Working Together Behind the Scenes: Meet the Malawi Warehouse Team

Feed the Children in Malawi is widely known for its feeding programs that take place across the country in more 840 community-based care centers and orphanages, as well as pediatric wards in targeted clinics.

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Every month, with support from Nu Skin–a longtime partner of Feed the Children–the organization receives a donation of at least 83,000 packets (2kg) of VitaMeal porridge to distribute to children in various communities across Malawi. In addition, Feed the Children also receives packets of water purifier each month, and pairs of TOMs shoes every six months.

These vital supplies need to be distributed to a variety of sites, which is where the warehouse team comes in.

These dedicated individuals are responsible for storing the supplies at the Feed the Children office in Malawi, then packing and loading them for delivery throughout the central and northern regions of the country. The five-member team consists of four men who are responsible for loading, and a woman who serves as warehouse supervisor and team leader.

The team works tirelessly to make sure they beat their monthly targets, thus ensuring that the needs of the children are met time and again.

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Edith Kafuwa, the warehouse supervisor, joined Feed the Children in 2009. She was there for the initial set up of the warehouse at Feed the Children in Malawi. Kafuwa is passionate about her work and is inspired by the fact that what she does has a bearing on the wellbeing of more than 80,000 children.

“Every single working day I wake up at home and travel for about 35 kilometers to get to my work place,” she says. “[I do it] for the single reason of contributing towards creating a world where no child goes to bed hungry.”

When asked what it was like to work as the only female in a group of men, Kafuwa says she has learned to build a good working relationship with her team. She says teamwork is the key–when everyone is clear about their roles, they’re able to deliver results.

We’re thankful Kafuwa and the rest of her team work so diligently each and every day to make sure children have the food and nutrition they need. It takes all of us working together to lend a hand to people without life’s essentials. To give the gift of VitaMeal, check out our gift catalog.

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

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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

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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

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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.

Happy World Water Day!

Happy World Water Day!

To celebrate this important day, we want to introduce you to Lashiwe. She lives in Malawi in a small community we serve. The majority of the population live in mud- and grass-thatched houses, with a few in brick and grass-thatched houses. There’s no electricity, so residents depend on batteries and solar sources of power.

Before Feed the Children began working in the community, proper hygiene and sanitation practices weren’t part of day-to-day life: washing hands after toilet use, throwing garbage in a designated pit, covering the toilet after use to prevent flies, and covering drinking water to prevent contamination. The people simply didn’t know to do these things.

Yet their kids would get sick regularly, and parents didn’t know why. Lashiwe’s mother, Maria, would wonder why her children seemed to suffer from such chronic intestinal distress.

The UN World Water Day was instituted for children just like Lashiwe—to raise awareness of the importance of fresh water and to encourage people to work for clean water around the world. The World Health Organization estimates that 783 million people live without access to safe drinking water, and some 2.5 billion people—almost a third of the world’s population— lack sanitation facilities.

We work hard each day for children like Lashiwe. One of the four pillars of our international work is Health & Water. Clean water and proper sanitation are vital to thriving communities.

It doesn’t matter how healthy a child’s diet is, if all they drink is dirty water.

In fiscal year 2014, Feed the Children’s water projects benefited more than 63,400 children and families, providing them with clean-water systems such as wells, water lines, and rainwater-catchment systems. We built school toilets that benefited more than 4,600 pupils; and provided direct clinical care to more than 19,300 individuals through its dedicated staff and volunteers.

Through care group sessions organized through Feed the Children, Lashiwe’s mother Maria received vital training in hygiene and sanitation. She learned to make hand washing facilities for her house and how to clean her home most effectively to reduce disease. She learned the importance of having a garbage pit for her house, and how to cover the toilet with a drop hole cover.

Today, Lashiwe and her friends are healthier and happier, with disease outbreaks greatly reduced. “We are grateful to Feed the Children for introducing water, hygiene and sanitation interventions in our community,” Maria says. “My family will never be the same again.”

And what does Lashiwe say? “I like washing my hands using this system!” And what child doesn’t love to splash around in good clean water?

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How will you celebrate World Water Day? One simple way is to be aware of how much water we use in the United States, and how different that is from many places around the world. The average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. On average, approximately 70 percent of that water is used indoors, with the bathroom being the largest consumer (a toilet alone can use 27 percent!).

Water’s one of those things that’s easy to take for granted. Most of us turn on the faucet without a second thought, and our daily shower is just another chore, not a moment for gratitude. But even something as simple as washing our hands can be a moment to pause and be aware of the abundance so many of us enjoy.

Feed the Children makes it easy to put your awareness into action to help children just like Lashiwe. Read more about our Heath & Water projects, and shop our gift catalog for gifts that will bring the gift of life-giving water to children, families, and communities around the globe.

A Well in Malawi: In Celebration of #WorldWaterDay

“Water is life. Children are the leaders of tomorrow. Thank you Feed the Children for investing in our future generation.” -Josophat

Around the world, more than 780 million people lack ready access to clean, safe water. For some, this means traveling many miles for hours each day to fetch water from a remote well. For the people in one village in Malawi, it meant encountering contaminated water once they got there.

While the village had a deep, machine-dug well not far from the community, for more than ten years this well had no cover. People would throw items into the well. Dirt and sand would blow in. People were getting sick.

“My children were greatly affected with the unclean water,” said Irene, mother of two young children. “I would spend weeks in hospital with my first born son because of diarrhea. It was a sorry situation.” At times the women would resort to drawing water from hand-dug wells, but the effects were worse.

The women of the village also came to see the well as a hazard in their midst. It was harrowing just to stand beside it and peer down into it. Children could easily fall in.

For years the people of the village tried makeshift remedies for the exposed well—wood planks, sheets of iron—but they were no match for the fierce wind and elements.

Things are different today.

Last June, Feed the Children helped install a well cover to enable community access to clean and safe water. It was a true partnership—the community provided bricks, a contractor offered expertise, and Feed the Children furnished materials and coordination. Malawi’s Ministry of Water was also involved, offering technical support.

Today the community is enjoying unlimited access to clean and safe water. More than a hundred families fetch water from this well. The well is located close to the Community Based Child Care Centre (CBCC) which hosts 61 children who are also accessing water from the same well. Hospital visits have decreased. Children can learn, grow and be kids.

Parents now have greater peace of mind and the time to focus on other initiatives to improve the community. These programs include Village Savings and Loan groups, helping improve community members’ financial status. A care group program promotes behavior changes at the household level in hygiene and sanitation, nutrition and breastfeeding.

Eunice Maxwell draws water from an unsafe well
Eunice draws water from an unsafe well

“My life has greatly improved, thanks to Feed the Children,” said Eunice, a mother of four. “Because of Feed the Children, my family drinks clean and safe water, and going to fetch water is not a burden for me anymore. I have enough time to do my house chores and also rest. Before, I used to spend long hours at the well just to fetch water.”

This Sunday is World Water Day, and we’re inviting you to celebrate the this community’s success and make that same change possible in other places around the world. Our gift catalog makes it easy to donate.

For the cost of a bottle of water a day, you can provide a water filter kit for a entire family. Does your office have a water cooler? For the same price, you and your co-workers can come together and provide a hand-washing station for a community to help prevent disease. Give today.

Emergency Relief Coming to Malawi

Malawi, one of Africa’s poorest countries, experienced torrential rains this week, resulting in rampant flooding due to late summer storms.  Although this is the region’s rainy season, Malawi has not seen flooding like this since 1964.

These deadly floods submerged villages and destroyed crops and livestock.  This disaster is especially devastating because 8 of every 10 Malawians earn a living through agriculture.

An estimated 200,000 people have fled their homes, finding themselves suddenly without access to food or shelter.  Already, almost 200 people are reported missing or dead.

Feed the Children currently operates community-based programs in more than 625 communities in Malawi and its team on the ground plans to focus its initial relief efforts in Nsanje, Chikwawa and Salima, three districts designated as priority areas for assistance by Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management. Feed the Children’s efforts in Salima district will benefit from our strong program presence in that area and our ability to mobilize there quickly.

Working in partnership with Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management, we are swiftly responding to this disaster with the help of Nu Skin’s Nourish the Children (NTC) Initiative and Proctor & Gamble. We are distributing tens of thousands of bags of Nu Skin’s VitaMeal to provide meals for the displaced.

If you would like to support our organization as we provide relief to Malawi flood victims, please visit our website.

(Image above from the UN).

Choose handwashing, choose health — Global Handwashing Day 2014

Today marks Global Handwashing Day. Begun in 2008 by The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW) with support from the United Nations, today over 200 million people in 100 different countries will commemorate the day with educational celebrations. Their goals are to:

  • Foster and support a global culture of handwashing with soap
  • Shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing in every country
  • Raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap

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Every year, 1.7 million children do not live to celebrate their 5th birthday because of the devastating affects of diarrhea and pneumonia.  Handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrheal diseases and pneumonia.  This simple behavior can save lives, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost one-half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by nearly one-quarter.

Feed the Children is happy to join in these celebrations throughout the world so that even more kids can reach their 5th birthday and beyond!

These are some of our plans for celebration in Africa.

Kenya

In Kajiado County, Feed the Children will partner with teachers and school administrators at Kajiado Township Primary School in Kajiado County to talk to the children about the use of soap.

Children get handwashing lessons in the Dagoretti Center, Kenya

Children get handwashing lessons in the Dagoretti Center, Kenya

In Turkana County, Feed the Children will join partner at Lorugum sub-county headquarters to mark the day with handwashing demonstrations while in Nairobi County, personnel from government ministries and our staff will visit six schools under the school meals program to provide similar lessons on handwashing.

Our staff that serves at the Dagoretti Children Centre (DCC) in Nairobi will hear a presentation from our on-site nurses. The nurses will share tips with the childcare workers, not only for handwashing, but also how to prevent the Ebola virus.

If you would like to invest in educating more people about preventing Ebola, learn more here.

