kids can be kids.
To do this, caregivers must learn new skills in how to invest in their children’s future. At Feed the Children this is why our efforts to create new livelihoods in communities where we serve is so important. Sometimes this means teaching better agricultural practices. Sometimes this means offering training in an activity like sewing or bee keeping. Other times it means providing livestock to communities with education on how the products obtained can better kids lives.
Consider Loresho Primary School located in the Westlands Constituency of Nairobi, Kenya. Located in the heart of the city, this is a school that Feed the Children has a longstanding partnership with. For several years, (thanks to our government advocates and donors) we’ve provided a hot meal for each student every school day. Often times this is the only meal that these children receive all day.
But, more needed to be done. Recently we delivered 500 chicks to the school. Out of the number delivered, 100 were a contribution from parents of the school with the means to do so.
Prior to the delivery, several planning meetings were held between Feed the Children in Kenya and Loresho Primary School Management Committee (SMC) where a memorandum of understanding was signed on each party’s responsibility about the chicken project. Investment in the project was very important from teachers, parents, children, as well as Feed the Children.
Upon delivery, Feed the Children staff placed the chicks in a specially constructed poultry house that is well fitted with infrared lamps in the brooder area to provide a convenient heat source for them. The brooder area is an enclosure that will serve as the chicks’ home to provide them with a warm environment until they mature.
To ensure the success of the project for the most number of children, the school committed to breed the chicks watching their progress closely. For example, the chickens will receive clean water, proper ventilation, and regularly cleanings by the children.
Looking ahead, it is expected that the chicks will mature and start laying eggs in the next six months. Feed the Children staff will monitor and support the school until they start laying eggs. Going forward the school will accept responsibility for the the project.
Once the chicks mature and start hatching, the produce will be sold to parents of the school and surrounding community. Children in the school will also have eggs as part of their school diet. Proceeds from sales will be used to supplement the purchase of food for the school-feeding program.
This chicken project ensures that the children at Leresho Primary School both have more protein in their diet as well as income for the most nutritious of foods in the future! And other schools in the area are excited about participating!
It’s truly a big win for all the children: one chick at a time.
We’ve told you that to end childhood hunger, we need to empower children, unite forces, and attack the problem from all angles and that it takes all of us in the fight: donors, experts, organizations, communities and leaders.
But we haven’t yet told you more about values. At Feed the Children, these values motivate us:
Challenge convention: we believe that a future without hungry children is possible.
Defend dignity: we believe in treating each child and family in the communities where we work with value and worth.
Champion partnership: we believe collaboration is the only way to end childhood hunger.
Value every donor: we believe in donors playing an active role in ending childhood hunger.
Drive accountability: we believe in making changes when something isn’t working and building on the success when it is.
When some look at this list they may ask, “What happened to the word ‘Christian?’ Wasn’t ‘Christian’ one of your values before? Are you no longer a Christian organization?”
To answer these questions, we need to tell you bit more of our story.
In 1979, a group of Christian leaders sensed a calling to care for, protect, and feed children in need around the world. They read the exhortations of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 25 to feed “the hungry” and give water “to the thirsty” and provide “clothes” to those without.
In response, these Christians knew they needed to act. How could they not? Collectively, they began raising support and organizing leaders toward this cause, eventually founding the organization called Feed the Children in their hometown of Oklahoma City.
For over 35 years, Feed the Children has served thousands of communities all over the world and in the United States motivated by this same fact—Jesus teaches all of us to look after the most vulnerable citizens of this world.
And we’ve done so without discrimination. We’ve fed children with Christian parents. We’ve given water to children in Muslim nations. We’ve helped children learn in the slums of Central America. We’ve given children permission to dream big for their future in America’s inner cities.
We’ve done so because it is the right thing to do. How can you see a hungry kid and turn away? Jesus couldn’t. And many of our employees have joined our team out of their own faith calling. They work tirelessly on behalf of the children not only because they believe in the mission that no child go to bed hungry but because it is what Jesus said to do.
This is our faith story: Feed the Children is a show, not tell, organization.
The great saint of the church, Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”
This is why you no longer see the word “Christian” in our values statement. We believe we don’t need it.
In fact, we believe all of our value statements reflect who Jesus was and what he taught:
Didn’t Jesus challenge convention when he overthrew the money tables in the temple courts?
Didn’t Jesus defend dignity when he pushed the unlikely to the front of the line: the women, the children, and the sick?
Didn’t Jesus champion partnership when he chose 12 followers to journey alongside him for his teaching ministry on earth?
Didn’t Jesus value every donor when he taught the 5,000+ gathered on the mount and then fed them a plentiful meal too?
Didn’t Jesus drive accountability when he challenged the popular teachers of the day who were more interested making a dollar than they were caring for souls?
For these reasons and many more, our team is proud of our brand values. To live into a mission that loves, protects and defends kids is a worthy and exciting calling.
