Education Breaks the Cycle of Poverty

Today we take you to a mountain region in the Philippines, where many of the people make ends meet through a combination of menial jobs and loans.

Eleven-year-old Cherry lives there with her family: four brothers; a father who does construction and drives a motorcycle for hire; and a mother who earns money by doing stone crushing, a grueling job but one that’s common for that region. The family lives in a small house with a simple roof and bamboo walls and flooring. They have electricity, but no running water, which means they need to buy bottled water—another expense. They have a latrine and a small vegetable garden.

8As the only girl, Cherry can’t use her brothers’ hand-me-down uniforms for school—she needs her own. Her resourceful mother alters the uniform to make it fit a growing girl for an entire year. And as hard as things are sometimes, Cherry’s mother is proud that she’s able to feed her kids each day. Meals are simple though: rice, vegetables and fish.

There are times when Cherry and her brothers have all had to share a single pencil for their schoolwork, often sharpened down to the nub. They do their work on the back of old papers and other scraps they can find.

But today, Cherry is a Feed the Children scholar at her school. That means she receives supplies, shoes, and encouragement to learn. And she’s a bright girl and diligent student. With a tear in her eye, she says she plans to graduate with honors and become a teacher so her mother never has to crush stones in the river again.

But Feed the Children provides more than just direct aid. We help train and empower parents to save money wisely so they can have a better future.

Like many families in this region who struggle to make ends meet, Cherry’s parents often took out shady loans from local loan sharks. The terms of these loans can often lead to an endless cycle of dependency and debt.

But Feed the Children has been working to end this cycle by creating local savings and loan programs, whereby members of a community come together to pool and save money and create loans that have lower interest rates.

Community people and parents are learning that you don’t have to have a bank book in order to have savings. They have the capacity to save, given the right guidance in managing financial resources. Many are realizing that they can secure their family’s future if they save.

You can be a part of this important work through your gift. To learn more about our work in the Philippines, click here.

A special thanks to Healey Jo S. Rosell for providing the content for today’s story.

 

 

Country Spotlight: El Salvador–Hope Is Hatching

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food & Nutrition

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

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

Health & Water

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

Education

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

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

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

Livelihoods

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

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

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

 

It All Starts with a Chicken

In order to help kids be kids and not worry about where their next meal comes, we must build sustainable solutions to the root causes of poverty.

We can’t simply feed children. We must teach children how to feed themselves.

To do this, caregivers must learn new skills in how to invest in their children’s future. At Feed the Children this is why our efforts to create new livelihoods in communities where we serve is so important. Sometimes this means teaching better agricultural practices. Sometimes this means offering training in an activity like sewing or bee keeping. Other times it means providing livestock to communities with education on how the products obtained can better kids lives.

Consider Loresho Primary School located in the Westlands Constituency of Nairobi, Kenya.  Located in the heart of the city, this is a school that Feed the Children has a longstanding partnership with. For several years, (thanks to our government advocates and donors) we’ve provided a hot meal for each student every school day. Often times this is the only meal that these children receive all day.

But, more needed to be done. Recently we delivered 500 chicks to the school. Out of the number delivered, 100 were a contribution from parents of the school with the means to do so.

Prior to the delivery, several planning meetings were held between Feed the Children in Kenya and Loresho Primary School Management Committee (SMC) where a memorandum of understanding was signed on each party’s responsibility about the chicken project. Investment in the project was very important from teachers, parents, children, as well as Feed the Children.

image 4Upon delivery, Feed the Children staff placed the chicks in a specially constructed poultry house that is well fitted with infrared lamps in the brooder area to provide a convenient heat source for them.   The brooder area is an enclosure that will serve as the chicks’ home to provide them with a warm environment until they mature.

To ensure the success of the project for the most number of children, the school committed to breed the chicks watching their progress closely. For example, the chickens will receive clean water, proper ventilation, and regularly cleanings by the children.

Looking ahead, it is expected that the chicks will mature and start laying eggs in the next six months.  Feed the Children staff will monitor and support the school until they start laying eggs. Going forward the school will accept responsibility for the the project.

Once the chicks mature and start hatching, the produce will be sold to parents of the school and surrounding community.  Children in the school will also have eggs as part of their school diet.  Proceeds from sales will be used to supplement the purchase of food for the school-feeding program.

This chicken project ensures that the children at Leresho Primary School both have more protein in their diet as well as income for the most nutritious of foods in the future! And other schools in the area are excited about participating!

It’s truly a big win for all the children: one chick at a time.