Author Archives: Administrator

Ngo’s Story: Training School Health Workers to Give the Gift of Clear Vision

Photo: c. HKI/USAID

Providing vision screenings for students in Vietnam.  Photo: c. HKI/USAID

“I did not know that both of my kids were suffering from vision problems,” said Ms. Ngo Thi Hoa, a school health worker at the small primary school in Vietnam that her children attend.  Once she noticed that the vision section of the general physical forms provided by her children’s school was left blank, she began to investigate further.   more…

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Categories Asia-Pacific, Preventing Blindness

Education For a Healthy Tomorrow


Neath reads a leaflet on the prevention of intestinal worms in class. Photo: ©HKI-Cambodia

We often take washing our hands and access to safe drinking water for granted, without realizing how critical these simple resources can be in saving the lives of others. Children in Cambodia rely on clean drinking water and hand washing to protect themselves from intestinal worms, which infect more than 70% of the country’s primary school children. more…

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Categories Asia-Pacific

What’s In A Name? Honoring A Legend

little helen keller

Lina with her daughter, Little Helen Keller
Photo: © HKI

Helen Keller once said, “When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” As we approach what would have been Helen’s 134th birthday, we are reminded of her positive impact and lasting legacy through the stories of people whose lives have been transformed by Helen Keller International’s programs.

Lina and her family live in a small village in Indonesia where fish and eggs are rare, expensive, and often reserved for special occasions. Every day Lina’s three children, including her nine-month-old daughter, ate meals that consisted of boiled cassava leaves and papaya flowers, which are low in essential nutrients that help children develop healthy bodies and immune systems. Thanks to Helen Keller International’s Homestead Food Production program, Lina learned how to cultivate a home garden filled with leafy, nutrient-rich vegetables, as well as how to raise chickens and farm catfish.

The Helen Keller International team also taught Lina and other mothers in her village how to prepare the catfish they raised. And not only did the HKI team teach the mothers how to cook their food, but also why- promoting an understanding of the specific nutritional benefits that were to be gained by their families. They cooked catfish porridge with vegetables and learned to prepare other delicious meals that Lina can be sure will help her family grow healthy and strong.  Lina feels empowered by her newly gained knowledge: “Now I can make food for my daughter that is easy to cook, tasty and nutritious, and not too expensive.”

Inspired by the impact of Homestead Food Production on her family’s life and in appreciation for the knowledge she received from Helen Keller International, Lina named her youngest daughter Helen Keller, a tribute to our famous founder.

Honor Helen Keller’s legacy by helping us to continue reaching families like Lina’s with your gift today.

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Witnessing Helen Keller’s Legacy in Children Around the World


Photo: © HKI

As the birthday of our founder, Helen Keller, approaches on June 27, it’s important to remember the millions of children around the world today who share Helen’s strength and courage. Like Helen, many children face seemingly insurmountable odds. By empowering them with the proper tools and access to help we can give these children the opportunity to let their intelligence and ambition shine, and the chance to reach their full potential in the classroom and beyond.

One of these children is Andhika, an 11-year-old boy from East Java, Indonesia, who was born visually-impaired. Andhika lives with his family in an area typically reserved for refugees and disaster survivors. His school did not previously integrate students with special needs into the mainstream classrooms. Andhika’s challenges sometimes prevented him from attending school at all. With the help of Helen Keller International’s Opportunities for Vulnerable Children (OVC) program, the teachers and administration at Andhika’s school received special training to help kids like Andhika make the most of their education and allow them to learn and grow alongside their peers without disabilities.

Now, teachers and fellow students in Andhika’s community are eager to support their schoolmates by making extra efforts wherever they can. For instance, Andhika’s principal used funds from the school’s operational budget to provide for Andhika’s transportation to and from school- due to the far distance between school and his home. During breaks, some students voluntarily take turns accompanying Andhika to the common area and around school. Andhika’s aunt expressed joy in seeing her nephew be able to go to school, and to finally be able to go every day.

The spirit of Andhika’s community echoes the famous words of Helen Keller: “The welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all.”

Help children like Andhika reach their full potential with your donation to Helen Keller International.

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Running to Save Sight


Photos: c. HKI/Chad Haas

Born in rural Minnesota, Lisa Reeck decided on a whim to participate in a half marathon in 2009.  That race sparked a passion in Lisa, and running quickly became a constant source of inspiration in her life, through good times and bad.

When Lisa’s mother began to lose her vision and was diagnosed with cone-rod dystrophy a few years ago, Lisa felt compelled to help others who also experience vision loss.


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Categories Preventing Blindness, United States

Clear Vision for a Whole Family


A mother living in Corona, Queens, Rosa has three sons, all of whom wear glasses. With a single pair of glasses easily costing hundreds of dollars, Rosa struggled to provide her children with the vision care that they need — annual eye exams, prescription lenses, and new frames if glasses get lost or broken. more…

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Categories United States

International Women’s Day

by Ramona Ridolfi


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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Categories Asia-Pacific, Reducing Malnutrition, Uncategorized

National Sovereignty, Nutrition and Neglected Tropical Diseases

Launch of NMDs 1999. Children singing that vitamin A “saves sight and lives”. June 30, 1999. Photo: c. HKI

Flying into Niamey, the capital of Niger, always feels like coming home. Since starting development work in 1981 it is the country that has the most marked me and where I have traveled the most extensively. We are accompanying a columnist from The New York Times, Nick Kristof, and his annual “Win-A-Trip” participant, Erin Luhmann and their videographer, Ben Solomon during their West Africa visit. They will go on from Niamey to a leprosy hospital further to the East, and then on to Chad. The flight in is at the perfect time of day in the perfect season. The beginning of the rainy season has washed off the dust and the foliage is a brilliant green, contrasting with the red earth. The end-of-day light gives the perfect glow to the landscape. Immigration at the airport is more nervous than usual about having journalists visit – perhaps because of the heightened security concerns. However with a little explanation on several fronts the team is out of the airport and off to their first visit in Niamey. more…

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Timbuktu, Terrorism, Trachoma

For centuries Mali has been known for the mythical city of Timbuktu. Unfortunately, events in the last two years have also made it known for terrorism. In public health circles it has long been known as a major part of the trachoma belt – a band of Africa where the leading infectious cause of blindness is concentrated. Our trip up North made us hope that Timbuktu will be resurgent and that the days of terrorism will be but distant, if painful, memories. Today’s trip also gave great hope that trachoma, which has caused so much suffering for generations of Malians, will be consigned to the past and that the country can look forward to a future free of this scourge.

We are accompanying a columnist from The New York Times, Nick Kristof, and his annual “Win-A-Trip” participant, Erin Luhmann and their videographer, Ben Solomon during their West Africa visit. Today we left the capital of Mali, Bamako, to head to the Kita district. more…

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Timbuktu: 15 years on

The last time I was in Timbuktu was 15 years ago when HKI was just developing programs in Mali and we were providing technical assistance to a partner NGO working in the region to carry out a baseline survey on anemia and other nutritional problems. A colleague from HKI and I spent 10 days working with the local team preparing the survey design, finalizing and field testing questionnaires and training survey workers. The trip to Timbuktu was brutal as when we turned off the paved road in Douentza we spent 15 hours crossing usually dry scrubland that had been transformed into mud flats by a downpour. We were thrown around in the back of a double cabin pick-up truck when we were not up to our ears in mud trying to get the truck unstuck.

This time I am accompanying a columnist from The New York Times, Nick Kristof, and his annual “Win-A-Trip” participant, Erin Luhmann and their videographer, Ben Solomon. more…

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition