Author Archives: Maggie Jacoby

Maggie Jacoby

Thankful For Orange-fleshed Sweetpotatoes!

Little boy with OFSP

Sweetpotato pie. Sweetpotato casserole with marshmallows. Sweetpotato fries. It seems like this time of year, these starchy, sweet-tasting root vegetables are all the rage. But, did you know that sweetpotatoes are more than just a Thanksgiving staple? In parts of Africa, orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes help save sight and lives.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

Trick or Treat, HKI-style

Happy Halloween

For those of you still scrambling for the perfect Halloween costume, I have a great last-minute suggestion: dress up as your favorite micronutrient! Just because your Halloween candy may not have nutritional value, doesn’t mean your costume can’t.

Below are some costume ideas from HKI staff that embody an essential vitamin or mineral:

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Categories United States

Bringing Education into Focus™: Meet HKI’s Nancy Prail

An interview with HKI's Director of Childsight®
Prail in New Mexico

How many people can say that their job brings instant gratification through very simple solutions? Ask Nancy Prail (left in blue shirt), our Director of Childsight®, and she will tell you it happens to her all the time.

Helen Keller International’s ChildSight® program serves at-risk children living in urban and rural poverty by offering free vision screenings and eyeglasses. ChildSight® overcomes the two biggest barriers to childhood vision care: prohibitive cost and limited access. Since 1994, ChildSight® has screened over 1.4 million students in the U.S. and has provided free eyeglasses to over 186,000 of the nation’s most vulnerable children. The result is a significant increase in class participation, a reduction in disruptive behavior and a dramatic improvement in self-confidence. Click here to watch HKI’s video on the Childsight® program.

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Categories Preventing Blindness, Staff Profiles, United States

Sight & Food: What do They Have in Common?

A week of awareness for vision and nutrition.
World Sight Day Face

What do Sight and Food have to do with one another? Well, for one thing, both have official celebrations this week! Today, October 13th, is World Sight Day, and Sunday, October 16th is World Food Day.

Your ability to see is greatly affected by the nutrients you eat. In fact, Helen Keller International collaborated on the groundbreaking research in the 1970s that first identified that a lack of vitamin A can not only cause blindness, but can also compromise the immune system, which, in turn, increases the risk of death from diseases such as malaria, measles and diarrhea.

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Categories Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition

Devastation in Dadaab

Thousands of children require treatment for severe malnutrition.
MUAC measurement

A post by Issakha Diop, who is responding to the crisis in the Horn of Africa on behalf of Helen Keller International.

I am currently stationed in northeastern Kenya (260 miles northeast of Nairobi and 46 miles west of Somalia) at Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world. It was designed to provide temporary shelter for the 90,000 people fleeing from Somalia’s civil war in early 1990. As the war, drought, and insecurity continued in Somalia, the three camps in Dadaab – Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahaley – became home for over 450,000 people.

Today, 1,000 to 1,500 new people arrive each day because of the current drought and food crisis in East Africa.

Little Abdulay Sahal Mohamed from Somalia arrived with his family five days ago. His entire family – his parents and six other siblings – walked for 21 days before reaching a reception point at the Kenya/Somalia border to be transported to Dadaab by UNHCR.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

With Better Support Women Farmers Could Feed Millions More

Nasima

This post was written by Kathy Spahn, Helen Keller International’s President & CEO and also appeared on the 1,000 Days Blog.

I participated in a panel yesterday hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that focused on the role of women in promoting transformative agricultural development and food security. As Secretary Clinton noted, if women farmers were given equal resources – land, seeds, water, credit and access to markets – they could grow enough to feed another 150 million people each year! With this compelling fact in hand, the discussion got off to a lively start, and ranged from talk about men and tractors to talk about vitamins and land rights.

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Categories Asia-Pacific, Reducing Malnutrition

Back to School with ChildSight®

A new year of "bringing education into focus™" begins.
ChildSight students

This post was written by Nancy Prail, HKI ChildSight® Director.

What a summer our ChildSight® sites have had! New York, New Jersey and Connecticut survived an earthquake and then flooding from Hurricane Irene. Los Angeles braved Carmageddon, and New Mexico and Ohio endured record-breaking heat. But, we all came through these challenges ok, and as happens every year right after Labor Day, we said good-bye to summer and hello to a new school year!

As children flock to schools with brand new notebooks, pencils, and back-to-school outfits, there is an undeniable excitement in the air. However, for some, the hope of a fresh start turns into frustration and disappointment when they begin to struggle with school work simply because they cannot see the blackboard well enough to complete their lessons.

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Categories Preventing Blindness, United States

Ensuring the Quality of Nutritional Response in the Horn

This post was written by Issakha Diop, Helen Keller International’s West Africa coordinator for community-based management of acute malnutrition. In response to the crisis in East Africa, he has been seconded to UNICEF’s regional nutrition team.

The response to the crisis in the Horn of Africa has many dimensions. One of the responsibilities that my colleagues and I have is to ensure that the programs are implemented according to globally accepted standards.

Children in crisis, who have been deprived of adequate nutritious foods, are not only at risk of disease, but enter into a state of wasting as their bodies rapidly lose weight. Children who are severely wasted are 9 to 10 times more likely to die: they often lose their appetites, their bellies swell, and they are prone to a range of infections and micronutrient deficiencies. To help these children, we must screen them as soon as possible for malnutrition – and this screening must be done properly.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

A Health Clinic Opens in North Turkana

Northern Turkana

This is the second post by Jessica Blankenship, Ph.D., Helen Keller International’s Regional Micronutrient Advisor, as she chronicles HKI’s ongoing work in Kenya.

In the US, access to basic health care is seldom a concern in our daily lives. While equity of health care is under debate, there is no disagreement that children in the US do not often die from diarrhea, measles, malaria and pneumonia. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, these diseases cause 50% of under five child deaths or 4.5 deaths every minute of every day.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

Training Health Workers in Turkana

HKI helps implement a program providing daily food rations to those in need
Health worker in Turkana

This post was written by Jessica Blankenship, Ph.D., Helen Keller International’s Regional Micronutrient Advisor.

It is only a two-hour flight to Lodwar in the Turkana District of Kenya from Nairobi; however the differences between the two cities are striking. Lodwar is the capital of the arid district of Turkana, and the only reliable method to reach the town is by air as the roads leading from Nairobi have been battered by seasonal rains and years of neglect. Despite being the largest district in Kenya, Turkana is sparsely populated; bordered by the countries of Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia, it is mostly populated by pastoralists who graze their goats and camels on the sandy soil.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition