It was quite the catch-phrase in its heyday. “What would Jesus do?” appeared everywhere – wristbands, coffee cups, t-shirts, tchotchkes, and more. It was supposed to remind people of faith (or so the story went) to ask themselves what Jesus would do in any given situation and do that, rather than what the person would do.
Michael Boggs is a Dove-award-winning contemporary Christian musician formerly of FFH. He told Feed the Children it was in a conversation with a friend that he realized it. “What would Jesus do” does not get all the way into the heart of how Christians ought to look at the world and live their lives. He asked himself, “What would Jesus UNdo?” That question forced him to confront the pain and brokenness in the world – things like hunger, poverty, abuse, disease, and hopelessness. Michael says he believes that Jesus came to undo them. But not only that, he also believes that Jesus calls his followers to join him in the undoing. This is the inspiration for Boggs’ newest single by the same name: “What Would Jesus Undo?” In collaboration with Feed the Children, he is offering FREE downloads of the single for a limited time. Will you help spread the word about the free download and encourage your friends and family to join? Share this post on Facebook to invite your friends and family to join. Tweet it with the hashtag #WWJU. Post an Instagram of yourself with a sign showing what you would undo, and make sure you include #wwju in your caption! All photos tagged #wwju will appear in the photo stream below.
What do you think Jesus would undo? Tell us in the comments, and include how you think you might help undo it, too.
Last year I attended a conference of several thousand Christians who were engaged and wanting to learn more about the ministry of caring for orphans. Many of the attendees were adopted themselves or were adoptive parents. Most everyone in attendance had visited or prayed for an orphanage at some point in his or her journey.
You could easily leave such a conference floating on a cloud as if the ministry of caring for orphans (and widows) as directed by the book of James was the equivalent of laying in a bed of roses.
Not that there weren’t breakout sessions about the difficulties that older adoptive children face. I encountered adoptive parents walking the halls telling about their emotional battle scars of grueling attachment processes. But the general message of the event was “Love conquers all. As people of faith, we must learn to love orphans.”
It’s easy to believe this is all it takes: willingness to love. But during my visits with Feed the Children’s orphanages around the world, I’ve experienced a different story. Love, while essential, is not always enough.
In November, I spent time at the Dagoretti Children’s Center in Nairobi, one component of Feed the Children’s work in Kenya. On a sunny afternoon, I walked to the playground on the compound with about 12 children ranging in age from 3-12 years, both boys and girls. I was excited to jump rope and kick the soccer ball and hug these precious ones I’d previously only spent time with in more formalized programs.
And over the course of the afternoon, no matter what I did, there was not enough of me to go around. The children’s English language skills were still developing so instead of saying words I was used to hearing on a playground like, “Come push me” I got a lot of my name. “Elizabeth, Elizabeth!” they’d say.
I was constantly running between children. And for as much as I took individual time with one child to push her on the swing and be present in that moment of connection, there was another boy doing a flip on the monkey bars wanting the same attention. When I praised one girl for swinging really high, I could tell by the look on the others’ faces that my actions were making them sad. But this wasn’t a pouty, temper-tantrum manipulative reaction we’re used to seeing in the United States, but a soul-deep internal doubt that asked “Am I worthy?”
Sure, this playground scenario is similar to that faced by parents of multiple children on a daily basis. But these moments laid bare the danger of loving particular children in an orphanage. Even the mildest, most harmless display of favoritism (what any parent would naturally show his or her child) in an orphanage causes pain and suffering in all of the children there. It is not good to be known as “the favorite” in an orphanage – not if that child is to remain in the community of children.
Even as I hurt for these precious ones—what I experienced growing up in a two-parent home is something most of them will never have—I remembered that these kids are the lucky ones. In Kenya, many abandoned children live on the street. The children at the Dagoretti Center receive care, clothes, food and schooling. They live in cottages with housemothers and fathers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They have drivers to take them to school. When you see their faces, you see a hopeful future full of possibility.
Yet even with all of this “privilege,” their hearts still hurt. Even with the support teams the Feed the Children family has formed, even though churches send food and missions teams deliver toys, even though the caregivers in our orphanages love and treat the children like their own (which ours do!), even though we rescue more kids off the street and place them in homes like Dagoretti, it doesn’t heal the wounds in their hearts.
