Making a Difference, Step by Step

At Feed the Children, we’re passionate about the community development work we do around the world. It’s gratifying to partner with leaders within a community, identifying the areas of greatest need and working together to implement solutions.

It’s also tremendously challenging. Helping lift a community out of poverty takes years, and it takes a variety of approaches. It’s a series of small steps.

Take Abdallah, a fourteen year old living in a remote area of Tanzania. We’ve made great progress there since getting involved in 2013—but there’s lots more to do. And with your help, we’re committed to partnering with his village for the long haul.

Abdallah lives with his mother, three siblings, and two cousins in the coastal region of Tanzania. The air is humid, but the sun is scorching hot. The road leading to his home is dusty and lined with long grass as well as coconut and mango trees.

Abdallah’s family lives in a small house, with a roof made of dried coconut tree leaves and walls of locally-made red bricks. There’s no electricity or running water, which is typical for the town. The family has access to a pit latrine not far from the house.

The community depends on subsistence farming for their food, buying household items like sugar and tea in the local shops. Most people in the community are not employed—they do casual jobs like home construction.

Sofia, Abdallah’s mother, was only able to attend school through the second grade. She is now a peasant farmer who grows cassava, vegetable, and peas for the family’s use, and makes money by tilling other people’s farms. She earns about $2.30 US each day.

Sofia is proud that she’s been able to feed the family at least one meal a day, but feels sad that it’s often not more than that. The family meal is typically at night and consists of Ugali (a solid mixture of corn flour & water) with vegetables or beans. Occasionally the harvest is good enough that the family enjoys three meals—but that’s a rare luxury.

Feed the Children’s first entry point to the community was in 2013. We began providing mid-morning porridge to every child in school. The porridge is formulated to be filling and full of vitamins to ensure that kids receive essential nutrients. For children like Abdallah, this may be the first meal they eat that day.

We’ve also helped outfit the kids in the village with shoes provided by TOMS, with school supplies and textbooks, and with a rainwater harvesting system. Before construction of the system, kids like Abdallah would carry a 5-liter container of water to school every day for their use.

According to the head of the school, the transformation has been remarkable. The children now have increased motivation to attend school regularly, and they are concentrating in class, completing school, and moving on to high school.

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Abdallah is growing well and it looks like he will be a very tall boy, according to his mother. He likes to study and his favorite subject is science. He also adores football and dreams of becoming a professional football player. “The porridge Abdala gets in school is important,” his mother says, “because I think when he is in class, he can listen to what the teacher is saying. He is also happy and active and plays his football without worrying about hunger.”

Abdallah’s on his way to a better life. But the work isn’t done.

For example, the textbooks we’ve provided are a good start, but there aren’t enough for the kids to take home and study on their own. The rainwater system helps, but the tank only holds 15,000 liters—good for about two months unless the rains are abundant.

Teachers have begun dreaming about a safe, fenced area for the kids to play, and have asked Feed the Children for help with balls, goals and other sports equipment.

We are committed to Abdallah’s community, and want to make those dreams a reality. With your support, we can do just that. Learn more about our work in Tanzania, and make a gift to support children like Abdallah.

 

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.

Do It for Ally

The need is urgent—and the time is now.

You have just three days left to make a donation to Feed the Children so it can count as a tax deduction for 2015. More importantly, your gift today will go five times further, thanks to the generosity of our corporate partners. Each dollar you give provides $5 worth of food and essentials for hungry, hurting children and families.

For more than 35 years, Feed the Children has worked to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. We can’t do it without you. But together, we can work miracles. During the last fiscal year, Feed the Children distributed some $78 million in food, other necessities, educational supplies, and medicine to children worldwide. And folks like you sponsored 11,500 children.

Together, we are helping kids be kids. But our work isn’t done. We’re currently experiencing a shortfall for 2015, so we need you more than ever.

*7-2015 TZ0002 - Ally 1Ally is just one of the children we serve. A student at one of our partner schools in Tanzania, he knows firsthand the impact of Feed the Children’s work. Just five years ago, his fellow pupils were suffering from a rash of stomachaches. Kids were missing school—of the 418 children enrolled, some 20 students were missing lessons in any given week. Other kids were kept home because their parents worried about them catching the illness. Latrines were dirty and substandard. And the school had an inadequate water supply—children were being asked to bring water from home for their personal needs.

Today, it’s a whole new situation. 

  • Feed the Children has installed rainwater harvesting systems by setting water tanks at school. This has helped children to easily have water in school.
  • Feed the Children has kept water buckets closer to latrines for hand washing after kids have visited the toilet and has helped educate the community of the importance of hand-washing.
  • Feed the Children established a school feeding project, in which kids in the school are receiving mid-morning breakfast.
  • In partnership with TOMS shoes, Feed the Children has been distributing shoes in the school.

