Feeding Bodies, Minds and Futures… in the Philippines

It’s August, and families here in the United States are preparing for children to go back to school. Parents across the country will spend August wandering store aisles while clutching school supply lists, or pawing through the bin of kids’ sneakers looking for the right size, or maybe ordering school uniforms online. And while we may grumble about the prices, many of us will be able to provide these items for our children without too much difficulty.

But imagine what it’s like not to be able to purchase the items kids need to be successful in school. That’s the reality for too many families, not only here, but around the world.

Meet Veronica and Ana, two teenagers who live in a large city in the Philippines. Both live in a poor area, with too much crime, drug use and violence. But both have stable homes and families, and their parents work hard to make ends meet. Veronica’s parents wake up early each and every day to cook food and package it for sale in their neighborhood. Ana’s father also works in the food industry, as a fish vendor. He doesn’t have much income left over after paying their bills, not to mention debts they owe to neighbors who loaned them money for their kids’ educational expenses.

Neither of these families has the luxury of extra income for school supplies. Veronica helps her parents with the food sales, but the allowance she receives never goes for fun things a sixteen-year-old might enjoy. Instead she spends the money—when she has some—on basic necessities for school.

Veronica and Ana are both outstanding students who deserve to have their dreams nurtured. Veronica doesn’t have a lot of books herself, but devours the ones she can access for free online. She hopes to take up business management if given the chance to go to college. She dreams of buying a restaurant for her parents to help their food preparation business thrive.

For her part, Ana is deemed “a brilliant child” by those who know her. As an honor student, she has received numerous awards and medals through her academic work. She likes art and music and enjoys writing poems.

Ana
Ana

Both of these young women deserve a good education, free from worry. That’s why Feed the Children helps provide nutritious meals, supplies, backpacks, shoes, and educational workshops to Veronica and Ana and so many young people just like them.

Before, Veronica and Ana’s parents could never get ahead in terms of saving income—every penny went to the basics. Now, with assistance from Feed the Children, and made possible through countless partners and donors, they can start to get ahead. Both of these girls will be looking at college soon.

“Feed the Children has been helpful to us,” says Veronica. “Because of them I am more motivated in going to school, and I am more focused on my studies in order to maintain my scholarship.”

“Feed the Children has done so much to help me,” Ana agrees. “I am so thankful that there is Feed the Children! Because of the support that I have gotten, I have learned to value my studies even more than before, and to work harder and to be even better in my studies.”

This work is only possible because of support from people like you. Help children build bodies, minds and futures. Learn more about our educational initiatives and give what you can today.

 

A Superabundance of Shoes!

We at Feed the Children are grateful for our ongoing partnership with TOMS and excited to share photos and details from our latest shoe distribution event.

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The event took place in Intibucá, Honduras, the mountainous region of the country. Intibucá registers the lowest temperatures in the country, making it ideal for growing all kinds of vegetables. Many women here use hand constructed wooden looms to produce traditional Lenca woven textiles such as ponchos, scarves, and shawls. And many enterprising individuals gather the fallen pine needles from the surrounding forests and weave them into sturdy and decorative baskets, potholders, and vases.

Still, the rates of poverty and child malnutrition in this area remain too high. Over time, Feed the Children has been developing relationships and deepening our capacity in the region. Most of these initiatives have supported our Health pillar. For example, we’ve partnered to provide Vitamin A and deworming treatments for children. We’ve distributed soccer balls (footballs) so that kids have quality equipment with which to play—helping build strong bodies, self-esteem, and positive relationships.

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TOMS shoe distribution is a key component in this ongoing community-building effort. All told, more than 40,000 pairs of good-quality canvas shoes have been distributed in the cities of Intibucá, Jesus de Otoro, Yamaranguila, San Juan and San Francisco de Opalaca. More than 160,000 pairs have been distributed in Honduras as a whole.

“Each delivery in each city is completely different, but the children in mountainous areas of Intibucá face particular hardship,” said Aaron Alonzo, Regional Donations Project Coordinator for Feed the Children Honduras. “The children’s feet were dirty because they have to cross muddy roads, even small creeks to get to school. Once they put on a new pair of shoes, the faces of the children seemed to glow! They were in pure bliss, jumping up and down with joy because they had a new pair of shoes.”

We’re proud to work with TOMS and are grateful for their generosity in Intibucá and so many places around the globe.

Bringing Hope to Nicaragua, Thanks to TOMS– One Foot at Time

We love when our partners get the opportunity to travel to the field to see how their contributions are changing lives.

 Recently, Morgan Loomis, our Director of International Partnerships traveled to Nicaragua with a delegation from TOMS—a committed partner of ours that provides new shoes to kids within our programs.

Morgan shared plenty upon her return.

Recently, Feed the Children hosted a Giving Trip in Nicaragua for a group from TOMS.

TOMS is in business to improve lives and wants to ensure their own team has the opportunity to experience this first-hand and see the impact their work is making.

I, along with local Feed the Children staff and the group from TOMS, spent a week in the field visiting communities and learning about our programs and 4-Pillar approach to development: Food and Nutrition, Water Sanitation and Health, Education, and Livelihoods.

Throughout the week, we delivered TOMS giving shoes, served meals, met with teachers and community leaders, and spent time playing with the children.

Though it was rainy season and extremely hot, I was so proud of how beautifully the TOMS staff interacted with the kids and community leaders we met during our journey. Everyone was so excited to see the work for themselves—through their eyes.

For me, personally, I loved the opportunity to interact with the hard working members of our field staff on the ground in Nicaragua. Our field teams are incredibly dedicated to our mission, but sometimes in the US we don’t truly understand all they do as they travel great distances every week to champion children in schools and at community centers. In Nicaragua alone, we feed nutritious meals to over 1,900 children in 20 communities and deliver school supplies to 1,200 students in 14 communities.

We met children in better health, doing better in school and with much hope for their futures. In community after community, teachers shared personal stories of the impact that they have seen on the children who receive TOMS and the glowing feedback they have received from parents.

Our team truly felt the joy of the children as we laughed and played with them. They love TOMS and Feed the Children for bringing shoes and the “shoemaking” team to them.

The visit gave the children an opportunity to meet TOMS staffers and make a personal connection to the individuals that support them.  This personal link is almost as important as the shoes themselves, because it truly makes the children realize someone truly cares and supports them.

We felt overwhelmed by the generous hospitality of the kids’ songs, poems and dances. Parents shared with our team later, how much the kids enjoyed playing games with the travelers and how special the visit made them feel.

TOMS groupOn our last day, the group spent the morning at Feed the Children’s Productive Training Center in El Crucero, delivering TOMS to children and visiting with the mothers. At the center, mothers are taught livelihood skills, such as training in vegetable production, baking, tailoring and poultry management. These skills not only allow them to provide food for their children, but are also an alternative income generation resource they can use to support their families in other ways.

Before we left, the volunteer moms surprised the team with a TOMS cake and expressed gratitude for their support. How cool was this!

TOMS cakeI came home thankful for TOMS and the privilege of working with the wonderful donors that support Feed the Children’s international programs.

Truly, one child, one pair of shoes at a time, we are impacting kids’ lives forever in Nicaragua, and around the world!

Championing Children in Haiti

Today we bring you a guest post from Jennifer Brandt who blogs over at Perfectly Disheveled about her work with Feed the Children last year and how she brought home the message of gratitude to her kids.

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Exactly two years ago this week, I came home from a 3 day trip to Haiti on a mission with Ladies’ Home Journal, Crocs Cares, and Feed the Children to deliver shoes to school children. It was the best time of my life and the worst time of my life. To travel so far and literally outside my comfort zone to a world I would have never imagined traveling to, and to be in a position to take some part (albeit, small) in helping children in need: The Best.

The worst: To be so far away from home and to know that when I do get home, teaching my child what gratitude really is, in a world where “I’m bored,” “Can I download”,” Can I have” is a part of daily dialogue and ignored because “He’s 7, so…,” or  “If you do X, you can have X,” or “Here, I’m tired…” And the list goes on…

Forget all the “how-to parent/breastfeed/make them sleep” books I’ve read or the “here’s how they should eat” classes I’ve taken. It’s become clear to me that THIS, teaching gratitude will be the biggest challenge I have as a parent. Which even when you think about, is LUCKY.

A woman a traveled to Haiti with from Feed the Children told me about their Sponsor a Child program that they’re working hard to raise awareness of. For $30 a month, a donation will:

-help provide nutritious and hot food for a child

-access to safe, clean water

-education and school supplies

-medical care

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Tonight I shared my goal of gratitude and giving with Jonah. Although I don’t know that he gets the severity of what true need means quite yet, I do feel like something resonated with him when we looked through the pictures of the children from all the different countries and could put names with the faces. He liked the idea of helping a specific child and he liked the idea that through Feed the Children, we can actually correspond with the child and get updates on their well-being. He kept going back to a boy in Malawi, exactly 3 months older than Jonah… he has no running water or electricity in his home but one day he wants to become President.

As I tucked J into bed tonight, he asked me if Malawi has a rich president. “Why?” I asked. “Because if he is rich, he needs to give people jobs. Have them build things. Like pipes and filters. Run the water to their houses. Someone needs to make a better system.”  Yep. They sure do.

To read her full post on Haiti head to her website.