Malawi

In the Rumphi district in the northern region of Malawi, the district Council and other partners will join Feed the Children to commemorate the day through a Global Sanitation FUND project. Feed the Children is also contributing financial resources toward the events.

An outdoor handwashing station in Uganda

The Global Sanitation FUND project in Malawi is one of many that teaches children and families about the benefits of handwashing all year, not just on one day. In every one of the 847 communities we support in this country, we have installed handwashing stations and toilets. We are teaching the value of cleanliness and have installed handwashing facilities outside each of the toilets so that children learn from a young age the value of washing their hands.

Eliya washes his hands after using the toilet at his parents’ home in Central Malawi. Image Credit FEED THE CHILDREN/AMOS GUMULIRA, October 9, 2014
Eliya washes his hands after using the toilet at his parents’ home in Central Malawi. Image Credit FEED THE CHILDREN/AMOS GUMULIRA, October 9, 2014

Another way we make sure everyone learns how to wash their hands properly is through our Care Groups, a model originally developed in Mozambique by another organization and pioneered by our Chief Program Officer and others. Through Care Groups, the average improvement in handwashing behavior increases twice as fast as it does with any other approach.

The Care Groups model helps communities take on some of the responsibility for lifting themselves out of poverty, empowering people to contribute their own time and resources to the work. In this model, we work with communities to form a “Neighbor Circle” of 12 households, each of which selects a member to be their “Care Group Volunteer.” All of the Care Group Volunteers meet regularly for training from Feed the Children, and then in turn pass along the training to other households in their Neighbor Circle. In a Care Group program that one of our staff members supported, malnutrition dropped by 38% in less than two years and child deaths dropped 29%!

Kenya - boy shows clean hands after washing

Through these Care Groups we have educated communities on the importance of hand washing with soap at all critical times, including before and after eating or serving food, after changing a baby’s diaper, and after handling food.

We have seen an improvement in handwashing behavior in most of the communities we are working with. Handwashing with soap is still a challenge in some communities, but with repetitive teaching, we are making great progress and fewer kids are getting sick.

Happy Global Handwashing Day, everyone!

 

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).

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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.

Malawi: Something to Be Excited About

A Conversation with Trevor Moe, Senior Director of Government and International Relations

For us at Feed the Children, it’s always exciting to hear stories from the field first hand—whether it is from those who are on the front lines of defeating hunger in communities where we work or from our staff visiting programs in countries different from their own.

Recently, Trevor Moe, Senior Director of Government and International Relations based in Washington DC traveled to Malawi with Edna Onchiri, Public Relations and Communications Manager in Kenya. He came back thrilled about what he saw and experienced, and we thought you’d like to know about it too.

1237155_10201627258700445_1527329178_nBEYOND: Describe your role at Feed the Children and why you visited Malawi this month.

Trevor: In our Washington DC office, I wear a number of hats connected to both our domestic and international program offices. But the two main goals of my position are 1) business development—to help fewer children go to bed hungry around the world 2) public policy—to influence those in positions of leadership to make decisions that care for the most vulnerable among us. I went to Malawi under the umbrella of business development – to find out how we can do our work more effectively there.

In Malawi, our programs receive funding from three sources: corporate donors (we are especially thankful for our partnership with NuSkin), private donors, and U.S. government grants. We received a USAID grant for our work in Malawi that continues through 2015 and recently we received a grant to support some of our water programs.

The scope of my trip focused on how we can continue to be good stewards of all of our partnerships.

BEYOND: What about your visit to Malawi surprised you?

Trevor: I was surprised by how kind and welcoming the people were to me, an outsider. They say that Malawi is the friendliest country in Africa, and now that I’ve been there, I have to agree. Strangers on the street came up to talk, genuinely interested in me and my visit there.

I also was surprised by how devastating the poverty was! The people have so little. Children in Malawi are at risk of dire malnutrition. As a nation, they are eager for help, for knowledge, for methodology—for any wisdom that could improve their lives.

BEYOND: What do you think our donors would most like to know about our work in Malawi?

Trevor: I’ve been a lot of places in the Global South, but what I most want to say is that the work we do in Malawi is wide-reaching and very effective. We serve 842 communities! Feed the Children is fighting hunger all over Malawi in places others are not.

And I learned this: every child who receives deworming medication anywhere in Malawi gets it from Feed the Children. We are on the front lines stomping out hunger. Donors, you should be proud of the world you are creating there!

BEYOND: As you reflect on your trip now, what are the hopes of the people of Malawi? What do they want for their future?

Trevor: I think Malawians want what everybody wants for their lives. They want a better life for their children. They want to know that their kids will be taken care of and have opportunities to grow up strong.

In one of the villages I visited, I met William who is a carver. I asked him what he hoped for and he told me, “I want be able to provide for my family a tin roof.”

I asked, “Why that?”

“A tin roof would keep my wife and my two boys dry during the rainy season.”

He wants a tin roof. That’s all.

BEYOND: Anything else you want to share with us?

Trevor: I love my job. Every day, I’m seeking to connect resources to the Williams of this world. People who have dreams the same as I do and who just want to have a better life.