Children’s BooksStories surrounding global poverty that are produced for children are arguably critical in terms of enabling the world’s youth to gain an understanding from an early age about the importance of helping the world’s poor. When reading a book, it is crucial that children see themselves in stories and are able to learn more about the world in the process of doing this. Authors can therefore be utilized through producing books that build a level of empathy and understanding in children. For those in poverty, it is very affirming and gratifying to see people much like themselves being portrayed in a book, where otherwise the world’s key and most pressing issues are not mentioned or absent from children’s books. 

As Anna McQuinn, a children’s author best known for the Lulu/Lola books, states, “Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that, we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience.” 

This article explores three children’s books that tackle the subject of poverty: “Beatrice’s Goat,” “The Hard Times Jar” and “Coat of Many Colors.”

“Beatrice’s Goat” 

Written by Page McBrier and Lori Lohstoeter, this book tells a true story. It is the tale of how one Ugandan Child’s life was changed through the gift of a goat, which was given to the family through a charity called Heifer International. 

A young girl named Beatrice is from a completely poverty-stricken family, and she is prevented from going to school simply because her mother is unable to afford the cost of books and a uniform. 

Therefore, instead of attending school, Beatrice helps her mother run the house, look after her siblings and feed the chickens. However, Beatrice finds herself consistently standing outside the school observing the other children, yearning to be one of them. Then, almost by a miracle, life suddenly completely changes for Beatrice and her family, as they receive a goat named Mugsia. The family is one of 12 selected to receive a goat by Heifer International.

This heartwarming story raises awareness about poverty, advocates for children to receive access to a good education and teaches those who poverty does not affect about the fundamental importance school has in people’s lives. Furthermore, the fact that the family receives a goat is a heartwarming end to the story, which shows the power of kindness and charity, and the phenomenal difference they can have upon a family. 

“The Hard Times Jar” 

“The Hard Times Jar,” written by Ethel Footman Smothers and John Holyfield, details Smothers’ life as a young child, growing up in a migrant worker family, with little money and facing true hardship. The story tells of a young girl called Emma who loves writing stories, but due to the severe state of poverty she is in, she is forced to make books that are covered in old grocery sacks held together by safety pins. 

Dreaming of the day when she can produce proper books, Emma helps her parents all she can by making extra money and putting it in the “hard times jar,” despite knowing that none of the money will be spent on books. Desperate, devastated and destitute, Emma is determined that things might be different one day, as she gets a job as an apple picker, in order to purchase her dream notebook. 

This is a heartbreaking story, which shows the extreme lengths a child in poverty will go to in order to support their family and purchase a simple notebook that she requires to take to school with her.

The story teaches readers about children who are less fortunate than themselves. Exploring the struggles of migrant families also promotes compassion for these individuals and raises awareness about poverty by encouraging children to be aware of the issue and potentially donate to a charity.

Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” 

None other than the famous singer Dolly Parton has produced a book that educates children about growing up in poverty.

The story describes how Dolly’s mother made her a beautifully colorful patchwork coat made of rags, that she believed was similar to that of Joseph’s in the Bible. Full of happiness upon receiving the coat, Dolly proudly goes to school. 

However, much to Dolly’s dismay, the other children do not have the same opinion and instead bully and make fun of her for it. 

At the end of the book, Dolly’s personal letter to children all across the world acknowledges the great shame she experienced as a child and the profound level of alienation inflicted upon her simply because she was poor.

Therefore, Dolly encourages other children to be kinder and more understanding towards their peers and teaches that it was the other children’s opinions — not Dolly’s — that were incorrect in this story. With this book, Dolly works towards creating a fairer society for all, one that teaches the world’s youth to understand poverty and its implications.

Inspired by her song “Coat of Many Colors,” a favorite of Dolly’s, the story sends a heartwarming message that many children in the world can relate to and resonate with, instilling a sense of pride. 

Children’s books are arguably crucial in terms of supporting the fight to end global poverty. By raising awareness from a young age, children learn to understand pressing and true issues that take place across the world. 

– Megan Rose Miley
Photo: Unsplash

Early EducationEarly education is often underestimated, despite being a fundamental cornerstone of learning and development. It offers children a crucial platform to nurture their skills and knowledge from an early age. These skills can prove invaluable throughout their lives, enabling them to access higher-paying job opportunities. Education holds the potential to positively impact lives from an early stage by equipping individuals with the essential tools for success.