We believe the world needs more Christians who put feet to their faith and act on what they believe. Or as James 1:22 tells us, “Do not merely listen to the Word of God, but do what it says.”
This is most what we want you to know: Feed the Children is motivated by Jesus’ teachings every day. But you won’t find us congratulating ourselves from the mountaintops. With every child we feed, with every parent and caregiver of children we empower, with every community we engage with hope, we seek to BE Christ’s hands and feet in the world.
“It’s who you know” — it’s conventional, nearly cliché advice for succeeding in the workplace and in life. Career counselors, speakers, and advice columnists all say it. Network, meet people, do favors and be helpful so you can ask for favors later. It works, both to get ahead and as a safety net when things go wrong.
When Americans think of being well connected, they think of things like job offers and big breaks — things that grease the wheels and make life in the middle class smoother.
But when you delve into the causes and contributors to poverty, you discover that connections aren’t just a nice-to-have. Knowing the right people protects you from being bullied and taken advantage of by landlords, business people, and employers. It also makes justice more likely — knowing the right people helps encourage the police to listen to and address your complaints when you’re mistreated.
“But,” you may protest, “those of us with means don’t enjoy complete immunity from injustice. We’re still lied to, stolen from, and mistreated by employers.”
That’s true. But we have the resources to defend ourselves and connections to those who can help us. We can rally friends and even get the media’s attention if we need it.
For example, a few years ago, my family had an insurance company try shameful and deceitful tactics to avoid paying a claim. This dragged on for months until we finally threatened to go public. They paid because we had the connections to give that threat teeth. When a friend found herself the target of a frivolous lawsuit, her network quickly produced an attorney who got the lawsuit dismissed pro bono.
Poverty and Lack of Connections
People in poverty don’t have connections.
It’s hard to say which comes first, the lack of connections, the injustice and abuse, or poverty. But people under the poverty line lack family and friends to turn to when something breaks, a boss treats them unfairly, or a landlord tries to cheat them out of money. It’s a cutthroat world where people don’t play by the rules because no one is there to make them.
The United Nations defines poverty like this: Poverty is “a human condition characterized by the sustained or chronic deprivation of the resources, capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.”
Listen to their stories. You’ll see it — to live in poverty is to live on the edge of catastrophe with no safety net, no recourse, and no back-up plan.
Several years ago, I met Mala in Sri Lanka. She lives at the end of a deeply rutted dirt path a few miles from the nearest real road. She told us through an interpreter how she skipped meals for months to save the money to purchase a piece of land closer to the main road. Moving her family closer to the road would make it easier to get her kids to school, and she knew that was the only way for them to have a better life than she had. But the landowner took her money, and then sold the property to someone else. Mala went to the police, but the landowner paid them to ignore her report. He stole her hard-earned money, and she lost the land.
Mala had everything – the drive and determination, the discipline to save, the savvy to find a piece of property — except one critical ingredient: she didn’t know the right people.
But this doesn’t have to be the story.
One of the most important ways Feed the Children fights poverty is by becoming a connection to resources, safety nets, and justice when it’s needed.
We help women like Elena. She lives in Honduras with four children, Edwin, Miguel, Francisco, and Leiry. After she was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis, her husband left her and their kids for another woman (he said she complained about bone pain too much!). He refused to send money for the kids, so with a debilitating illness and no recourse to demand child support, she had to send her kids out to work, trying to sell snacks at bus stops. Sometimes they went a week without food.
But thanks to generous donors who helped start Feed the Children’s feeding programs in Honduras, she was able to get help. Today, one of her sons is grown up, the two other sons are thriving at a residential school for boys, her daughter is finishing 5th grade, and Elena and her daughter receive food and dry rations in exchange for cooking at the local feeding center.
We also helped Anne, who lives in Kenya with two children, a son and a daughter. Anne’s husband lied to her about a previous marriage and his status as HIV positive. She found out that both she and her son also had HIV when the boy was admitted to the hospital and received a blood test. Fortunately, she learned how to care for herself during pregnancy so her daughter is HIV negative. At age 3, her son lost his sight and shortly after, her husband left her.
Anne went into hiding, ashamed of her HIV status and overwhelmed with her son’s special needs. Without food, without income, and very sick, Anne was desperate. A friend told her that Feed the Children was running a support group for people with HIV and was giving out food. Once she had regained her strength, they invited her to attend weekly meetings where they encouraged the attendees to start doing something that could make money. Anne learned how to make beadwork and today, she makes beautiful pieces that she sells to Feed the Children and to couriers who sell to tourists.
She told us, “At the time when I first met Feed the Children officials, I was so down, hopeless and just didn’t know what to do with my life. Remember, I was hiding from the world because of my status. I didn’t have food or money. I was desperate. Feed the Children gave us food, yes, but what I really want to thank Feed the Children for is the skills training that they imparted on me and other ladies too who were in a similar situation like mine. These business skills are the best. My children never lack food, and they are going to school. Do you know that my special child would never have gone to school? Feed the Children has gotten me out of poverty. I don’t want my children to be like me. I only studied until sixth grade.”
Feed the Children Connects People
When you support Feed the Children, you help connect people like Elena, Mala, and Anne to the resources they need to make a better life. They can’t do it on their own. When kids and their families meet Feed the Children, they finally have someone to turn to and the boost they need to build momentum towards self-sufficiency and away from dependence. We help parents find ways to support themselves so their kids can go to school instead of working. We help kids get the food they need to grow and learn. We help communities become strong enough to help each other so they don’t need us anymore.
Our future lies with the children. The young without limits. The spirited who dream big. The hopeful who envision a better world, a world where no child goes to bed hungry.
It’s a simple statement, one we can all believe in. Food is essential to all, yet out of reach for many. Without it, our children can’t think. They can’t do. They can’t thrive and they can’t dream. Kids are the heroes of the story, and hunger is their Kryptonite.
Childhood hunger is deeply rooted. It’s an invisible enemy, ruthless and deadly, maiming and even destroying childhood. It’s not easy to defeat.
Some provide food to those who need it, when they need it. Others attack the root cause. Most try to do it alone.
This is not enough. To only feed perpetuates the cycle of poverty. To attack the root cause neglects those in need today. To believe one organization can do it alone is hubris and simply maintains the status quo.
At Feed the Children, we know that to end childhood hunger, we need to empower children, unite forces, and attack the problem from all angles. It takes all of us:
Donors to believe in the cause
Experts to diagnose the problem and innovate solutions
Organizations to pool their resources and expertise
Communities to work together toward sustainable success
Leaders to institutionalize change
It takes the power of many standing with the children to fight childhood hunger, to defeat the status quo.
This is the fight we have chosen. We chose it, not because it is easy, but because it is the right thing to do. Because our children need someone to fight with them and for them.
Because it is the only way to ensure that one day, no child goes to bed hungry.
Join our fight to defeat hunger and help kids be kids.
A Conversation with Trevor Moe, Senior Director of Government and International Relations
For us at Feed the Children, it’s always exciting to hear stories from the field first hand—whether it is from those who are on the front lines of defeating hunger in communities where we work or from our staff visiting programs in countries different from their own.
Recently, Trevor Moe, Senior Director of Government and International Relations based in Washington DC traveled to Malawi with Edna Onchiri, Public Relations and Communications Manager in Kenya. He came back thrilled about what he saw and experienced, and we thought you’d like to know about it too.
BEYOND: Describe your role at Feed the Children and why you visited Malawi this month.
Trevor: In our Washington DC office, I wear a number of hats connected to both our domestic and international program offices. But the two main goals of my position are 1) business development—to help fewer children go to bed hungry around the world 2) public policy—to influence those in positions of leadership to make decisions that care for the most vulnerable among us. I went to Malawi under the umbrella of business development – to find out how we can do our work more effectively there.
In Malawi, our programs receive funding from three sources: corporate donors (we are especially thankful for our partnership with NuSkin), private donors, and U.S. government grants. We received a USAID grant for our work in Malawi that continues through 2015 and recently we received a grant to support some of our water programs.
The scope of my trip focused on how we can continue to be good stewards of all of our partnerships.
BEYOND: What about your visit to Malawi surprised you?
Trevor: I was surprised by how kind and welcoming the people were to me, an outsider. They say that Malawi is the friendliest country in Africa, and now that I’ve been there, I have to agree. Strangers on the street came up to talk, genuinely interested in me and my visit there.
I also was surprised by how devastating the poverty was! The people have so little. Children in Malawi are at risk of dire malnutrition. As a nation, they are eager for help, for knowledge, for methodology—for any wisdom that could improve their lives.
BEYOND: What do you think our donors would most like to know about our work in Malawi?
Trevor: I’ve been a lot of places in the Global South, but what I most want to say is that the work we do in Malawi is wide-reaching and very effective. We serve 842 communities! Feed the Children is fighting hunger all over Malawi in places others are not.
And I learned this: every child who receives deworming medication anywhere in Malawi gets it from Feed the Children. We are on the front lines stomping out hunger. Donors, you should be proud of the world you are creating there!
BEYOND: As you reflect on your trip now, what are the hopes of the people of Malawi? What do they want for their future?
Trevor: I think Malawians want what everybody wants for their lives. They want a better life for their children. They want to know that their kids will be taken care of and have opportunities to grow up strong.
In one of the villages I visited, I met William who is a carver. I asked him what he hoped for and he told me, “I want be able to provide for my family a tin roof.”
I asked, “Why that?”
“A tin roof would keep my wife and my two boys dry during the rainy season.”
He wants a tin roof. That’s all.
BEYOND: Anything else you want to share with us?
Trevor: I love my job. Every day, I’m seeking to connect resources to the Williams of this world. People who have dreams the same as I do and who just want to have a better life.