Introducing the Kenya Food and Nutrition Team

By Paul Odongo

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSC_0145It’s mothers training mothers, and it works.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sanitation in Africa, Progress and Challenges.

Toilets are an important and essential part of our everyday lives, whether at home, at work or traveling. While access to toilets may seem like an obvious concept to many, especially for those who live in the global north, this is not so obvious in many communities in the global south, especially those in rural settings as well as those who live in urban slums and informal settlements.

There are people who go about their daily lives without access to toilets and who must compromise their dignity and privacy when nature calls. In some areas like the Kibera slums in Nairobi, most of the residents use ‘flying toilets’ – a plastic bag used to collect human feces since they do not have access to toilets. The filled and tied plastic bag is then discarded by throwing it far away or in a ditch or by the roadside.

Some communities in rural areas defecate in the open–they must go out in the bushes or hidden fields to relieve themselves. The practice is mostly rampant in poor communities that do not prioritize toilets.

At Feed the Children, we know that a lack of toilets leads to myriad serious sanitation problems. We understand exposure to fecal matter can lead to a long list of diseases and can cause infection; it also provides a breeding ground for parasites which affect many populations. We also understand that besides reducing infections, the sanitary importance of toilets offers an increased sense of dignity.

That is why we work to ensure children live in healthy environments. We do this by working closely with key partners to keep children free of disease through life-saving sanitation programs.

In Africa, we promote appropriate hygiene practices and health-seeking behavior among communities where we work. We do this in two ways; through the Care Group Model and Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS).

The Care Group model is designed to teach household-level behaviors to prevent maternal and child malnutrition and death. Feed the Children has used this model successfully in the Kibera slums.

While the Care Group Model works well in urban slums, the CLTS approach has worked well in our rural populations. CLTS focusses on ending open defecation as a first significant step and entry point to changing behavior.

Both CLTS and Care Group Model concentrate on the whole community rather than on individual behavior. They focus on igniting a change in health and sanitation behavior through social awakening that is stimulated by individuals from within the community.

Through these approaches, communities are able to adopt a range of behaviors such as stopping open defecation; ensuring that everyone uses a hygienic toilet; washing hands with soap at different critical times; and creation of household handwashing facilities among other key essential hygiene actions.

In Kibera slums, Feed the Children uses the Care Group model to promote essential hygiene actions with an aim to create individual and community behavior change in health, nutrition and hygiene.

For the past year, Feed the Children has taught communities in Kibera about safe disposal of feces, so that it does not contaminate the environment, food, or water. The three slum villages where Feed the Children has been working have been able to locate sanitation facilities, they have taught their neighbors about the importance of safe feces disposal to protect their own health.

Achieving Open Defecation Free Environments

In Malawi, our hygiene and sanitation programs using CLTS have witnessed significant changes that have been recognized by the government. We have been using CLTS as a first step and entry point to changing behavior.

We start by enabling people to do their own sanitation profile through appraisal, observation and analysis of their practices of open defecation and the effects they have. This often kindles a desire to stop open defecation and clean up their neighborhood.

Since 2010, the government of Malawi with funding from the Global Sanitation Fund has been implementing hygiene and sanitation interventions across the country with the purpose of making Malawi an Open Defecation Free (ODF) zone.

In December 2015, Feed the Children in Malawi through its work under the Global Sanitation Fund ushered the country’s third Traditional Authority into an Open Defecation Free status. Since 2010, Traditional Authority Chapinduka was the third to be declared ODF in the country. The success was credited to the work that Feed the Children and the District Council were doing in the area.

Apart from this community, Feed the Children has worked with several schools in the northern region, Rumphi district to ensure that they have sufficient toilets to cater for the huge student population. One of the school that Feed the Children successfully trained on CLTS is Chivungululu Primary school that had their toilets constructed by community members.

For more than five years, our office in Malawi has reached out to more than 82,038 community members with CLTS messages, we have seen 190 villages living in ODF zones and most importantly, and we have seen behavior change where community members take collective responsibility to ensure that each homestead has their own toilet that is properly constructed, covered and has a handwashing facility.

In the coming months, Feed the Children, Africa region will continue using CLTS in rural communities to end open defecation. We have and will continue working in partnership with other non-governmental organizations, corporates and the government to empower children and their communities to achieve self-sufficiency.