A Foundation for a Brighter Future

The impact of education on a child is significant. Research indicates that certain skills can be better learned at the first critical period of brain development, from age 2 to 7. At this age, kids exhibit an accelerated rate of learning. It is crucial to stimulate their minds during this period to unlock each child’s maximal potential. It is evident that further and higher education depends on the right foundation for kids to succeed at higher levels.

Some of the benefits of education at a young age include: 

  • Healthy brain development.
  • Improved social skills.
  • Independence. 
  • Problem-solving skills. 
  • A smooth transition into higher levels of education. 

Equipped with the right tools early on, children are more likely to progress and reach higher intellectual capacities. The right environment and skillset provide a solid groundwork for success — both academically and, eventually, occupationally. In the long term, early education provides the future generation with the necessary skills to acquire both high-quality jobs and higher-paying jobs.

Finally, research shows that children who spend longer in early education have improved educational outcomes in the future. It also shows that high-quality studying particularly benefits children from low-income backgrounds. Investing in children’s education leads to cost savings, as the next generation develops stronger human capital, resulting in a larger pool of productive workers. This, in turn, contributes to overall economic growth.

An End To Generational Poverty

Experiencing poverty as a child means that you are much more likely to be poor in early adulthood. This is the unfortunate truth for many children growing up in developing countries; when families struggle financially, the children feel the effects of the financial burden. With limited financial resources, education is difficult to access. Without it, potential job prospects become hard to acquire, and the cycle of generational poverty continues. 

Without early education access, many kids in poverty fall behind their counterparts. This creates a disparity in children’s capabilities, making the job of the teacher difficult to attend to each child’s level and need. The unfair disadvantage some children face is what keeps the vicious cycle going.

To break the cycle of poverty, childhood education plays a crucial role, and improving accessibility is essential. This can be achieved through various school programs and increased investments in education. Quality early education provides children with a strong foundation for learning and better prepares them for higher education, which, in turn, opens doors to higher-paying job opportunities. This process fosters generational change, where individuals who were once affected by poverty gain financial stability, ensuring that the next generation has an improved chance of avoiding poverty and breaking the cycle.

What’s Next?

Access to quality education in the early years holds significant importance for several reasons. Education, knowledge and skills serve as powerful tools in the fight against poverty. Early introduction to education creates opportunities that might otherwise remain inaccessible. Research has consistently shown that high-quality educational programs have the most profound impact on children living in impoverished conditions. By investing in the intellectual growth of our youth, there is hope for a more equitable and promising future. 

– Lewis Butcher
Photo: Unsplash

Early Childhood Development in South AfricaSingakwenza, derived from the isiZulu for “We can do it,” is a truly inspiring organization that has been making a significant impact on early childhood development in South Africa since its establishment in 2010. By training parents, educators and caregivers, Singakwenza is empowering the lives of underserved children and fostering hope for a brighter future. 

In the first five years of life, the human brain develops over a million neural connections each second, more than at any other phase. These crucial early years lay the foundation for essential learning skills that shape a child’s success in school and beyond. This is why UNICEF calls early childhood development “one of the most powerful and cost-effective equalizers we have at our disposal.”


Tragically, an estimated two-thirds of the 1.2 million South African children between zero and 5 years old live in poverty. Of these, less than a quarter are enrolled in a meaningful early learning program. Even among those enrolled, only 44.7% will meet the necessary emotional, physical and mental development markers by the age of 5. In the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, where Singakwenza operates, this number is below 30%, the worst rate in South Africa.

Despite the urgent need for resources and curriculum development, early learning programs make up only 1-2% of the South African government’s education budget. Recognizing this gap, Singakwenza’s founders started the organization with a mission to change these disheartening statistics and improve early childhood development in South Africa.

Shaping the Future With Training and Mentorship 

Singakwenza’s Training and Mentorship Program teaches practitioners in underserved communities a play-based philosophy of early childhood development. As of 2023, Singakwenza is mentoring 22 preschools and 61 caregivers, impacting over 700 students annually. By training dozens of teachers, each responsible for several hundred students throughout their careers, Singakwenza significantly multiplies its positive influence. 

