Information and stories addressing children.

Adopt an ECD
Early childhood development (ECD) is an aspect of life that kids in Africa can’t afford to take for granted. Only 43% of children under five in South Africa have access to these crucial programs either at home or in a specialized center. Exposing children to ECD programs is an important factor in their ability to grow into intelligent adults, and also plays a crucial role in lifting them out of poverty.

To change the vicious cycle of poverty, the National Development Agency is launching the Adopt an ECD campaign to allow more kids the chance to participate in early childhood development programs. The most prevalent reason children do not have access to these programs is because their families simply cannot afford them. And without early childhood development programs, most kids will grow up without the education and skills necessary to raise themselves out of poverty, thus continuing the cycle.

The Adopt an ECD campaign allows individuals and organizations to donate money, supplies, or work hours to help create more accessible programs for kids. The donations will go toward building new schools and daycare centers, buying school supplies, or renovating buildings to be more child-friendly. When individuals and businesses help contribute to the campaign, they are not only helping educate children, they’re also helping end global poverty.

Katie Brockman

Source: Mail & Guardian
Photo: World Vision

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Although World Vision is a Christian organization, religious preference has no bearing when it comes to the people they help. World Vision has been helping nearly 100 million poor and oppressed people fight the causes of poverty and injustice in nearly 100 countries since 1950.

Their mission is to demonstrate religious commitment and love through service to impoverished families, natural disaster survivors, exploited children, refugees, families devastated by AIDS, and so many more in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They work towards peace, promote justice, provide for people’s daily needs, and encourage spiritual healing and transformation.

The global organization consists of over 44,000 staff members; a large percentage of which work in their home countries to reduce language and culture barriers that might inhibit progress. With such a large network of humanitarians with such a broad range of cultural and occupational backgrounds, World Vision can provide aid wherever in the world it is needed.

The amount of support World Vision receives speaks volumes to their effectiveness. They have earned the trust of nearly 3 million donors, supporters and volunteers, over 500,000 child sponsors, thousands of churches, hundreds of businesses, and government agencies around the world. This enormous amount of support is easily understood after considering the organization’s numbers; 4.2 million children have been sponsored and 1,600 communities have been served worldwide.

World Vision truly is a global humanitarian organization, providing assistance wherever it is needed, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or gender.

– Dana Johnson

Source: World Vision

Mother
Not all countries are created equally when it comes to raising children. While some countries have better opportunities for their mothers and children, including education, day care services, and early childhood development programs, others do not have proper healthcare or other resources to help keep mothers and babies healthy.

Each year, Save the Children releases the Mothers’ Index as part of their State of the World’s Mothers report. To determine the best places to be a mother, the study examines nations to judge how well their mothers and babies are cared for based on five areas: maternal health, children’s well-being, educational status, economic status, and political status.

Here are the organization’s results of the top 30 countries to be a mother:

30. United States
29. Luxembourg
28. Poland
27. Lithuania
26. Belarus
25. Israel
24. Czech Republic
23. United Kingdom
22. Canada
21. Estonia
20. Ireland
19. Greece
18. New Zealand
17. Italy
16. France
15. Singapore
14. Slovenia
13. Portugal
12. Switzerland
11. Austria
10. Australia
9. Germany
8. Belgium
7. Spain
6. Denmark
5. Netherlands
4. Iceland
3. Norway
2. Sweden
1. Finland

Many of these countries met all five standards set by Save the Children, with high expectations for the children’s school career, outstanding medical and health care for new and expecting mothers, a high per capita income level, and many job opportunities for mothers and women, particularly in leadership roles and in the government.

Katie Brockman

Source: Huffington Post

malnutrition
United Nations officials met with key country leaders at the Nutrition for Growth summit held in London last week to discuss pledged funds and political agreements in the fight against global hunger.  Millions of infants and pregnant women are at risk for stunting and deaths from malnutrition; the Nutrition for Growth summit was a key step in securing hope and help in the fight against malnutrition. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a video message confirming the organization’s commitment to ending hunger and malnutrition in all forms worldwide.

One in four children will grow up stunted by chronic malnutrition. In today’s world, this number must be reversed. There is no reason for children to suffer from malnutrition. Commitments of funds and political support will help millions of children and boost the economies of some of the world’s most vulnerable countries. The UN is committed to do whatever it takes to see the goals reached and hunger ended.

The Nutrition for Growth summit brought together leaders from governments, the private, and non-profit sector. It was hosted by the governments from Brazil and the United Kingdom as well as the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). The event resulted in renewed commitments to continue to fight stunting and malnutrition worldwide. Funds pledged at the event exceeded $4 billion.

Stunting in children robs them of their health and their ability to grow up to be productive, contributing citizens. The summit focused on eliminating that prognosis for children. UNICEF also strengthened its desire to invest in fighting malnutrition and to continue to support programs working in over 65 countries to combat malnutrition.

Also signed at the summit was the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact which formalizes commitments to make nutrition a top political and socio-economic priority for donors and countries. It will focus on scientific knowledge, innovation to nutrition, and transparency and monitoring of results. Strong nutrition is key for individuals, nations, and economies to grow and become successful and the Nutrition for Growth summit is another step towards the elimination of global hunger and malnutrition.