Helping Babies Thrive

At Feed the Children, we know that parents, particularly mothers, are the critical link to helping kids be healthy and well nourished, especially in the early months and years of life.

That’s why this week, Feed the Children’s office in Kenya joins the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Dietetic Unit and other partners to mark World Breastfeeding Week.

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated annually from August 1 to 7 to promote exclusive breastfeeding for newborns during the first six months of life. Experts say that exclusive breastfeeding yields tremendous health benefits, providing critical nutrients to children, helping protect from disease, and fostering growth and development.

“Breastfeeding is the single most important indicator for reducing the child mortality rate up to 80%,” says Clementina Ngina, Feed the Children’s Food & Nutrition Pillar Manager. “It is also one of the five indicators set during the World Health Assembly which countries likes ours are working hard to improve. Feed the Children is promoting exclusive breastfeeding as part of this effort.”

Feed the Children has long been involved in advocating breastfeeding of newborns and infants. Through our Care Group model, our staff is able to train a large number of volunteers who then work within communities to promote healthy nutrition for children, including breastfeeding.

Food stuffs classified according to their nutritional groups during the launch of Feed the Children International’s new logo in Lilongwe March 26, 2015. PHOTO FEED THE CHILDREN/AMOS GUMULIRA
Food classified according to their nutritional groups.

Our work is based on studies showing how critical the first 1000 days of a child’s life can be. We know that giving attention to a child’s health and nutritional needs during that period will help create a lasting impact in their lives. Our Care Group volunteers teach best practices to new mothers and expectant women to help them raise healthy and well-nourished children.

Through these Care Group forums, Feed the Children emphasizes the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Mothers and mothers-to-be are taught that breastmilk has the right proportion of nutrients to help babies develop well.

To commemorate World Breastfeeding Week, Feed the Children Kenya has worked with the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Dietetic Unit in partnership with members of the Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) technical working group. Feed the Children is a member of this working group.

During this week’s event, two educational materials are being launched, the National MIYCN counseling cards and the Baby-Friendly Community Initiative. Feed the Children actively participated in the development of both of these documents, and they will be a vital tool as our Care Groups continue to create a world in which babies can not just survive, but thrive.

News Roundup, May 9, 2016

Starkist Steps Up with Generous Gift to Feed the Children

6-2015 - CDR3008 - Del City Church of Christ Summer Feeding - Photog GThiets (20)StarKist® is joining forces with Feed the Children with a generous donation of $100,000. This gift will go a long way toward supporting our mission of making sure no child goes to bed hungry. In addition, StarKist is teaming up with Feed the Children during four community events over the next few months in Pittsburgh, Boston, New York City and Los Angeles.

“StarKist is a socially responsible company that provides healthy food for more people. One in five children goes to bed hungry in the U.S., and at StarKist we are committed to doing our part by getting our nutritious seafood products into the hands of children in need,” said Andrew Choe, StarKist President and CEO. “It’s an honor to work with the Feed the Children team. And we applaud this outstanding organization for its endless fight against hunger and its commitment to breaking the poverty cycle.”

Four community events are planned, and will kick-off in StarKist’s hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa. on Wednesday of this week. StarKist and Feed the Children are collaborating with FOCUS+ Pittsburgh charity to hold a community-fair style event where a truckload of food, essentials, StarKist product and more will be distributed to pre-registered attendees.

In addition to Pittsburgh, Feed the Children and StarKist will co-sponsor events in New York City (June 23), Boston (July 7), and Los Angeles (July 14) over the next couple of months, assisting local families in the area.

“Feed the Children strives to provide hope and resources to those without life’s essentials,” said J.C. Watts, Jr., Feed the Children President and CEO. “We are honored to partner with StarKist in the fight to end child hunger in America. Together, we can be our neighbor’s helper and truly help families in our nation’s own backyard.”

Kenya Care Groups Get Trained to Make a Difference

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 11.44.11 AM

Volunteer mothers who will work with Feed the Children under the Care Group Project in the slums of Kibera were recently trained on the objectives and focus of the project.

The Care Group Model is a program designed to empower a small number of staff to work with a larger number of volunteers, to help increase our reach and influence in vulnerable communities. These volunteers will provide key health and nutrition information to an even larger population of pregnant and breastfeeding women in their communities.

