International Women’s Day

by Ramona Ridolfi

HKI IWD Photo

HKI and WorldFish International Women’s Day event. Photo: c. HKI

Rooted in the centuries-old struggle for gender equality, International Women’s Day celebrates ordinary women as makers of history.

In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8th as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

Since then this special day has integrated a new global dimension: the growing international women’s movement.  This movement has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, and International Women’s Day has evolved to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.

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Continuing Helen Keller’s Legacy in Indonesia

This blog was written by HKI’s Director of Communications after a recent field visit to Indonesia.

Merilya Wanti, a resource teacher in Jakarta, works with two students as part of Helen Keller International's Opportunities for Vulnerable Children program.  Photo: c. HKI

Merilya Wanti, a resource teacher in Jakarta, works with two students as part of Helen Keller International’s Opportunities for Vulnerable Children program.
Photo: c. HKI

Most of us living in the United States take the freedom and ability to attend school for granted.  Over the past 100 years, great strides have been made to ensure that all children, regardless of who they are or where they come from, have access to public education, as well as the opportunity to learn and grow through all that it offers.

However, for many children living with disabilities in other parts of the world this is not the case.  In fact, of the estimated 1.5 million children in Indonesia who live with disabilities, fewer than 4% have access to any educational services.  Historically, Indonesia offered very few options for students with special needs children.  If one of these schools was too far for a small child to commute to every day, that child often stayed home and received no formal education at all.

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Categories Asia-Pacific

1000 Days of Support

Traditional Birth Attendants who received Essential Nutrition Training through HKI. Photo: c. HKI

This blog was written by HKI Bangladesh field intern, Hannah Taylor.

The thousand days between conception and a child’s second birthday is the most crucial period for physical development. During this time, appropriate nutrition for the mother and child, including the right quantity of energy-rich foods and a diverse diet of micronutrients, helps to ensure healthy physical growth and development. However, inadequate nutrition during this stage of a child’s development has severe health consequences lasting into adulthood. Undernourished children face higher risks of blindness, anemia, thyroid diseases, acute and chronic infections and the potential for lifelong stunting. While Bangladesh has seen significant improvement in infant mortality and undernutrition in children in the last two decades, the International Center for Diarrheal Diseases Research, Bangladesh estimates that 41% of children under five years old in Bangladesh remain underweight. more…

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Categories Asia-Pacific

On the Path to Clearer Vision

Imagine that your sight is slowly declining and you have no idea why. That’s what happened to Bibhuti Chakraborthy, a 55 year-old farmer and father of three children who lives in rural Bangladesh.

Bibhuti attending his most recent check-up. Photo: c. HKI

Three years ago, Bibhuti noticed that he could no longer see his fields as clearly as he once did. Tasks that were once simple became more difficult because he had trouble seeing. He didn’t understand what was happening to his vision or why he could no longer see properly and everyday life became a struggle. Desperate for answers,  he visited the nearest hospital where he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy, a condition where damage to the blood vessels in your eye leads to visual impairment.  Bibhuti was not even aware that he had diabetes or that diabetes could be connected to the vision problems he was experiencing.  Unfortunately, Bibhuti’s story is not uncommon: people suffering from Diabetic Retinopathy are often unaware that their vision problems are connected to diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) affects 4.2 million people around the world, most of whom live in developing countries.  With cases of diabetes on the rise worldwide, it is more important than ever that diabetics understand the risks and complications of the disease. HKI trains health workers to screen people for DR to promote early detection. The program also provides treatment and counseling that helps diabetes patients understand the risk factors associated with diabetes. Piloted three years ago in Bangladesh and Indonesia, the program has already provided screenings to 25,000 diabetics and preserved the sight of 4,000 of them.

Bibuthi is seeing much better these days. He completed a sightsaving laser treatment in his right eye and is about to undergo another surgery for his left eye.  Thanks to HKI’s counseling programs and regular visits to his doctor, he now understands the implications of his diabetes.  He tries to walk at least 20 minutes each morning, takes his tea without sugar and tries to balance his diet with more vegetables, cutting out the sugars and fats that worsen his condition. He also receives regular phone calls to remind him of his check-ups and treatments, and Bibuthi is glad to know that HKI is with him each step of the way as he continues on the path toward clearer vision.