An offshoot of the Training and Mentorship Program, the Basic Bookkeeping Program equips preschool owners with the tools to develop sustainable businesses. By providing a coach to work closely with owners for several weeks, Singakwenza assists them in managing their expenses, income, invoicing and other essential tasks. This ensures that practitioners mentored by Singakwenza will remain a crucial part of Kwa-Zulu Natal’s education network.

Waste 2 Toys Making for Sustainable Play

The inability to access expensive toys creates obstacles to early childhood education in underserved areas. That’s why Singakwenza’s Waste 2 Toys program teaches practitioners and donors how to make developmentally appropriate toys from recycled materials. In their 511 workshops, Singakwenza has trained almost 12,000 people to make toys. It estimates that over 200,000 children have benefitted from this training.

Not only is making toys from recycled materials environmentally sustainable, but it is also economically viable for South Africa’s poor families. If a toy gets lost or broken in play, parents and teachers can replace it for free, making Singakwenza’s program far more impactful than a one-off toy donation. 

Singakwenza provides hope for early childhood development in South Africa. In doing so, it contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty and invests in the country’s future leaders.

– Faye Crawford
Photo: Unsplash

Right to Play’s“Protect. Educate. Empower.” This is Right to Play’s mission to help more than 1.52 million children overcome adversity yearly through the power of play. Olympian Johann Olav Koss founded the organization that now operates within 15 countries across the globe, using all kinds of play in education to help children develop important social and emotional learning skills. Sports, games and arts are all crucial elements of play that support such development of skills for a child to become an agent of change for themselves and their communities.

5 Facts Highlighting Why Play is Important for a Child’s Development

  1. Dr. Sam Wang and Dr. Sandra Aamodt found that play can reduce stress by activating neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, which improves brain plasticity, increases alertness and can boost one’s mood.
  2. When children “free-play,” they can assert their agency and control over their experience and can promote their imagination.
  3. When a child plays games or learns a new dance move, they are developing their cognition. This means they are improving in different forms of knowledge and perception, according to UNICEF.
  4. Edutopia asserts that guided play, play with the supervision of adults, is beneficial to promoting kids’ problem-solving and recall of information skills when open-ended questions are involved. For example, questions starting with “Tell me about” encourage children to reflect upon their thinking as well as challenge their communication skills.
  5.  Peter K. Smith and Jennifer M. StGeorge learned that kids who participate in “rough and tumble play” both with their parents and their peers are more likely to be able to “self-regulate” and have increased levels of “social-emotional adjustment,” and this enables the child to benefit from further learning opportunities offered to them.

Right to Play’s Work in Ghana

Ghana has made great improvements in its education system over the past decades, including higher rates of attendance in primary school, which have increased by 20% since 2002. Still, there are barriers affecting schoolchildren. There is a wealth disparity among children, with 1.6 times more of the country’s richest children completing primary school compared to the poorest in 2020. Indeed, the poorest children accounted for 20% of the school-aged population whilst simultaneously accounting for the greater part of children aged 6-15 out of school.

The fact that around a fifth of children aged 5-17 are involved in child labor, usually working in agriculture, fishing and cocoa production, which is highly strenuous work, further shapes this disparity in accessing education. Most of these children are working for their family’s survival, and this negatively sustains a vicious cycle of poverty, as those affected are unable to return to school and seize learning opportunities.

How is Right to Play Helping?

Beyond working directly with 495 schools within seven target districts in the country, Right to Play, in collaboration with The LEGO Foundation, has been supporting Ghana’s Ministry of Education through implementing play-based approaches within “in-service education and training and school-level professional development plans.”

By 2025, Right to Play aims to reach 12,758,600 children and youth and 368,336 educators across 10,000 schools selected for the Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes Project (GALOP).

So far, Right to Play’s program implementation in schools has had notable impacts. Not only are teachers better at engaging students through “child-centered learning,” with female teachers accounting for a 48.5% increase in engagement in lessons, but Right to Play program leaders were able to address 95% of cases of child laborers in the targeted districts, allowing for many children to access opportunities that allow them to escape the vicious cycle of poverty.

Looking Ahead

Right to Play’s mission of using play to protect, educate and empower children is making a significant impact in Ghana. By collaborating with the Ministry of Education and implementing play-based approaches, the organization is improving education outcomes and addressing the challenges faced by disadvantaged children, including child labor. The positive results, such as increased student engagement and reduced child labor cases, demonstrate the effectiveness of Right to Play’s programs in breaking the cycle of poverty and providing opportunities for children to thrive.