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: UN News Centre

end-child-marriage

Ending the practice of child marriage is an important step in eradicating global poverty and improving global health. Countries that have a high rate of documented child marriages also rank high in infant and maternal mortality as well as perpetual poverty. Here are some key steps to ending the practice:

  1. Transform cultural norms; In many places, child marriages are considered acceptable no matter the age or age difference between prospective spouses.
  2. Establish community based programs; Often, the groups that are the most effective in combating such issues are already rooted in the affected communities. Such grassroots efforts, when combined with enforced national laws and policies that prohibit child marriage can greatly decrease them.
  3. Increase education; Girls who have access to education are less likely to marry early than those with minimal or no schooling. Even girls who are married, however, should be to encourage their education. This will help to make them more qualified for any economic opportunities that may come their way.
  4. Provide economic opportunity; Many girls enter into marriage at a young age because of the dowry given to their family by their prospective groom. Young women are also sometimes forced into marriage by their families when they can no longer afford to take care of them, or when it appears that the groom’s family will be able to better provide for her. Thus, practices such as microlending, savings clubs, and job placement programs can provide other options.

– Samantha Mauney

Source: ICRW
Photo: Sulekha

School_Meal_programs

In addition to recognizing the importance of universal access to education, policymakers have begun to recognize the importance of having meal programs in schools. The U.N. World Food Program has put together a “State of School Feeding Worldwide Report” this year that emphasizes the need to focus attention and resources on increasing the efficiency of school meal programs.

In a sample of 169 countries, all attempted to provide a meal program in some capacity. However, some of the meal programs are highly inefficient, particularly in countries where children could benefit most from receiving food at school. In low-income developing countries, only 18% of children receive consistent meals.

38 countries have expanded their meal programs in an effort to offset child malnutrition while an additional 21 have instituted meal programs since 2000. However, there is still a long way to go with only 1 in 5 children receiving a meal at school everyday, an overwhelming percentage of whom live in developing countries.

Having effective meal programs is a key step in ending poverty. Alleviating hunger allows children to take advantage of educational programs. Meal programs in school can have a huge impact on children’s physical development, health, and mental acuity. Something as small as a meal at school everyday can lead to increased productivity later in life to help end the perpetuation of poverty and hunger.

Key Facts from the State of School Feeding Worldwide Report:

  • Roughly 1 in 5 children receive a meal at school every day.
  • For every $1 spent on food programs at least $3 is received in economic benefit.
  • School meal programs are least prevalent in the poorest countries.
  • In some developing countries meal programs are more expensive than the cost of education.
  • The cost of meal programs varies greatly from country to country from as little as $56 per year up to $370 per year.
  • Assistance funding is indispensable – it accounts for 83% of investment in meal programs in low-income countries.
  • Meal programs are a key step in reducing poverty. Removing hunger allows a child to take advantage of educational opportunities.

– Zoë Meroney

Source: UN News Centre,UN World Food Program
Photo: Mission2014

kenya_girls_students_smiling_cervical_cancer_opt
Every year, approximately 275,000 women lose their lives to cervical cancer. The vast majority of these women live in developing countries where it is difficult to access the necessary healthcare, and where the ability to screen, diagnose and treat the life-threatening cancer is rarely available. However, the fight against cervical cancer in developing countries received an unprecedented boost when the GAVI Alliance announced recently that it had guaranteed a record low price of $4.50 per dose for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.

For the first time, the GAVI Alliance will make the vaccination available to girls of a school age on a widespread scale, and at an affordable price. The GAVI Alliance has already begun their vaccination program in Kenya where cervical cancer is responsible for the deaths of more Kenyan women than any other cancer. In the past, most of the HPV vaccine programs have only been available in richer countries despite the fact that the need for these programs has always existed in developing countries. Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, said that through their partnership with WHO and UNICEF, their support for HPV vaccines is “bridging the gap between rich and poor countries, enabling HPV vaccines to reach girls no matter where they live.”

The vaccine is distributed in three doses, and since Kenya has high enrollment rates among girls, schools will become the main centers for the HPV vaccines. With the support of community health workers, the treatment will also be available to girls who are unable to attend school, and who are often at higher risk of contracting the disease.

Seven other sub-Saharan countries will also receive support from the GAVI Alliance in the near future; Ghana, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. The GAVI Alliance estimates that by 2020, it will have immunized more than 30 million girls in 40 countries. In these countries, where access to diagnosis and treatment is seldom available, providing a preventative vaccine is the clearly preferred option. This news provides hope to millions of girls and women in developing countries who remain at risk of contracting cervical cancer.

– Chloe Isacke
Source: GAVI Alliance,Impatient Optimists
Photo: WUSC

300,000 Students Mobilize Against Hunger

The Lift-a-Life Foundation’s creation, Lead2Feed, recently announced the winner of its nationwide “World Hunger Leadership Challenge,” in which students from all over the country worked on projects that focused on solving world hunger. The middle and high school students who participated had the chance to receive $25,000 from the Yum! Brands Foundation for their local hunger relief charity. The winners, St. Francis Day School, partnered with a school in Meerut, India, in order to discuss and discover ways to fight hunger in its community. St. Francis students collected canned food and packed sack lunches while the school in India volunteered at a local orphanage.

The Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc, David Novak, spoke with hope about the program. “I am inspired by the leadership and creativity that students from around the country used in their projects to fight hunger. Lead2Feed challenges students to think and act like leaders, work with others and set big goals to solve a real problem in our community and world. It is exciting to watch the program develop the next generation of leaders who are passionate about solving hunger.” These students have learned valuable problem-solving skills while being educated about critical global issues like world hunger. Thanks to the program, students will be better equipped to advance local solutions and apply them to a larger global context in the future.

Lead2Feed itself consists of a ten-lesson curriculum on the topic of leadership with the challenge of solving world hunger via service. Goals include working with others, creating a plan to solve local or global hunger issues, and self-awareness. Any middle or high school classroom in the United States can participate, and various projects have been attempted which range from building a race car out of canned food, fundraising, creating cookbooks, to collecting food for local food pantries. By getting youth involved in the issue of global hunger, we are creating a more educated and knowledgeable group of people who can use the skills which can later be utilized to advance the cause of defeating hunger and poverty.

– Sarah Rybak

Source: EON,Lead2Feed
Photo: KSCA

francisstudents
Middle school can be an unforgiving time for young people, but one group of students at St. Francis Episcopal Day School in Texas are using their middle school years to fight global hunger. Under the direction of faculty Debbie Harris, the St. Francis Wolves Against Hunger are making a global difference. The group consists of 7 eighth grade students. They participated in the World Hunger Leadership Challenge, an initiative founded by Lead2Feed with the purpose of promoting leadership among middle school students in the fight against world hunger.  It is important to develop future leaders and foster a spirit of giving back to the community especially during the tough middle school years.

The St. Francis Episcopal Day School was awarded a $25,000 check from the Yum! Brand Foundation for the work the Wolves Against Hunger did in the World Hunger Leadership Challenge.  More than 300,000 students participated from over 1,500 schools and the Yum! Foundation provided close to $250,000 in prize money grants to 140 schools. The grants will support US public charities engaged in hunger relief. The recognition ceremony was shared with another student group located in Utaar Pradesh, India. The students from St. Francis have been in close contact with the students from K.L. International (KLI) in Utaar Pradesh over the last two semesters.  The St. Francis students packed 5,100 sack lunches, collected more than 6,500 cans of food, and packed boxes at a local food back. The KLI students volunteered time at a local orphanage run by Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity as well as created Project 365 in which at least one hungry person is fed every day of the year.

Harris had heard about the World Hunger Leadership Challenge and entered her students in the hopes of gaining them some recognition for all their hard work. She noted the students participated in events on the weekends in addition to school activities. The program began when Harris organized a campaign for World Water Day in 2012 and came in contact with Jasdeep Lamba, whose father-in-law runs KLI School. They worked together to get a Skype discussion scheduled between the students and faculty of the two schools. The next school year, they arranged for six Skype forums to be held. The forums gave the US students a greater appreciation for hunger and poverty as well as motivated both groups of students to get more involved in their respective communities.

The award money won by St. Francis will be donated to Kids’ Meals Houston, a charity working to feed children under 5. The work done by the KLI students will benefit The Earth Saviours Foundation, a local charity in New Delhi, India.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: Indo American News

Haiti_family_orphanage_mom_mother_volunteer_program_babi_opt
When Katlin Jackson volunteered at an orphanage in Haiti, she expected to do a lot of important work.  What she didn’t expect was how her trip inspired Haiti Babi, an organization that aims to keep Haitian children in their homes and out of orphanages.
One in ten children in Haiti lives in an orphanage.  That’s nearly 500,000 kids who don’t live with their parents.  Many of them aren’t even orphaned; their parents just can’t afford to provide for them, so they are removed from their care and placed in orphanages.  As a volunteer, Katlin met and fell in love with one of these “orphans”.  One year old Sterly, like so many residents, had been taken from his parents not because they had died or mistreated him, but because they couldn’t afford a house, food, or basic medical care.
On a second trip to Haiti, Katlin was able to visit Sterly and his family after they had been reunited.  She was able to see firsthand the love in Sterly’s home, and that his parents wanted nothing more than to be able to care for and be with their son.  Katlin left Haiti with her mind made up that a loving family should not be forced apart due to poverty.  So she founded Haiti Babi, an organization that employs Haitian mothers wanting to provide for their children.
Haiti Babi, partnered with Second Mile Ministries in Haiti, enables Haitian moms to earn a reliable income for their family by knitting and crocheting artisan baby blankets.  Mothers around the world have the opportunity to support these women by purchasing their quality, handmade products online.  The sentiment behind the idea: moms helping moms.
So next time you’re in the market for a baby blanket, buy one that can warm your heart; a Haiti Babi blanket, handmade by a mother, doing everything she can for the children she loves.
Dana Johnson

Source: Haiti Babi