Will a push to tackle malnutrition impact G8 leaders?

This article was originally written by HKI President and CEO Kathy Spahn for the Global Post. View original post.

Commentary: G8 Summit gathering is opportunity to scale up international commitment to improving nutrition around the world.

A child in Tanzania receives a high dosage Vitamin A supplement. Photo c. HKI/Trevor Snapp

A group of government, business, science and NGO leaders are gathering in London for “Nutrition for Growth,” a special meeting hosted by theUK and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation to “galvanize leadership to deliver a transformational effect on maternal and child under nutrition across the world.”

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Categories Reducing Malnutrition

Checking in on the Human Yardstick

This blog post was originally written by Victoria Quinn for the Huffington Post. View original post.

Measuring malnutrition in Mali. Photo c. HKI/Bartay

In May 2012 I wrote a piece for The Huffington Post about the need for G8 leaders to position strategies for preventing malnutrition high on the agenda for their annual summit. Back then I wrote, “indicators of child malnutrition, such as height, reflect much more accurately than gross domestic product whether development progress has truly been achieved in a country. Chronic malnutrition reduces not only the productivity of that specific individual, but also their entire community and country.”

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Categories Africa, Asia-Pacific, Reducing Malnutrition

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

From the classroom to the real world…

So, we have finished our first week in the office. We are official public health practitioners and it feels great.

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Categories Asia-Pacific, Preventing Blindness

Chúng tôi đã làm cho Nó (We made it!)

Blog post by HKI-Vietnam Interns, Casey McCormick and Michael Wilson

After a long, but uneventful set of flights, Casey and I finally arrived in the bustling city of Hanoi just shy of 30 hours after leaving the North Carolina/Virginia area. We were very fortunate to find a very hospitable taxi driver who, aside from a persistent use of his high beams in order to make oncoming traffic aware of his presence, was extremely helpful in helping us to find the apartment Linh, from HKI Viet Nam, had arranged for us in the Bah Dinh district. more…

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Categories Asia-Pacific

2 Days Till Humidity Kicks In!

And so the countdown enters into single digits. In just two days, Michael and I begin our journey to Hanoi, Vietnam. I suppose before we continue anymore with the details of our summer, we should introduce ourselves. My name is Casey McCormick and my trusty sidekick and fellow intern is Michael Wilson. We are both master’s of public health students at the school in the southern slice of heaven, otherwise known as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Michael and I have focused our studies within the department of Health Behavior with a specific concentration in global health. We are both beyond thrilled by the opportunity Helen Keller International has afforded us to work with HKI this summer as interns in their Hanoi office.

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Fight Malnutrition by Empowering Mothers Around the World

This posted was originally written for the Huffington Post by HKI President and CEO Kathy Spahn. View original post.

Mother’s Day is a time to come together as families and friends to celebrate some of our greatest nurturers, teachers and providers. It’s not easy being a mother under any circumstance, but I am particularly inspired by, and mindful of, the mothers we serve in countries where malnutrition and food insecurity still persist.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

Salamata’s Story: How One Mother Makes a Difference

Salamata is a community leader, farmer, mother, and grandmother.

In her village in Burkina Faso in western Africa, Ouoba Salamata is a Grandmother—with a capital “G.”  Not only does she care for her immediate family, but also for her entire village.  And, like many grandmothers – with a small “g”, she has lived a life filled with hard work, sacrifice, and boundless love for her family.

Wherever I travel, the faces of everyday heroes become imprinted in my memory. I recently returned from a visit to Helen Keller International’s programs in Burkina Faso where I met Salamata, a hard-working, brave member of her village.  When I saw how she has utilized HKI’s programs to transform life for her entire community, I knew I had to share her inspiring story with you.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

One Mother Helping Many

Homestead Food Production in Nepal

Photo: c. HKI/George Figdor

Parvati was born into a small family in Far Western Nepal. Since her family could not afford school fees, she has no formal education.  She has a small piece of land, but it is not sufficient to provide food year-round for Parvati’s family, which includes her small son and daughter.

Motivated by the need to care for her family, Parvati joined HKI’s Homestead Food Production  program, where she received training in  homestead farming.  After learning about how to cultivate nutrient-dense vegetables and raise chickens for egg production on a Village Model Farm, she received five chickens and seasonal vegetable seeds, along with the skills she needed to manage them. Before long, Parvati was able to multiply her five chickens to 16 and now feeds her family with healthy vegetables from her own garden and protein-rich eggs laid by her chickens.

With her family healthy and thriving, Parvati wants to give her children a chance to have the formal education she did not.  To do so, she is selling her vegetables, eggs and hatched chicks to raise enough money to send them to school.  “I will continue to raise more poultry and vegetables by renting additional land from big landholders,” she says. “I have a plan to send my children to a better school with my earnings.”

Beyond allowing her own family to benefit from her new skills, Parvati is helping other mothers in her community reach their full potential.  She began teaching farming skills at her village’s infant and young child feeding group “I tell my friends and neighbors about the importance of eggs and vegetables for their children and for women when they are pregnant and breastfeeding.”

As we approach Mother’s Day, HKI will be celebrating mothers around the world.  Mother’s like Parvati, who are a testament to courageous women everywhere and a reminder of how, with the right skills and tools, one mother can help many.

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Categories Asia-Pacific, Reducing Malnutrition

In the Field with HKI-Sierra Leone

This blog post was written by Anitra Sprauten. Anitra graduated from Bowdoin College in 2012 with a degree in Government & Legal Studies and French. Originally from New York, she is finishing up the academic year as an English teaching assistant at the University of Western Brittany in France. She hopes to return working with INGOs to improve standards of public education and public health in less economically developed countries. 

Overlooking Kroo Bay in Freetown

Overlooking the city from a steep hill in Tengbeh Town, the Helen Keller International (HKI) office in Freetown, Sierra Leone is frequented by visitors from many sectors. HKI does a wonderful job of coordinating its efforts with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other non-governmental organizations, so while the office itself is not very large, its reach spans the entire country.

For many, Sierra Leone is a country of extreme hardship. Maternal and child mortality rates are very high and the general population lives with very little income. However, residents of Freetown have a profound entrepreneurial spirit, and those who do not have steady employment work as petty traders. The city experienced a rapid boom of urbanization, and as the population continues to grow, Freetown continues to catch up. more…

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Categories Africa