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.

“Thank You 4Life!” Twelve-Year-Old Mercy Brings Greetings and Inspiration to Foundation 4Life Convention

Imagine flying on an airplane for the first time, bound for a foreign country you’ve never visited, to give a speech to 7,000 people who speak eight different languages.

Now imagine doing that at the age of twelve.

Last month, twelve-year-old Mercy was selected to represent Honduras and her community at the 4Life International Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Foundation 4Life has been a partner with Feed the Children since 2010 and has supported our Food & Nutrition programs in several countries. In addition, Foundation 4Life has adopted two communities to provide everything from school supplies and new classrooms to projects supporting livelihood development.

Mercy’s adventure began on the airplane, her first ever, during which she peered out the window at cities, rivers and even rooftop swimming pools—a very different vantage point from her usual one from a car, bicycle or on foot in her community.

During her layover in Miami, Florida, Mercy experienced firsthand the cultural melting pot of hair and skin color, wardrobe, tattoos and body piercings that exists in the United States—sights and experiences she had only imagined or seen on TV.

B4SeZhVBdY7u4XdAdAnj8WKJYCWjc-SJ77uCqSE5GgsOnce in Salt Lake City, Utah, the host city for Bring Dreams Home: 4Life International Convention, Mercy was given the royal treatment—a hotel room with a view, meals from restaurants and many exciting adventures. Her favorite experience was seeing penguins, sea otters and other sea creatures at the Living Planet Aquarium. Although she missed the comfortable heat of her native Honduras, she was very excited to feel the fresh snow that fell during her visit and covered the ground like a “white carpet.” Like so many girls her age, she captured the experience with lots of photos and selfies, and she made fast friends with Bea, another teen ambassador who was bringing greetings and thanks to 4Life on behalf of her community in the Philippines.

Heidy Mejia, Regional Communications Specialist in Honduras for Feed the Children, accompanied Mercy to Salt Lake City. In her account of the trip, Heidy wrote, “Seeing Mercy enjoy experiences that many people consider normal—boarding a train, an airplane, an elevator; opening the room of the hotel with a card instead of a key; automatic water faucets, a nice bed, a bathroom with warm water in the mornings; cornflakes with chocolate milk, a good piece of cake—you realize how great these simple pleasures can be when you aren’t used to them.” Heidy also marveled at the ways Mercy and Bea became immediate friends and could communicate with one another despite not speaking a common language.

FUnYZfX-8lAQ0pDatTkpSK1fdwjMQ1aykLr4AeGInOI-NL9mzJEtUiztCUWa5LGp5n1Otvp2leWaFjQqR9UNqjYWhen it came time for Mercy to speak during the convention, she stood on the stage with Bianca Lisonbee, 4Life Co-Founder and Vice Chairwoman of the Board, and Cynthia Gerlinger, winner of the “At the Heart of it” service award. The theme of the 4Life convention was “Bring Dreams Home,” and Mercy brought that message to life as she thanked the gathering for supporting her community through development projects, education and food:

Good afternoon 4Life! My name is Mercy and I’m from Honduras.

Thanks to your donations, the school in my community has a feeding center, a vegetable garden, a recycle center, new bathrooms, an incinerator and two new classrooms!

There are a lot of children, mothers and families who benefit from the donations that you make to Foundation 4Life.

You are the answers to our prayers. Your donations are the progress of my community.

I dream of becoming a doctor someday and, like you, help other people. Thank you for everything you do… THANK YOU 4LIFE!

WSfJNkLWXmZESiTY2jhtN7ZyIQK7ZF2HJofSWjvfmTo-1rwlQj20Q5y1w0OnH9nUycqBVRxtSeuSjJqRAy6GXV8“From the moment of her speech, she was an instant celebrity,” wrote Heidy. “People wanted to take pictures with her and talk to her. People gave her a lot of advice, asked her many questions about her experience with Foundation 4Life, and told her to reach for her dreams to help others.”

“All these memories and experiences were possible thanks to the support of Foundation 4Life, the people who donate to the foundation, and Feed the Children,” said Heidy. “People think that they are helping a hungry child with food, but it’s more than that. More than they can imagine.”

 

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).

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.

Jennifer has found her smileiagain

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.

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.

How We Make Sure Kids Do Not Get Hungry Again

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

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

Why livelihoods?

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

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

***

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

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

Women in El Salvador preparing tilapia to be sold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love this project? Give a goat today!

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

Hunger Headlines- Week of September 25

See what is going on in the world of hunger this week. Check out these headlines:

Thought Leadership

Leadership Lesson: What Questions Are You Asking?