– Lucy Gebbie
Photo: Flickr

Accessible childcareAccessible childcare is a global challenge, with nearly 350 million children below primary school age lacking the necessary support. This represents over 40% of children in this age group worldwide, highlighting the urgent need for investment in childcare.

Research and Initiatives

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in cooperation with the World Bank, launched an initiative Invest in Childcare. USAID alone pledged $50 million to support the initiative. This childcare incentive fund works with governments to provide support in creating childcare programs and improving policies. Subsequently, the initiative seeks to gather more accurate data on childcare development and its effects on economic growth.

The World Bank has already supported many countries, including Senegal, Liberia, Burkina Faso and Mongolia, through the development of country-specific programs. These encompass the creation of mobile preschools for rural areas in Mongolia which have already benefited more than 8,500 of the country’s most remote children, the enrollment of thousands of children in preschools in Senegal and the financing of early childhood schools’ construction in Liberia.

Whether government-sponsored, NGO-supported or community-grown, initiatives developing and liberalizing early childcare are a necessity. Throughout the world, NGOs of diverse sizes and recognition seek to improve childcare. The most prominent include UNICEF and Save the Children, but many other organizations on the ground make efforts to provide help specifically tailored to their community. The Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India, for example, has created childcare cooperatives in an attempt to support women working in agriculture or independently in local cooperatives.

These organizations are often informal and face challenges in obtaining funding and accessing training and professional development. This struggle highlights a need for formalization, which could enable the affected organizations to unlock more investments and growth.

Childcare Closely Affects Gender Equality

Though a lack of accessible childcare hinders an entire society, data shows that women are the first to be affected and quit the labor force. World Bank data for Indonesia in 2021 revealed that 40% of women quit employment after childbirth and marriage. Another 2022 report showed that 73% of low-income respondents partaking in a survey in Bangladesh stayed at home to care for their children instead of working, and in 2018, a study “found that having a child under five years of age reduced a Sri Lankan woman’s participation in the labor force by 7.4%.” In poorer countries, when mothers cannot provide care for these children, an older sibling usually assumes responsibility. And more often than not, this older sibling is a girl. She may consequently neglect or forgo her chance at an education, which builds up stark gender inequalities for the next generation.

Improving the Economy and Children’s Health

On the other hand, the Eurasia Group has found that providing accessible childcare for women could add $3 trillion to the $45.8 trillion currently generated by women in the global economy each year. According to the Gates Foundation, this would be achieved through the creation of 43 million jobs globally. This would broaden opportunities for women, boosting economic growth and giving countries an opportunity to reclaim a productive segment of their labor force.

World Bank data has also shown that accessible childcare improved women’s financial outcomes and positively affected their families. When compared to men, women usually spend more money on their children’s education, health and nutrition. Moreover, childcare keeps children safe, with reduced mortality due to lack of supervision. For example, Bangladesh saw the mitigation of drowning risk and malnutrition reduced in Guatemala, where childcare provides up to 70% of children’s recommended energy intake.

Fostering a Foundation and a Future

The Research and Information System for Developing Countries and UNICEF have created a panel on ‘Investing in children: Investing in future’, demonstrating that early childhood care is a wise long-term investment. World Bank data shows that by prioritizing early childhood development, it is possible to pave the way for a brighter future, where children entering the labor market 15 years to 20 years later receive the abilities necessary for higher-paying, stable and innovative jobs. This positively impacts their learning, health, behavior and life opportunities. Investing in high-quality childcare not only has profound implications for individual children but also yields significant social and economic benefits. Providing children with a strong foundation in their early years can foster a generation of productive, skilled individuals. This leads to improved learning outcomes, reduced social inequalities, enhanced workforce participation and overall economic growth.

– Hanna Bernard
Photo: Flickr

Poverty and PlaytimePlaytime is an essential part of childhood. Playing with toys begins when a child is very young and is key in helping them explore their environment. The act of play has been proven to help a child try new things, developed problem-solving skills and process emotions, as well as establish confidence and coping abilities. But with a reported 593 million children living in multidimensional poverty, there is the risk of not enjoying the benefits of playtime. With two-thirds of the world’s poor being children, there are questions regarding whether poverty and playtime can co-exist.