Orphan care is complicated, non-linear, and begs many questions. How do we get through to their hearts? How do we help orphans know, really know, that they are beloved? How do we heal the wounds they carry without creating more? It’s a big conversation, and we need your voice in it.
But despite the unanswered questions, we don’t want to leave you with no way to respond.
At Feed the Children, we like to write and deliver cards to the children in our orphanages. If you visit our break room in any given month, you’ll usually see a box of cards, a pile of pens, and a list of names so that staff can take just a few seconds to write a personal note to one of the children in our care. We would like to include you, too.
Write a note to a child in the comments below telling them you care, and we will hand-write them into cards and deliver them for you. In a few months, we will post photos of them receiving the cards, so you can see how a kind note to say that someone cares brightened their day. And please, share this with your friends, family, and coworkers. Let’s shower these children with affirmation!
Today, we’re honored to partner with International Justice Mission on the launch of IJM president Gary Haugen’s book “The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence.” When they spoke with us about the book and the video below, they asked us to share a story of the impact of violence on the children we serve. We immediately thought of a poem and story we received recently from Seintje Veldhuis, Feed the Children’s Regional Director of Operations and Programs for Africa. But before we share her words with you, please watch this video.
People ask me all the time, “How can one person make a difference?” And when they ask, I hear what they are saying. The problems of this world are so huge and our despair so great. It can be overwhelming. I know this from personally dedicating over 19 years of my life to communities in need in Africa.
However, in the end, I believe it is always just about one child. It’s about making a difference in one boy or girl’s life. It’s about doing what we can to ensure he or she has a better future. Acts of violence can steal the innocence of a child and take from them the security that all of us deserve to have.
I’ve seen this loss of innocence, security, and hope over and over in the children we serve. My years of work among the poor have taught me this: our work is to love.
I wrote this poem to introduce to you one of the babies that recently arrived at Feed the Children’s Abandoned Babies Center in Nairobi. She came to us because a senseless act of violence took her family away. Her story, while unique, is not completely dissimilar from many of those who come into our care. Without the support of Feed the Children, children like this would not have hope for a better future. With all our support, their future is boundless! We proclaim loud and clear that violence will not win, but hope does!
“Journey of Hope”
I was tightly wrapped in a blanket and my sister’s arm; newly born,
Mother next to me on a rough road, in a bus keeping me safe and warm.
Just discharged from the hospital, on our way home,
Hardship and poverty ahead, but at least not alone.
Before I could even make one choice
My family was housed in a slum, filled with junk and noise.
One sister wheel chaired for the rest of life
And a brother fighting AIDS to survive.
But all of us were building hope on Faith, the educated one we adore,
As she was completing this year in form four.
She was our only source of hope, for my brother in despair,
And my sister in wheelchair for my Mum with no income
Is there a way out from this slum?
Suddenly, I am shocked and shaken by a loud bang and blast
It all happened very fast,
No longer was I hiding in my sister’s embrace,
Or could I gaze on loving eyes of my Mother face.
People screamed, cried and died
The terrorists, El Shabaab were as killers identified.
I was later found by my Auntie as a miracle child.
She took me to ABC Home were everyone was so kind.
I was cleaned, fed, cuddled and loved from the very start
Though my beginning was forever marred.
I cannot tell you my real name, as I became the Media’s fame,
And news spread very fast about this criminal blast.
I don’t know why I was born in such misery
Losing my Mum and sister in this tragedy.
But terrorists who throw grenades and bombs
Will not forever murder babes and Mums.
As long as you will stand up, and join the voiceless loud and clear
Your work will shine, spark and speak without fear.
I have joined the homeless, fatherless and motherless just after my birth
But the poor of Spirit will inherit the Earth.
Feed the Children became Christ to me
As hope and light came into my tragedy
As I now walk the Journey of Hope with you today
Knowing that all children will be found and freed one day.
I will be found by a Mum and other Home
Dream of a better slum, and never be alone,
His Kingdom come,
His will be done
As it is in Heaven.
Seintje Velduis was born in Holland and has worked for Feed the Children for seven years. She currently serves as Interim Director of Operations and Programs – Africa, based in Kenya.
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.
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
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.
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.
The numbers are overwhelming. One in five American households with children were unable to put adequate food on the table at times during the year. One in eight people around the world regularly do not get enough food to live an active life. These numbers represent precious human lives and millions of children who lack what they need to reach their potential.
If you find yourself looking at these numbers, concluding that the problem is too big, and turning away, you aren’t alone. But just for today, don’t. Sit with it for a minute. Then know this: Hunger is a big problem both in the United States and around the world, but you can help.
We asked our staff to suggest simple things that ordinary people could do to help, not to feel better about ourselves but to truly make life better for the people around us who are going without.
Submitted by Jayme Cloninger
Leverage your skills in accounting, graphic design, business, etc., at your local community anti-hunger organization.
Submitted by Tony Forrest Sponsor a child in a developing country through Feed the Children. If you have them, involve your own children by sending letters and pictures to the sponsored child.
Submitted by Tom Davis and Jayme Cloninger
Track your grocery and other food costs for one week. Then take the Food Stamp Challenge, living on $4/day/person for your food, and donate the money that you save that week to a local food bank. If you can’t make it on $4/day, spend more, but commit to donating the same amount you would have given otherwise plus the amount that you went over the limit.
Submitted by Tamara Johnston and Justin Shumaker
Go in with your coworkers on a purchase from the FTC gift catalog.
Submitted by Jayme Cloninger
Host a movie night in your workplace, faith community or school to show a documentary on hunger (e.g., A Place at the Table). Follow up with discussions and brainstorming about what your group can do together to help.
Submitted by Kristen Mills and Minna Suh
Even if you don’t normally use cash, select certain purchases to pay for with cash this year. Save all the change (or, for an extra challenge, save your singles too). You will be AMAZED at how quickly this adds up.
Submitted by Hogan Thomas
Workplace activities are fun! Participants pay a small fee that you donate to a local charity. Here are some ideas to get you started:
sell 15-minute naps
host a game tournament (players pay a fee to participate)
allow employees to pay to take their dog to work
host a cook-off or bake-off (people pay to sample and vote),
host a Pay To Wear a Hat Day or a Wildest Tie or Most Outlandish Earring contest (entrants pay a fee)
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.
School-based Meals Bring and Keep Children in School
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.
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.
As a 30-something pastor already involved through my church in supporting relief and development organizations, I was leery of the big promises of an organization with such a wide scope. I opted to support and give to my local church and to other do-good organizations with which I had a personal connection—places where I was confident my dollar was being put to good use.
Yet, I supported my husband’s calling to lead Feed the Children (I’d never seen him so passionate about anything quite like this) and soon thereafter I said yes to my first field program trip in August of 2012 to Malawi and Kenya… only because Kevin asked me to go with him.
As we boarded the plane Africa-bound, I sought to have an open mind. Maybe it might be different than I imagined?
And it was. From day one, I began to experience some of the most pure and life-changing work I’d ever seen—though I’d already traveled extensively in the developing world, coming to Africa twice before. The Feed the Children I began to get to know personally surprised me.
I was surprised when I met some beautiful women in remote villages in Malawi who brought their toddlers to one of our feeding centers. I heard them say to me through translators, “Thank you so much. There is no other way we could feed our babies if you didn’t help us. Feed the Children is the only support network we’ve ever known that has stayed here for the long haul.”
I was surprised when I chatted with staff over cups of coffee in Kenya with so much light in their eyes. Their unbelievable dedication to improving the lives of children and deep spiritual core humbled me. I knew if I’d ever met a saint— these leaders were the real deal.
I was surprised when I visited a school in the slums of Nairobi and put shoes on the tattered feet of first graders. As I watched delight come to their faces, I couldn’t help but have Isaiah’s words come to mind: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” I realized these children could now live into their God-given mission of simply be-ing because Feed the Children facilitated this gift of school shoes to them. Wow.
And over the past seventeen months, as I’ve continued to travel to field programs in other regions of the world like the Philippines and Latin America with Kevin, the story has been the same. Feed the Children does amazing work and I am a changed woman. I now own at least five Feed the Children t-shirts. And no one paid me to write this blog.