Feed the Children President and CEO Kevin Hagan writes this week about what forward-thinking organizations are all about: being curious. Though it might feel easier to assume or project to others that we have all the answers, Kevin says that we must be willing to ask great questions. Read more about some of the questions Feed the Children is asking itself, right on Kevin’s blog.

Poverty News

The U.S. is losing a generation to poverty

This week, when the United States Census Bureau released its poverty data for the year 2013, it showed the first significant decline in poverty since the Great Recession hit: down from 15 percent to 14.5. Greeted more cheerily by economic observers was the news that child poverty had made its biggest drop in years: down almost 2 whole percentage points. It was better news than observers expected. It’s all relative, though, and enthusiasm was qualified. These numbers are still higher than they were before the recession. Read the rest of the article at The Daily Beast.

Hunger News in the U.S.

Who can afford to eat healthy food in the United States?

We all know that good food for kids comes in the form of fruits and vegetables. But what if families don’t have access to these kinds of food? What if families who do have access to these kinds of foods can’t afford to buy them? A new study examines what it takes to eat well in the United States. Read more about this study on Business Cheat Sheet

Hunger News around the World

World hunger easing but 1 in 9 people undernourished: food agencies

Who is hungry in the world? The number of hungry people in the world has fallen sharply over the past decade but 805 million, or 1 in 9 of the global population, still do not have enough to eat, three U.N. food and agriculture agencies said recently. The number of chronically undernourished people dropped by more than 100 million, equivalent to a country the size of the Philippines, according to a report by the United Nations food agency (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP). Read more of this article on Reuters.

Brazil Removed from UN World hunger map

Do you know what countries are on the UN hunger map? You can download it here

The Brazilian government Tuesday hailed a new United Nations report that for the first time removed Latin America’s biggest country from the World Hunger Map. “Leaving the Hunger Map is a historic milestone for Brazil. We are very proud because overcoming hunger was a priority for the Brazilian state,” Social Development Minister Tereza Campello said in a statement. Read this article on ABC News.

Hunger Headlines- Week of September 8

See what is going on in the world of hunger this week. Check out these headlines:

Thought Leadership

Leadership Lesson: The Burden and Blessing

Feed the Children President and CEO Kevin Hagan writes this week about his responsibility as a leader. It’s a blessing he says to interact with thousands of children across the world who are blessed because of our programs, but he also feels the burden to do more! It’s a conviction that he hopes our staff around the world also feels. Read this post on Kevin’s blog.

Poverty News

Gap in Diet Quality Between Wealthiest and Poorest Americans Doubles, Study Finds

Although the study found that the diet of all Americans improved on average between 2005 and 2010, the progress masked a decline in diet quality among the poor. The result: a doubling of the gap in diet quality between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest. Access to quality food at supermarkets is a key. Read this National Geographic article.

Poverty rate higher in suburbs, than cities, including Seattle area

When we think of poverty in the US, our mind often goes to the inner city, assuming that poverty is concentrated in urban area. However, a new study released recently states otherwise. From 2000 to 2011, the number of Americans living below the federal poverty level ($23,492 for a family of four in 2012) rose about 36 percent, to 46.2 million. Contrast that with the number of suburban poor, which grew 64 percent. Read more in the Seattle Times article

Domestic Hunger News

America May Have Worst Hunger Problem of Any Rich Nation

According to Gallup’s findings, cited by the OECD, Americans are far more likely to say they were unable to pay for food than citizens of other rich countries. In 2011 and 2012, 21 percent of U.S. citizens reported food trouble, versus 8 percent of British survey takers, 6 percent of Swedes, and 5 percent of Germans. Estonia and Hungary had bigger problems with food affordability than the U.S., but both are relatively poor among Global North nations. Read the rest on Slate

Food-Stamp Use Starting to Fall

After soaring in the years since the recession, use of food stamps, one of the federal government’s biggest social-welfare programs, is beginning to decline. 46.2 million Americans received food stamps in May (the latest data available), down 1.6 million from a record 47.8 million in December 2012. Some 14.8% of the U.S. population is on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, down from 15.3% last August, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Read more good news on the Wall Street Journal.

International Hunger News

World Water Water Week: Five Countries Most Affected by Water Scarcity

At Feed the Children, we celebrated World Water Week August 31-September 5 with many other organizations. The World Water Week was instituted by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) in 1991 to raise awareness on water issues. Do you know the five countries most likely to face drought? Educate yourself. Read the International Business Times article here.