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Categories Asia-Pacific, Preventing Blindness

Global Handwashing Day

This blog was written by Hannah Taylor, a field intern at HKI Bangladesh.

A health Worker teaches a young child and his mother proper handwashing methods. Photo: c. HKI

Around the world, from large urban centers to tiny rural villages, from the United States to Bangladesh, in schools, homes, community and health centers, people are celebrating Global Handwashing Day! Regularly washing hands with soap before or after critical daily activities which spread germs, like after using the toilet or before eating, can lead to reduced instances of many illnesses such as Neglected Tropical Diseases, like trachoma, or diarrhea and several respiratory diseases.

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Categories Asia-Pacific

Georgia Students Serve, Lead and Share to Prevent Blindness!

This blog was written by Angela Blankenship, who teaches third grade at St. Luke School.

St. Luke School, Columbus, GA. Photo c: HKI/Angela Blankenship

St. Luke School is a faith-based school in Columbus, Georgia, of about 560 students from kindergarten through eighth grade.  Serve, Lead, Share in mind, body, and spirit was the school’s theme for the 2012-2013 school year.

Through this Serve, Lead, Share focus, each grade level chose an organization to support for one month. It was hard for each grade level to decide which organization they would like to support.  However, it was exciting for the third grade class because St. Luke’s third graders participate in an interdisciplinary unit of study of Helen Keller.

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Categories Helen Keller, United States

Clear Vision for New York’s Future

This post was written by ChildSight® New York Program Manager Tonya Daniels.

Today is World Sight Day, a global day of awareness about the importance of eye health. It also serves as a great reminder to have your child’s eyes checked.

One NYC student on the path to clear vision at a recent ChildSight® screening. Photo: c. HKI

Did you know that up to 80% of what your child learns is through their eyes? One of the most common – and preventable – obstacles to academic success is unclear vision. The fact is if your child can’t see the writing on the board or the text in a book, it can mean the difference between doing well in school this year and failing.

It’s a familiar scene: a student suddenly starts to fall behind or lose interest in subjects they once loved. They miss homework assignments, seem distracted and act up in class. Maybe they no longer want to play sports after school with their friends. Parents and teachers are left mystified. more…

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Categories United States

Back to School with Clear Vision!

Pencils are sharpened, notebooks are at the ready and the excitement of a new school year, full of new beginnings and possibilities, is in the air for students all around the United States.  But many are starting the school year off at a disadvantage.  Some have to squint to read the blackboard or borrow notes from their friends; others lose their place while reading their text books. more…

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Categories Preventing Blindness, United States

Making it stick

This blog was written by Hannah Taylor, a field intern with HKI Bangladesh.

Gradute school has made me quite aware of when and how the learning process works best. After hours of long lectures in large auditoriums, I relished those one-on-one meetings with a professor to solidify the content and ask all my questions. On a recent visit to HKI’s Project Laser Beam (PLB), I had the opportunity to see the effect that this unique kind of personalized education can have on family health and nutrition.

Jarna and her daughter at their home

Jarna lives in a small home in Kaligonj, Bangladesh with her husband, her parents-in-law, and her two-year-old daughter. Her husband’s income as a local rickshaw-van puller, approximately 150 taka (~$1.90) a day, supports their entire family. Through Mondelēz International Foundation-sponsored Project Laser Beam, Jarna is attending educational sessions to learn about ways she can provide the best nutrition for her family and contribute fresh produce from her garden, part of the Homestead Food Production program, for the household.

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Categories Asia-Pacific

Success Stories from Cambodia

This blog was written by HKI-Cambodia field intern Caitlin Gruer.

Photo c. HKI

A few weeks ago I blogged about my experience going into the field with the HKI Cambodia team to interview participants in our Micronutrient Powder program (read about it here).  During the trip I was able to speak to many inspiring women involved in the program, and I thought that I would take this opportunity to share some of their stories.

The goal of the micronutrient power (MNP) program is to reduce micronutrient deficiencies and malnutrition prevalence, and to help keep children healthy.  It is an in-home fortification program in which mothers receive sachets of MNP powder to add to their babies’ food to ensure that it is adequately nutritious.  The mothers are also educated about complementary feeding, and infant and young child feeding practices by village health volunteers.

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Categories Asia-Pacific