Author Archives: Administrator

Canadian Government Recommits to Vitamin A Supplementation

One of the most fulfilling experiences in my career was on a June day in 1999 on the far side of the Niger River in Niamey, Niger, more…

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Categories Africa

Canadian Government Invests in the Power of Agriculture to Improve Nutrition

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Women Farmers in Fada N'Gourma, Burkina Faso, at a training nursery where orange-fleshed sweetpotato and other nutritious crops are being grown.

I started with Helen Keller International in April 1994 – as country director in Bangladesh. One of the most exciting programs I inherited was our home gardening initiative – which has evolved to become Enhanced Homestead Food Production – “enhanced” to include small animal husbandry and increased focus on promotion of optimal nutrition and health behaviors. When I moved from Bangladesh back to Africa in 1997 this was one experience I ardently wanted to replicate – since access to nutritious foods is one of the major obstacles that women face in providing adequate diets to their children.

I also observed firsthand how bringing technical expertise to small-holder women farmers could be transformational – building on their traditional knowledge about gardening and allowing them to develop more skills and generate increased income.

It is very moving, 19 years after having joined HKI, to sign this new grant with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). more…

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

Cape Verde: Leading the Way to Good Nutrition in West Africa

What’s the protocol for visiting a former head of state? In Cape Verde, our delegation walked up to his door, knocked, and President Monteiro himself greeted us. This typifies the graciousness and modesty that he has shown in all of our interactions.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

Stalking “Big Fut” in Sierra Leone

This blog originally appeared on the Huffington Post as part of GivingTuesday initiative. 

After flying from New York City to Dakar to Banjul to Freetown, riding a bus to a dock and a boat across a bay to a 4X4 truck that travels up and down roads that transition from broken pavement to muddy earth, I stand at the front of a classroom – one that is empty of children.  Today, 30 adults sit in row after row of benches, some bending forward with heads propped on elbows as if they have been waiting a long time.  And they have.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Eyes on Nutrition

girls eating carrots

Today is World Sight Day which is celebrated every year on the second Thursday in October to raise awareness about avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

I’ve worn glasses since I was a young student, so I’m pretty familiar with visual impairment. In fact, I couldn’t really function at all without my glasses (or contacts) -– I couldn’t drive, work on the computer, cook, manage my way through my apartment, etc.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition

10 Years On: Food Fortification in West Africa

By Shawn Baker, HKI’s Vice President and Regional Director for Africa.

Two weeks ago, I arrived in Abidjan from Dakar in early evening. Passport control, retrieving luggage and getting out of the airport took only minutes. Hassle-free. In the past there would have been aggravations at each stage. This set the tone for most of my visit – after 10 years of political crisis and a contested election that resulted in weeks of warfare – Abidjan is back!  more…

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition

The Importance of Good Partnerships: Meet HKI’s Dr. David S. Friedman

An interview with HKI's Senior Ophthalmologist and Eye Health Advisor.
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You sometimes hear the phrase, “One plus one equals three,” and I have been struck by the power of that notion in my work with Helen Keller International through the partnerships we create with local organizations. I recently sat down with Dr. David S. Friedman, HKI’s Senior Ophthalmologist and Eye Health Advisor, to talk about his experiences in public health and his perspective on building partnerships to achieve success.  Dr. Friedman most recently was awarded the prestigious Alcon Research Institute award for his contributions to ophthalmic research.

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Categories Asia-Pacific, Preventing Blindness, Staff Profiles

Becoming “Mr. Helen Keller”

Shawn Baker describes being interviewed for "Francophone Africa's CNN" about HKI’s West Africa-wide food fortification initiative.
africable_tv

By Shawn Baker, HKI’s Vice President and Regional Director for Africa.

“Bonjour Monsieur Helen Keller” (“Good morning Mister Helen Keller”) greeted me this week on my morning run on the beach in Dakar. Several text messages and e-mails from friends and colleagues saying they had seen me on television came in later that day. I then realized that Africable was at it again – spreading the word about HKI’s work across French-speaking Africa.

HKI’s relationship with Africable started in 2010. This television station based in Bamako, Mali is positioning itself as the CNN equivalent of Francophone Africa. As part of their celebration of 50 years of independence of many countries in Africa, they organized a regional media tour to celebrate African integration and HKI’s West Africa-wide food fortification initiative was highlighted. Through that partnership, millions of households were informed about the benefits of essential vitamins and minerals being added to cooking oil and wheat flour, through interviews and engaging commercials like this one.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

What do NBC News Anchor Brian Williams and Helen Keller have in common?

Brian & Kathy

This blog is written by Peggy O’Neill, HKI’s Vice President of Development, Individual Giving.

Seeing world renowned television journalist and HKI champion, Brian Williams back on air last night with the return of Rock Center, reminded me of this year’s Spirit of Helen Keller Gala.

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Categories Helen Keller, United States

In London, A Gold for Trachoma

Trachoma mapping will aid global effort to rid the world of Neglected Tropical Diseases
mr. coker

This post was written by Chad MacArthur, Helen Keller International’s Director of Neglected Tropical Disease Control.

Days before the Olympics opened in London, I attended meetings at the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as the city was beginning to bustle with excitement. My interest was in something completely different.

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) recently awarded our partner organization, Sightsavers, 10.6 million pounds ($16.4 million) to spearhead the completion of the global mapping of trachoma. There are currently more than 1,200 districts throughout the world that are suspected of being endemic for this blinding disease but we have no scientific information to verify this suspicion. more…

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Categories Africa, Asia-Pacific, Preventing Blindness