The Jamaican Study

A study conducted in Jamaica by child health specialists Sally Grantham-McGregor and Susan Walker may hold the answer. The study revealed a bold link between poverty and playtime, specifically that playing with toys at an early age had the potential to lift a child out of poverty later in life. The Jamaican study looked at children between 9 months and 24 months of age who were classified as living in extreme poverty and, weekly for two years, provided them and their families with a ‘mental and social stimulus’ program. The program involved the use of handmade toys and simple picture books. Parents were encouraged to sing and read with their children. The children receiving toys and regular playtime were compared to a control group over the course of 20 years.

The results were staggering. Those who had participated in regular playtime earned 25% more in adulthood than children in the control group. Children who had playtime had higher IQ and cognitive flexibility, better mental health and fewer risk behaviors later in life. The study’s methodology showed that playtime does not need to be expensive to be effective. Its simplicity means similar methods are now being duplicated across Bangladesh, India and Colombia, tailored to fit a specific country’s needs. There is hope the results will be just as promising as the results from the Jamaican Study.

Further Studies Regarding Children and Playtime

Further studies have suggested that children living in poverty are more likely to suffer from developmental delays. Most important to note is that the act of play substantially mitigated these delays. These results prove that there is a significant and long-term benefit to play. The results suggest that it is important that children, especially in developing countries where poverty acts as a barrier to play, have the space and tools they need to enjoy playing.

Global Play Schemes for Kids

There are a number of play schemes in place across many disadvantaged parts of the world. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), for example, has been operating the Child Friendly Spaces scheme since 1999. These spaces typically run in areas plagued by conflict or extreme weather events. These spaces are so invaluable, they have come to be known as sanctuaries – places where children can run, sing and play together safely and freely. Child Friendly Spaces mean that the gap between poverty and playtime is shortened rather than widened, ensuring that children are fulfilled and enriched in spite of their circumstances.

Other initiatives to bring toys to children living in poverty include:

  • Play Well Africa: An organization that collects unwanted Legos and distributes them to some of Africa’s poorest children.
  • Samaritan’s Purse: Its ‘Operation Christmas Child’ initiative helps children living in poverty to receive toys and gifts during Christmas. Samaritan’s Purse has given gifts to over 209 million children in more than 170 countries and territories.
  • Worldwide Orphans: This organization helps children to enjoy the right to play through their mobile ‘toy libraries’, aiding children across Haiti, Ethiopia, Bulgaria and Vietnam.

Going Forward

It is evident how much positivity toys can bring to a child, both emotionally and developmentally. Ultimately, it is vital for the well-being of children living in developing countries that opportunities for playtime are plentiful, and that poverty and playtime can coexist rather than exist separately.

On the bright side, global initiatives and organizations like UNICEF, Play Well Africa, Samaritan’s Purse and Worldwide Orphans are working tirelessly to bridge the gap between poverty and playtime, ensuring that children in disadvantaged circumstances can experience the joy and benefits of play.

– Chloe Jenkins
Photo: Flickr

La Bonne EtoileTwo friends, Laeticia Hallyday and the French chef Hélène Darroze decided to create the charity La Bonne Etoile to improve the living conditions of Vietnamese children in need and then extend their aid to the rest of the world. The charity supports children and teenagers who are often orphans left behind and suffering from diseases or disabilities. It provides them with a decent quality of life, giving them access to care, education and vocational training, within a protective emotional framework.

Services Offered

La Bonne Étoile is a nonprofit organization that began in March 2012. The charity “builds schools, rehabilitates social centers, finances training workshops, provides support for health professionals in orphanages, subsidizes medical equipment and participates in emergency food aid in pediatric hospitals.”

The Thuy An MOLISA Center is a rehabilitation and vocational training center where 240 children aged 6 to 18 live in Vietnam. These children are mostly orphans. This Center offers them medical care, physical rehabilitation, access to primary school and vocational training adapted to their disabilities. It is a unique center in northern Vietnam that provides comprehensive rehabilitation (physical and mental) and trains caregivers in others in the region.

In five years, from 2017 to 2021, La Belle Etoile helped this center in many ways such as financing a new professional training workshop in pyrography, a dance class and a course on the hygiene of life and everyday gestures for children with a more severe handicap.

Beyond Vietnam

In 2016, the organization decided to expand its efforts beyond the borders of Vietnam. The charity began its interventions in France with a project to help children in great distress by funding protected hearing rooms within the hospital. These rooms are a reassuring setting for children so they can tell their stories without having to move from one place to another. In this context, La Bonne Etoile worked with Le Rire Médecin to bring joy to children through comedy.