The project has seven promoters employed by Feed the Children. Each promoter is responsible for four care groups comprised of 10-15 lead mothers (volunteer mothers). These lead mothers will be meeting once per month in their care groups to learn key messages about health and nutrition.

During the recent training, the volunteers were taken through guidelines on how to carry out care group meetings with the mothers with whom they will interact. Participants were equipped with knowledge about the project’s core mandate and ways to go about having the meetings.

-Edna Onchiri

Truckloads of Help and Hope in Ohio

grf2

In the United States, the roots of hunger go deep. In Columbus Ohio, for example, 22 percent of households live below the poverty level and far too many children go to bed hungry. This is why The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation and Teleperformance partnered with Feed the Children for its annual Get Ready Fest™ —an event that provided 1,200 pre-identified Columbus-area families with wellness resources, food and essentials. The event took place late last month and is one of many that Feed the Children plans across the country each year to help feed bodies, minds and futures. It is made possible because of The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation, the generous donation of forklifts from Harr’s Forklift Service of Columbus, and additional product transportation by Americold.

Volunteers from The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation, including Malcolm Jenkins (Pro Bowler for the Philadelphia Eagles and ‘09 The Ohio State University graduate), Teleperformance, Lutheran Social Services, Columbus Urban League, Omega Psi Phi and Niagara Water were onsite to serve and assist the effort. Each family received a 25-pound box of food; a 10-pound box of much-needed essentials like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and personal-care items; and a box with assorted Avon products. Get Ready Fest™ also included several community organizations providing complimentary services and products, such as children’s books and youth haircuts.

“Feed the Children strives to provide help and resources to those without life’s essentials,” said J.C. Watts, Jr., Feed the Children President and CEO. “We are honored to partner with The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation and Teleperformance in the fight to end hunger in America.”

More community partners assisting with the event included Second Baptist Church, The Ohio State University Athletics, Omega Psi Phi, Concord Hotels, Columbus Food Bank, Campbells, Hirzel, L’Oreal, Columbus State Community College, The Ohio Academy-Paul Mitchell, Buckeye Health, 2nd and Seven Foundation, CHLOE. Inc., Big Brothers Big Sisters, Veteran’s Administration, Infant Mortality Task Force, LSS Ohio Benefit Bank, Niagara Water, Cliff Bar, Disney Books, Starkist Tuna and DJ by Giovanni.

Spring Fling in Oklahoma City

20160430_120705_resizedFighting hunger is serious business, but sometimes kids just need to be kids. We recently participated in a “Spring Fling” event at Crystal Lake in Oklahoma City. We had more than 800 children in attendance, with countless volunteers paired with those young kids. The event grew out of our after-school program efforts, which serve 850 children each week over 30 sites.

With a theme of “Superheroes,” we provided children with four new Disney books (Marvel, Sophia, Doc McStuffins, etc.), plus Captain America nightlights. We’re thankful to partner Whiz Kids for helping make the event happen, and to our President, CEO and resident superhero, J.C. Watts, was attending the event as well.

In Recognition of Autism Awareness Month

If you happen to walk through the Dagoretti Children’s Center (DCC) compound on any given day, you will bump into the many children who are residents of DCC. Some of the kids might hug you, and others may shake your hand with a big smile… while others might cautiously hold your hand and sniff it several times before walking away.

Some guests at DCC are taken aback by this unusual behavior; others may wonder if the children are being rude. What they may not know is that these children have autism, and that is their way of greeting and familiarizing themselves with new people.

The DCC hosts several kids with a variety of disabilities including autism, a mental condition that is characterized by difficulty communicating, forming relationships with other people, and understanding abstract concepts. The condition is present from early childhood.

April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to educate others about autism so as to promote inclusion and acceptance in the community. DCC’s Rehabilitation Coordinator, Stephen Muga, recently met with parents who had visited the DCC seeking therapy sessions for their children to talk more about Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“We share information with parents, staff and community members, because most people do not know about autism,” Muga said during the meeting.“We serve a population that is vulnerable, so they do not have first-hand information about autism.”

On a daily basis, the rehabilitation unit at DCC works with autistic kids and provides occupational therapy services by guiding kids through the activities of daily living, as well as speech communication and social skills training. The team works with children on sensory integration, having them experience various sensory stimulants to help them have an adaptive response in relation to their environment.