I’m not saying that Feed the Children is perfect. It has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go in achieving its mission of ensuring that no child goes to bed hungry, but for now, this skeptic of a CEO’s wife is a super fan! I’ve seen the work. I’ve met the staff. I’ve hugged the kids. And I can tell you: these are good people doing amazing things!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“It is a terrible time for all of us here. We can only pray and hope that it will not be that strong when it finally gets to land.”
This was the last email we received from our Philippines office before Typhoon Haiyan struck on Thursday afternoon, November 7. We held our breath and prayed and waited through an agonizing 24 hours until finally on Friday night, our country director got a message through to us.
“We’re all safe. I am with our Feed the Children-Philippines team north of Cebu today bringing hot VitaMeal-based ‘champorado’ to typhoon victims here.”
In spite of it all, our staff persist. They are checking on all of the people in all of the communities we serve. They are driving mobile kitchens out into typhoon-devastated areas, serving hot food fortified with VitaMeal and delivering bags of rice and bottled water to children and their families. (VitaMeal provides an essential balance of nutrients for brain and skeletal development, skin health, and immune defense, prevents dehydration with electrolytes, and provides 25 vitamins and minerals.)
All of this work is saving lives today. But it isn’t the full story.
Because of our 25 years in the country, we also see the big picture and all it will take to recover what was destroyed. We helped build the infrastructure – the feeding programs, schools, water and sanitation systems, and livelihood projects – that now needs repair.
One island community where we work was completely leveled. We have signed up 320 children in this community the Philippines to receive a sponsor. As of November 20, 97 still need to be sponsored.
The Philippines needs assistance today; but beyond that, they need investors for tomorrow. We have been there for 25 years, and we are committed to staying for the long haul.
You Can Help
Perhaps you have been overwhelmed by just how massive the catastrophe in the Philippines is and thought, “I can’t do anything to help. The situation is too terrible for my small donation to make a difference.”
We have good news – you can help! When you sponsor a child from the Philippines, you not only invest in the health and education of that boy or girl, you also invest in their community as a whole. And in the wake of this storm, you can know that 100% of your sponsorship dollars will go directly toward storm assistance – rebuilding, repairing, and helping communities get back on their feet.
When she enters early adulthood, many of her friends discover self-sufficiency through work at a local factory. But she does not. Cerebral palsy limits her appeal to employers, and there are no laws protecting her from discrimination based on her disability.
The final pillar of Feed the Children’s approach to breaking the cycle of poverty — livelihoods — is out of her reach.
Disability prevents valuable participation in relief
An Army veteran who lost both legs in Afghanistan wants to impart the skills he learned while deployed. He joins an international relief organization, eager to teach civil planning in emerging nations. But he finds that countries with the greatest need for his skills are the least friendly to people in wheelchairs.
This wounded warrior’s wealth of hard-won experience can’t be shared because of the simple yet insurmountable roadblock of inaccessibility.
An international necessity
Each of these situations represents a breakdown at the most crucial point of a charitable process. And each is addressed by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities currently being discussed in U.S. Senate committees.
Ratification fell short in 2012 by just five votes. Feed the Children strongly believes the Disability Convention must be ratified in the current congressional session.
The Disability Convention contains provisions modeled after the United States’ own Americans with Disabilities Act, and it will bring the ADA’s spirit of justice and equality to all nations who sign on.
America’s gold standard for the treatment of disabled people will be exported across the globe, encouraging a uniformity of opportunity for those who need assistance in realizing their full potential.
A chance for America to lead by example
What the Disability Convention does not do is impose any added regulations on American businesses or private citizens. It simply provides a framework other countries can voluntarily use to bring their standards for treatment of disabled people up to our level.
So why should the U.S. lend its full support to this convention?
Because we are leaders who should be at the forefront of ensuring that opportunities are available to those with disabilities. Ratifying the Disability Convention will strengthen our credibility as we participate in international conversations that influence global legislation.
And as Secretary of State John Kerry says, we should set an example as we urge other nations to “be more like us.”
Vital to Feed the Children’s mission
At Feed the Children, we support that which supports our mission: providing hope and resources for those without life’s essentials. This mission extends to all who need our help.
We must not allow disability to keep people from self-sufficiency.
We must not allow disability to prevent those with hearts for service from serving others.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities won’t guarantee an easy road for the world’s one billion disabled people. But it will help organizations like Feed the Children fulfill our mission — for everyone.