La Bonne Etoile also wanted to devote its energy to helping children in Africa. In 2019, the charity decided to fully finance the construction of a school for refugee children of the village of Visiki in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to provide them access to education and the opportunity to evolve in good conditions to prepare for their future. In early 2022, the charity also took charge of building a maternity ward in the Visiki hospital.

Final Thoughts

La Bonne Etoile continues its actions to help children in Vietnam and the world. In October 2022, the charity organized a month-long event for its 10th birthday, in which people could buy raffle tickets to win gorgeous gifts and experiences while helping children. La Bonne Etoile has helped 2,000 children and organized 20 actions. According to the charity, 11 projects are in progress.

– Olivia Roy Fritsch
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Child death in Honduras
Child death in Honduras is becoming a significant problem as a combination of factors is creating a crisis of poverty in the country. With the Central American country already being one of the poorest in Latin America as well as having the second-highest poverty rate in the LAC according to the World Bank data in 2020, the children of the country experience the brunt of this poverty. The most significant impact this rising poverty rate has had is pneumonia which has grown due to malnutrition, lack of safe water and sanitation and health care.

Poverty in Honduras: An Overview

  • Poverty in Honduras has been a concern for a long time. Before 2020, 25.2% of the country lived in extreme poverty and according to the World Bank, 4.4 million people lived in poverty. Since 2014, there has been very little decline in poverty levels as well.
  • When it comes to human development as well, Honduras has performed very poorly and has the lowest human development outcomes in Latin America. Children in particular suffer from child malnutrition as a result of this. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 23% of children under 5 experience stunting and anemia affects 29%.
  • The reasons for Honduras’ struggle with poverty have roots in economic, political and environmental factors. The climate makes food insecurity in the region much worse, with extreme droughts in Honduras’ Dry Corridor and irregular rainfalls that resulted in the loss of more than half of the crops in 2015. Moreover, 72% of the country relies on agriculture which makes matters worse.

Rising Cases of Pneumonia

The worsening poverty rates and resulting poor nutrition have resulted in an increase in child mortality rates in Honduras. One of the leading causes of child death in Honduras is pneumonia, which according to UNICEF is 16% of deaths of children under 5 years of age in 2019. The cause of the rising cases of pneumonia is the amount of malnutrition rising in the population due to the poverty crisis. With malnutrition comes a lack of safe drinking water, lack of sanitation and poor healthcare systems. Some parts of the country, such as the south region, are mountainous areas where finding safe drinking water is difficult and jobs are lacking.

These levels could rise as famine will likely hit the dry corridor of Honduras as well as Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica. In an interview with The Guardian, Ramón Turcios, the southern regional director for the Ministry of Agriculture, places the blame for this rising poverty on the government’s lack of response to the droughts. Although The Guardian reported that the World Food Programme (WFP) is providing supplementary nutrition to children in the Vado Ancho region, many doctors and healthcare providers are concerned about the future. “I’m scared that, as a result of the drought, the situation will get worse and there will be more cases of pneumonia, especially in children under five,” said a doctor at a local health center in an interview with The Guardian.

Hope For the Future

While the future looks bleak, there is hope that Honduras might be able to tackle this crisis and help millions of children. The World Bank currently has 11 projects in Honduras that it has committed $814 million. These commitments aim to address sanitation, health care and food security. The World Bank has pledged $70 million to specifically provide water to the Dry Corridor. It is also working on a new Country Partnership Framework with Honduras as of April 2022. Honduras also partnered with UNDP in 2019 to tackle child malnutrition specifically. Although there are fears for the future, many international organizations are working with Honduras to abate the number of pneumonia cases and reduce child death in Honduras.

– Umaima Munir
Photo: Flickr

polio vaccination in Tajikistan
In recent years, vaccine misinformation has arisen rapidly, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic; this has become a serious health concern. Polio vaccination in Tajikistan was successful for decades, but the country experienced a sudden outbreak in 2021. With the help of UNICEF, the country immediately responded to the crisis and introduced mass polio vaccination in Tajikistan which helped approximately 1.4 million children in the country. The community health centers and healthcare workers of the country played a major role in the success of this vaccination program. Their efforts provide a great model on how to combat vaccine misinformation through community and education.