On a monthly basis, the rehabilitation team serves about 27 kids with autism. Muga says that kids with autism have difficulty in expressive communication, social skills, and everyday activities like brushing teeth or putting on clothes. Others have problems with fine motor skills such as writing. Some cannot write but are able to speak. The rehabilitation team uses each child’s areas of strength to build upon their life skills.

Apuka (2)He adds that there are high-functioning people with autism, such as Mandela, one of the autistic kids at DCC. “Mandela is incredibly smart and his autism is not always obvious to the untrained eye,” says Muga. While Mandela does not have developmental problems and he clearly articulates himself, he rarely looks at people in the eye and he will always sniff someone’s hand when greeted.

Muga emphasizes that children with autism are very different from one another. Some kids have extreme developmental delays, while others may be extremely intelligent in academics but may avoid eye contact or grow upset to changes in routine and lack social skills.

His message to all for this month’s autism awareness is the importance of understanding that each child or person with autism needs to be treated with an understanding of who they are.

Muga’s work at the DCC are possible only through support through people like you. Donate here.

Cooking Up Hope: Meet the DCC Catering Team

Feed the Children brings together caring individuals to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. We address childhood hunger by empowering children and communities to achieve self-sufficiency around the four pillars: Food & Nutrition, Health & Water, Education, and Livelihoods. Today we salute our staff who work tirelessly to ensure that children with different needs at the organization’s Dagoretti Children’s Center (DCC) in Kenya are well fed.

The DCC has been caring for babies who have been abandoned and providing professional services and care for children with special needs since 1993. The 8-member team based at the DCC works to ensure that the children living at the center (as well as staff who take care of the young ones) do not go hungry and are well nourished.

Each team member specializes in a specific skill, which when combined, form a well-oiled machine that churns out delicious nutritious meals. Some children require special diets to address their nutritional needs, especially those who were brought in malnourished. Our team makes sure these special children have what they need as well.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 6.58.06 AMThe team is composed of a nutritionist, a specialist baker, and experienced cooks. They prepare balanced meals for resident children, staff and guests–about 150 people on a daily basis. They also prepare special meals on an as-needed basis, such as when there are events or special occasions.

Some of the staples of the DCC menu include ugali (solid mixture of water and corn flour), rice, beans, vegetables, beef, fish, and cake–and on special occasions they prepare chicken, sausage, and other items.

Redemptor Agagi, who has worked with Feed the Children for over 14 years, leads the team. She is proud of her team, which she says has never let her down. She says that, like any other system, there are minor challenges, “but nothing that stands out that we haven’t been able to take care of, and I thank the management for always supporting us.”

The team members say they enjoy working at the kitchen and that it’s been a great experience. “When someone gets hungry, that person cannot be productive. Preparing meals that they enjoy and that helps them work well gives me satisfaction,” says Florence Mwangi.

News Roundup: Special Africa Edition

For today’s roundup we are highlighting stories from our work in Africa. Read on and be inspired!

Tanzania

The dawn of 2016 brought with it good tidings for children of Masanganya Primary School in Kisarawe district: it marked the end of a four-year period of going without meals while in school. The school used to benefit from mid-morning porridge, but this was halted due to challenges that made food preparation impractical.

Early this year, Feed the Children renovated the school’s kitchen, replenished the cooking utensils and provided foodstuffs to aid in preparing mid-morning porridge for more than 400 kids in the elementary school.

Both pupils and teachers are happy with the developments. “We are very delighted that this program has resumed,” said the deputy head teacher, Deus Kimpalamba. “You can see that the children are happy to have porridge during the break. Some of them come from home without breakfast, and having to spend the whole day hungry is very hard.” The mid-morning porridge is fortified with vitamins and minerals, so it improves the nutritional status of the children in addition to reducing their hunger and keeping them in school.

Photo above: A pupil at Masanganya Primary School enjoying a cup of fortified porridge.

Uganda

*2 DSC_0167
Feed the Children staff show a woman how best to hold a child when breastfeeding.

 

More than 100 mothers in Northern Uganda’s Amuru District were trained last month in infant and young child feeding. The one-day training took place at the Pabbo Health Centre in Gulu and was facilitated by Feed the Children staff and an officer in charge of the health center. The training helped breastfeeding and expectant mothers learn about infant nutrition. It focused on maternal nutrition during pre-conception and pregnancy, the importance of breastfeeding, position and attachment during breastfeeding, and an overview of HIV/AIDS and infant feeding.

The training was participatory and included demonstrations. The mothers appreciated the skills gained at the training. “I am very lucky to be here today,” said one mother. “Thank you so much Feed the Children for all the help you have offered to our community. I have benefitted a lot from this.”

Another mother spoke of her joy and asked that such trainings be expanded to reach more mothers. The training is part of Feed the Children’s Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) programs that aim to sensitize expectant and new mothers on proper nutrition and feeding of children.

Kenya

*3 DSC_0340
Yikiatine Primary School Headteacher (left) walks with two scientists from ICRAF through the garden in her school during the visit.

Feed the Children and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) representatives made their first joint field visit early this month in order to follow up on a gardening project introduced to Yikiatine and Makutano primary schools in the Mwala district.

The ‘Fruiting Africa project’ is funded by ICRAF and implemented by Feed the Children. It seeks to increase wealth and health of poor farming communities through enhanced cultivation, processing, marketing and consumption of a diversity of fruits and vegetables.

Scientists from ICRAF who joined in the trip were pleased by the progress of the gardens. Dr. Katja Kehlenbeck, one of the scientists with ICRAF, expressed her delight in the development of the gardens. “We are very happy to see this. We have seen some of your projects in Kajiado do well, and we are happy with this progress.”

The visit follows a training conducted in October to sensitize members of the Schools’ Management Committees (SMCs) on the different nutritional value of various indigenous vegetables and fruits. The training also covered proper land preparation and crop management for kitchen gardens as well as environmental conservation as a key to sustainability.

The schools in turn established the kitchen gardens and grew various fruits and vegetables including mangoes, onions, spinach, kale, bananas, guavas, lemons, paw-paw and custards, among other plants. “We got to learn that these fruits that we call wild are actually healthy, and we love them a lot,” said Makutano DEB Primary School’s head teacher, Eunice Mutua. The teacher said that some vegetables are used to supplement the diets in the schools.

Malawi

*4 IMG_5849
Children from Chapinduka carry placards in celebration of the attainment of the milestone.

It was a historic moment for Feed the Children and the Malawi government two months ago when Traditional Authority Chapinduka (a region of the country) was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). Since 2010, the government of Malawi has used funding from the Global Sanitation Fund to implement hygiene and sanitation interventions across the country with the purpose of making Malawi an ODF zone.

Five years down the line, two traditional Authorities in the country had been declared ODF free, and Chapinduka became the third (but the first in the Northern part of Malawi) thanks to Feed the Children’s intervention. It took Feed the Children one and a half years to achieve this milestone.

Gathering to witness the significant occasion were officials from the government of Malawi, Plan Malawi, Feed the Children staff, government officials from Rumphi district council and community members from Chapinduka. Chiefs from across Rumphi were also invited to witness the occasion and learn from their fellow chief how he made it with his subjects.

Traditional Authority Chapinduka is mountainous and only accessible by foot or boat. It has a population of slightly over 5,000 people. At the start of the project, 81% of the households had toilets and today, 98% of the households do.

A Gift for Justus

Justus was born with the odds stacked against him.

His family lives in a very poor community in Kenya. At just one month old, Justus was struck with meningitis which led to cerebral palsy. His mother, Gladys, struggled to care for him and her other children.

When Justus was six years old, his father abandoned the family, making a hard life even more difficult for everyone in the family. Gladys does the best she can, managing to find menial daily jobs to earn a little money. But as a single mother with seven children, including one with debilitating medical issues, it can be overwhelming.

She spent countless hours in hospitals, trying to find doctors who would look at Justus—in those rare times she had the money to afford such care. With an unreliable job and a family to care for, she was constantly stressed and worried about their next meal, let alone paying for medical bills and the family’s ongoing needs.

In the Kibera community where Gladys, Justus and their family live, folks are challenged financially… and in every other way.

Young people find their way toward criminal activities, drugs, and alcohol due to the high poverty levels, according to Purity Wanja, a social worker in Kibera. Sanitation is sorely lacking, with sewage water running freely and garbage strewn about.

At the age of 12, Justus was discovered by community social workers. He was crawling in the mud because he couldn’t walk. The social workers encouraged his mother to admit him to Feed the Children’s Dagoretti Children’s Center (DCC).

Once admitted, Feed the Children staff gave Justus a full examination and began an ongoing regimen of physical and occupational therapy. He was enrolled in the Dagoretti Special School to begin his education – Justus had never attended school before. In class, Justus learned the basics that kids around the world learn. He also received technical training in textiles and sewing.

And because Feed the Children supports keeping children connected to their families and communities wherever possible, Justus visited his family on weekends and during school holidays.

This work is only possible through your gifts–people like you, supporting children like Justus through donations, child sponsorship, or our gift catalog.

While in our care, Justus also began intensive therapy and underwent surgery to improve his mobility. The corrective surgery made his legs more flexible so he is able to walk better. The procedures also eased the pain which came along with his condition and made him more comfortable. In addition, he received a wheelchair, a pair of crutches, and some calipers to help brace himself as he walks.

And for Gladys and other mothers like her, Feed the Children gives professional advice on the care of children with disabilities. The social workers are in constant contact with the children and their guardians.

After completion of his technical course that was sponsored by Feed the Children, and once he’d met various milestones set by the rehabilitation team, Justus was reunited with his family in November 2010. But our work doesn’t end there—Wanja stays in contact with Justus and his family. Today, Justus is easy going and social, with a bright smile. He is friendly and polite, wonderful with children, and has a small babysitting business for friends and neighbors.

*7-2015 KE0009 - Justus (13)Now, at 23 years old, Justus just received another live-changing gift, thanks to Feed the Children and our supporters—a sewing machine. With this gift, he can take the textile training and expertise he gained at Dagoretti and use it to increase his livelihood—one of the four pillars of Feed the Children’s work around the world.

“I used to wish for one every day, but could not afford it,” Justus says. And his mother, Gladys, couldn’t be happier. “Everything starts from one step,” she says, “and this [sewing] machine is a step forward for Justus.” 

“The machine will be useful since now I can go ahead and work without waiting for help,” Justus says. “I have skills I can use.” 

And Justus’s new independence and self-sufficiency means Gladys now has more time to pursue her business interests. As we walked out of the house, she couldn’t contain her happiness for Justus in his business pursuits. She also seemed energized in her own quest for more income, despite the harsh conditions of their neighborhood.

Gladys concluded by saying, “I don’t know how I can repay what Feed the Children has done for us.”

We can’t do what we do without your support. Help a child like Justus today through a gift from our gift catalog. For just $75, you can provide care for a child with disabilities so they can move toward self-sufficiency and a bright future. Give today.

 

Merry Christmas from Around the World!

“This is your day, and we are here to celebrate with you.”

That was Rhoda Njue, Child Sponsorship Coordinator for the Feed the Children office in Kenya, speaking to children as she welcomed them to Christmas celebrations. Christmas came early for thousands of kids around the world, thanks to our dedicated staff and donors and supporters like you who made joyful celebrations and parties happen in the communities we serve.

Our mission is to provide hope and resources for those without life’s essentials. Essentials include necessities like food, clean drinking water, quality education, and a possibility for a good livelihood.

But joy is also essential.
Dignity is essential.
And for children, play is essential.

That’s why events like Christmas celebrations are so important. The children we serve are our heroes. They strive and struggle in ways that are hard for many of us to imagine. Holiday celebrations are a chance to let kids be kids, to set aside the chores, responsibilities and worries of everyday life.

You are an indispensable part of our work. When you make a gift to Feed the Children, you help ensure that we’ll be able to serve even more kids next year, giving them access to nutritious meals, sanitation, and opportunities for joy as well.

Here are just a few highlights of Christmas celebrations in our communities, with reflections written by staff in these regions.

 

HONDURAS

IMG_6551

Many of us spend our Christmas by giving gifts to friends, families and loved ones. Christmas is a time to spread joy and smiles, and Feed the Children does this in our sponsored communities. The celebrations started early this year, because some areas are so remote and hard to access when it rains–the rivers overflow, making it impossible to access some communities.

In the Nueva Esperanza community, some 99 children enjoyed a festive meal of fried chicken, rice, apples and salad.

And at the Community of La Cumbre Palmichal, more than 300 children were given a t-shirt, an apple, a bag of candy, and a healthy meal.

The glow on the childrens’ faces was memorable, as many of them don’t celebrate Christmas this time of year. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our wonderful sponsors and donors. Thank you.