“We thank Feed the Children for assuring our school becomes a safe environment for children,” said one of the school’s head teachers. “We thank Feed the Children for their tireless efforts, and for continuing to be part of us.”

Ally is grateful for the turnaround too. “Without Feed the Children, water tanks would not be here, and even the hand-wash project wouldn’t have happened. You have saved the lives of many children, and rescued the academic performance of our village.”

We’re thankful too—thankful for people like you who have partnered with us for these 35 years. Now is the time to step up again. Make your gift by the end of the year. You’ll get a break on your 2015 taxes, but more critically, you’ll be helping children just like Ally have a healthy, happy and hunger-free 2016. Give now.

Spotlight on Tanzania: The Power of Sports

Study after study shows the benefit of sports for children’s development. Kids who play sports learn important social skills like teamwork and cooperation. They develop confidence and self-esteem, and generally perform better in school. And of course, sports help kids’ bodies grow stronger and healthier.

That’s why the Feed the Children office in Tanzania has been providing sports equipment and uniforms to children at primary schools we serve. Recently, the football and netball teams of Kauzeni Primary School in the Kisarawe District received new sports supplies that their families might not have been able to afford. Each player received a set of two uniforms, and each team received two balls—footballs (soccer balls) for the boys’ football team and two netballs for the girls’ netball team. The supplies were presented by Matt Panos, Feed the Children Chief Development Officer; Scott Killough, Senior Vice President of International Operations; Seintje Veldhuis, Regional Director, Africa; and Silvia Andena, Country Director, Tanzania.

Matt Panos and Scott Killough with Kauzeni students
Matt Panos and Scott Killough with Kauzeni students

For the kids we serve, team and individual sports aren’t frivolous activities. They are vital ways of promoting physical, emotional and mental health. And it also provides a means of fun and friendship, not to mention joy. Just look at these smiles:

*Kauzeni Primary School kids with balls received from Feed the Children

Our partnership with Kauzeni Primary School goes back to 2010, when we started engaging parents and teachers of the school through forums to discuss how Feed the Children could partner in the community. In time, Feed the Children constructed a kitchen and provided the school with cooking equipment. Children then began receiving mid-morning porridge. The school also benefits from TOMS shoes (since 2013), and pupils are trained in hygiene practices such as proper handwashing methods to prevent disease and how to properly clean latrines. Feed the Children has also provided the school with cleaning tools like brushes and brooms to improve sanitation and reduce the incidence of disease.

Mtongani Primary School students received new equipment this summer.
Mtongani Primary School students received new equipment this summer.

The Feed the Children office in Tanzania also provided sports supplies to children at Mtongani Primary School at Mlandizi in Kibaha, Tanzania. More than 1,500 children, teachers and community leaders attended the presentation of equipment in July, including the village chairperson, Mr. Dunia Said, who was the chief guest. Juaji Abdalla Juaji has a daughter at the school and is also a professional football coach. He volunteered to take part in coaching the school. He said, “Today has been a special day for me, I am really happy. [On behalf of the parents,] we thank Feed the Children for remembering our children and continuing to support us.”

Learn more about Tanzania here—including how you can be a part of what we’re doing.

Country Spotlight: Introducing Tanzania

This month our Country Spotlight moves to Tanzania! In addition to our regular blog content, we’ll be sharing more about this country to give you a deeper picture of what’s going on there.

Tanzania Country Director Silvia Andena is welcomed to a site visit of a local school.
Tanzania Country Director Silvia Andena (right) is welcomed to a site visit of a local school.

Tanzania is home of Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti Desert. Although it’s rich in natural resources, it’s also home to a 28.2% poverty rate and a 42% rate of malnutrition for children under 5. Thankfully, it’s also home to numerous Feed the Children programs, managed by capable staff and dedicated community members.

Right now in this beautiful East African country:

  • We provide mid-morning breakfast to 37,000 of the most at-risk children each school day.
  • We’ve built or repaired rainwater harvesting systems in more than two dozen communities, providing thousands of kids with clean water that won’t make them sick.
  • We give schoolchildren new shoes twice a year so they can grow and play in sturdy, comfortable footwear.
  • We’ve helped students in 30 primary schools learn to plant and tend two acres of mangoes and cassava plants. The schools planted a total of 30 acres of cassava and 30 acres of mangoes. And we ask every school to raise a reasonable income from each harvest to keep their programs going.
  • We also help Tanzanians organize Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) to encourage a culture of saving to invest in children’s futures.
Scott Killough at a recent workshop on child sponsorship, hosted by Feed the Children Tanzania.
Scott Killough at a recent workshop on child sponsorship, hosted by Feed the Children Tanzania.