Polio in Tajikistan

Polio, also referred to as poliomyelitis, typically impacts children under 5, and can spread either through people or contaminated water supplies. Since 1988, cases of polio globally have been reduced by 99.8% and the only countries that are still endemic are Pakistan and Afghanistan. Although there is no cure for the disease, effective vaccines for polio exist and are the primary way of fighting it.

Tajikistan, a country that had been free of polio for decades and was certified polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020, experienced a sudden emergence of the disease in 2021. That year, 34 children contracted polio and became paralyzed, while 26 more tested positive without developing paralysis. For diseases like polio, even one case could be an outbreak and thus, necessitates an immediate response. The type of polio detected in Tajikistan was the vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2).

Organized Response to the Crisis

Response to the polio outbreak was swift and effective. UNICEF coordinated with the Tajikistan government and provided 4.6 million doses of an oral polio vaccine and a mass immunization program began quickly. The Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population increased poliovirus surveillance, conducted a thorough risk assessment regarding the scale of outbreak and kind of vaccine response required and was quick in verifying the preparedness of the immunization program.

The first wave of polio vaccination in Tajikistan began in February 2021, with a second round beginning a few months later in June and lasting until September 2021. With both waves, an extensive program of social mobilization began to reach groups most at risk of infection such as internal migrants and unregistered children, according to WHO.

Community health centers played a critical role in the success of the immunization program by providing the necessary vaccine education to the population. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the centers thrived and helped to foster an organized response to the health crises.

Learning from Tajikistan

Since the immunization program began, 1.4 million children got their vaccine against polio, and Tajikistan once again became a polio-free zone in April 2022 according to WHO. Healthcare workers and community health centers played integral roles in the success of the immunization program by reaching the most vulnerable segments of the Tajik population. Moreover, the government of Tajikistan did its part by responding to the polio crisis in a timely manner. Tajikistan’s eradication of polio is an illustrious example of how governments and global organizations can work together to end polio.

– Umaima Munir
Photo: Flickr

Children in UgandaIn Africa, a large number of people are suffering from poverty and disease. As a result, many children are suffering. Half of Africa’s population comprises children, and the spread of disease has forced many of them to become homeless orphans or die at an early age. Thus, some organizations are implementing concrete actions to improve life for children. For example, in Jinja, Uganda, East Africa, there is a nonprofit non-governmental organization (NGO) called Jaaja Barb’s Home of Angels, which Barb Giruad and Edwin Lufafa founded in 2009, and is helping “protect and care for” orphaned children “by providing education and a loving, stable home.” Here is some information about the organization and its accomplishments.

A Brief Introduction to Jaaja Barb’s Home of Angels

The Jaaja Barb’s Home of Angels’ name has a heartwarming meaning. Jaaja stands for “grandma” in Lusoga and Barbara Giraud is a grandmother who helped found the organization alongside Edwin Lufafa, who is from Jinja, Uganda.

Jaaja Barb’s Home of Angels aims to improve life for Uganda’s children. In Uganda, HIV/AIDS has left many parents unable to afford child-rearing responsibilities. In many cases, young children are caring for themselves and their younger siblings at the same time and many children are homeless. Statistics showed that one in four of Uganda’s households has at least one orphan.

The intent of the organization is to help children find a home and gain education. As a result, Jaaja Barb’s Home of Angels is not only providing a safe haven for orphan children but also acting as a children’s welfare project.

Success Stories

The Borgen Project emailed the staff at the Home of Angels to learn about their experiences with the organization and its accomplishments. The inquiry revealed that Edwin and Barb rescued 11 children who were living at an abandoned orphanage and provided them with shelter, food and water.

Currently, the organization is taking care of 32 children and has even implemented a nursery and a primary school, thanks to donations and the selling of banana bread. The organization also built a grass hut where the children can have meals and attend events. It also contains a projector and screen from which the children can learn English. Additionally, the organization implemented a well to provide both the shelter and its community with access to sanitary water.

Looking Ahead

More recently, Jaaja Barb’s Home of Angels is providing aid to poor families with mentally and physically challenged children by giving their families land and seeds to grow food. Additionally, Edwin is teaching families how to make bricks to sell.

The kindness and love that Barb, Edwin and their co-workers are giving to children in Uganda are incredibly important. Their efforts have helped feed and shelter many children and their families.

– Ella Li
Photo: Flickr