-Mayra Humphrey

 

KENYA

-Kajiado Childrens Party -4-

Christmas came early for over 7,000 school children from 61 schools in Kajiado, Samburu, Turkana and Nairobi Counties. The celebrations were held on different days in November and early December before the close of the academic year, to celebrate kids under the Child Sponsorship program.

Elation was in the air as children performed, played games, and enjoyed specially prepared meals. Participating schools also received presents from Feed the Children, to great excitement from the kids.

And at the Dagoretti Children’s Center and Abandoned Baby Center, holidays are celebrated all month long with a whole calendar of activities, including a bounce castle, face painting, special story time, and BBQ and hot dogs on New Year’s Eve.

-Edna Onchiri

 

GUATEMALA

l6XN8Bn3yZEBKEHG7D7bPAyQsY2foRJhE_swyUk5azc,tQpvB8-QpTvaO6MhKhF5eBJZ8XiyJzey4sc25H5jHLs 

Throughout the month of December, the Guatemalan team has been celebrating Christmas with the children in all thirteen of our communities. For some, we received donations of Domino’s Pizza to share with the children. They were so excited—many of the children rarely get to eat pizza!

In other communities, the mothers pitched in some money and with help from Feed the Children, made tamales, which are traditional to eat during Christmas. In a few communities we were accompanied by volunteers who dressed as clowns and helped organize games and do face-painting with the children. All in all we had a lot of fun and hope we helped these children enjoy a special day. More than 1,690 were benefited in our communities.

-Claire Mocha

 

EL SALVADOR

*IMG_3842

When we think about celebrating Christmas, we think about what we can do for those we love: the hours spent shopping for gifts for loved ones; the extravagantly-prepared Christmas dinners we will share with our families. But it isn’t the same for people the world over. During these seasons, it is easy to forget that not everyone can take these comforts for granted the way we do. Some people around the world still live without access to reliable electricity and will spend Christmas in the dark. Too many parents are unable to afford a toy for their children.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

So this year in the community of La Lechera, Christmas came early, with people in El Salvador cooking for our 92 registered children on December 14th. These children were able to have a brighter Christmas with a nutritious meal and toys galore. Our field staff joined in the fun by participating in games such as three-legged race and pop-the-balloon.

Child Sponsorship Coordinator Meylin Quan was grateful for the chance to bring a little Christmas to these children on behalf of all of us: “I’m so happy because we were able to sprinkle some joy into these children’s lives.”

-Mayra Humphrey

~

What will Christmas 2016 be like for these children? The answer is largely up to you. Consider sponsoring a child, or consider a gift from our catalog, or make a one-time gift to help alleviate our shortfall.

And Merry Christmas!

 

Caring for the Whole Child: World Disability Day

At Feed the Children, we are committed to supporting the health of children—it’s a vital key in eliminating hunger around the world and helping kids be kids. As part of this work, the Feed the Children office in Kenya celebrated World Disability Day on December 3. We joined with Nairobi County Government, the Ministry of Health, and other non-governmental organizations to mark the day, held at Nairobi Pentecostal Church.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities began in 1992 to promote awareness and mobilize support for persons with disabilities. Events around the world draw attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all. The theme for this year’s event was ‘Inclusion Matters: Access and Empowerment for People of All Abilities’.

*DSC_0845

The Feed the Children office in Kenya has been providing care and protection for children living with disabilities since 1993.  Through the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) program, the organization provides thorough care to special needs children living at Feed the Children’s Dagoretti Children’s Center (DCC) and also to those living with their families in Nairobi, and Kajiado Counties.  The children living with disabilities and developmental delays have access to free occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and orthopedic services.

A child receives physical therapy from trained staff.
A child receives physical therapy from trained staff.

Through the generous support of Feed the Children sponsors, the project provides assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, calipers, and special seating aids, along with maintenance and repairs of those devices. We help put together forums to increase awareness of issues facing persons with disabilities and partner to prevent and treat various disabilities facing our communities. The project also partners with local hospitals to help children with the greatest needs undergo corrective surgeries, enabling them to live a decent and independent life.

Feed the Children also holds monthly workshops for parents who have children living with disabilities.  The workshops educate and equip parents with skills so they can help their children achieve optimal independence in activities of daily living.

To learn more about how you can sponsor a child, click here.