Feed the Children Tanzania is also an important partner in the region at large. Just last week, the Tanzania office in Dar es Salaam hosted Feed the Children personnel from Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda for a training on child sponsorship. Scott Killough, our Senior Vice President of International Operations, and Matt Panos, Chief Development Officer, joined the gathering from the head office in Oklahoma City. Seintje Veldhuis, Regional Director for Africa was present on the last day.

The four-day workshop covered the past, present and future of child sponsorship. Participants reflected on the successes and challenges of the past year, reviewed the child sponsorship manual, and considered processes and procedures to make the program even stronger. On day three, they also visited one of the schools under child sponsorship – Kiluvya B. Primary School.

We’ll be sharing more about Tanzania’s remarkable work over the next few weeks. Watch this space for more updates, or you can read our recent interview with Tanzania Country Director Silvia Andena. Learn more about Tanzania here—including how you can be a part of what we’re doing.

From Fashion to Feed the Children: A Conversation with Silvia Andena

Editor’s Note: We continue our series of posts highlighting some of the people who make up the Feed the Children team. Here is an interview with Silvia Andena, Country Director for Feed the Children Tanzania. Other blogs in this series can be found herehere and here.

How did you first get into this work? Why focus on children specifically?

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Silvia Andena

My first work experience was in the fashion sector, coming from Milan in Italy. That kind of work is a very easy road to take, and many people aspire to it, but I always had the idea to do something that would help other people. This first work experience helped me understand that desire even better, and I realized clearly that fashion was not the right sector for me!

With the support of my family, I decided to enroll in a Master’s in International Relations degree program in London, UK. That seemed to be the best way to shift towards working in the international sector.

I’ve always had a passion for traveling and living in different countries, and my idea was immediately to aim for Africa. I wanted to live there and understand the culture before finding the best way to be of help. It took me some years to get here, but finally I was able to make it!

The choice of children came naturally—they are the nicest thing on earth. But they are also fragile, and adults have a duty to help them protect themselves by empowering their lives. Even now, talking to children is one of my favorite things to do. I learn a lot from them about life and the best ways to help them.

Recently I have even decided to study children’s rights, in order to have more tools to help them. Working in this sector is not an easy thing, and without the right instruments and skills, you can’t have nearly as much positive impact.

What motivates you in your work? Is there a person, story or statistic that gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you going?

People keep telling me that I am a good person for what I do. I feel I am actually a bit selfish. When you can do something to help others, you are the one benefiting the most from it. The smiles and warmth of people can make you feel alive, like you’re in the right place.

There is a sentence that I always try to remember in my work and my life from Terence, the Roman playwright: “I am a human, and I think nothing human is alien to me.”

That is what motivates me—my interest in other people, and spending my life doing something worthwhile for them. We all have a duty to help people in difficulty. Each of us, in our own lives, can find a small way to accomplish this.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing children and families in Tanzania, and how does Feed the Children address those challenges? 

Access to proper food, clean water and educational tools are the biggest challenges for children and their families. By supporting schools and communities through our four pillars, we can give children a proper education, which is their right. Also, by working to empower schools and communities, we can help solving other big problems present in Tanzania such as early pregnancies, child marriage and youth delinquency.

Is there a recent story you can share about the work being done in Tanzania on behalf of children?

We recently participated in the celebration of the Day of the African Child in one of our beneficiary schools. On that occasion children from other nearby schools participated, and Feed the Children provided all of them with juices and snacks. The children were able to dance and sing in front of adults and express their own views about the problems they have to face in their everyday life as African children. It was amazing to see small children expressing their thoughts with such energy, and then they all listened carefully during our speech about children’s right to education, particularly girls’ rights. I see this little event as a sign that this country might really see change happening. Children are our future!

What’s one misconception people in the United States might have about Tanzania? What would you want us to know about this country? 

FEED03Tanzania is not Africa; it is part of it. There are things Tanzanians share with other African populations, and things that are unique to them, such as their language and how it defines them as a culture and an independent nation. In Tanzania, the first language is not English; it is Kiswahili. People of different tribes, languages, and religions have been united under a language and a name. Nowadays, compared to other nearby countries, Tanzania is a peaceful one, where different people share their lives together without any conflict.

The general attitude of Tanzanian people is one of kindness and peace. This population has taught me what really means to be humble and patient. When you smile at them in the street they do not think you are weird or wanting something from them—they simply smile back.