Posts Tagged: “Gardens”

With Better Support Women Farmers Could Feed Millions More


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

A Key Advocate for Better Nutrition in West Africa

President Monteiro

This post was written by Shawn Baker, HKI’s vice president and regional director for Africa.

Nutrition is truly an adventure – and you end up doing so many things that you never even imagined when getting training at university. This last week has been a huge privilege, engaging for four days with one of the most respected statesmen of West Africa, President António Manuel Mascarenhas Gomes Monteiro (photo at left), former head of state of Cape Verde, to discuss the issues of undernutrition in West Africa.


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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

How a Transformational Experience Led to a Life Spent in Public Health: Meet HKI’s Shawn Baker

An interview with HKI's Vice President and Regional Director for Africa
shawn with baby

Since Shawn Baker recently blogged about his experiences traveling with NY Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof, we thought it would be a good time to get to know Helen Keller International’s VP and Regional Director for Africa a little better.  I sat down with Shawn who told me of a moving experience he had that helped determine the course of his life and his 29-year career as a leader in public health.

How this marine biologist got into public health: “What most people don’t know about me is that I’m supposed to be a marine biologist. I grew up watching too many Jacques Cousteau documentaries and studied marine biology at University. My foray into international development work started out as a two-year hiatus as a Peace Corps volunteer in what was then Zaïre (now Democratic Republic of Congo), which has ended up being a 29-year hiatus. It just shows the impact a life-changing experience can have.


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Categories Africa, Helen Keller, Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition, Staff Profiles

End of the Adventure: Five Strategies for Fighting Malnutrition

Doug reflects on how HKI is preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition for the most vulnerable in West Africa.
Breastfeeding in Kolifo

Today, we drove the 150 miles from Fada N’Gourma to Ouagadougou – the last leg before flying out tomorrow morning. On arriving in Ouagadougou, Nicholas Kristof and the “Win-a-Trip” winners visited a center for supporting people living with HIV. Over the course of the past week, Shawn Baker and I have accompanied Nick through four countries – Mauritania, Senegal, Niger and Burkina Faso. We’ve been in numerous villages, and we’ve spoken in depth with many people – mostly women – about the challenges of their lives and the solutions to help improve their lot.

In pursuit of HKI’s mission to prevent blindness and reduce undernutrition, we focus on two major program areas in Africa – fighting malnutrition (particularly micronutrient deficiency), and controlling certain tropical diseases, such as trachoma and onchocerciasis. During this past week, we have seen some successful programs in each of these areas. During these days, I’ve been reflecting on HKI’s approach to reducing malnutrition.


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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition

Show Your Newborn Love

Doug Steinberg visits a village where HKI's Homestead Food Production is helping mothers raise healthier children

Doug Steinberg’s second post as his travels with NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof to Burkina Faso.

Today we drove west from Niamey, the capital of Niger, into eastern Burkina Faso. The evening before, there was a torrential rain, and the desert is blooming. We drove into a somewhat moister climate, and the thorn trees gave way to large broad-leaf trees, including the Shea butternut tree, which is the source of the Shea butter found in many cosmetics.

At the town of Fada N’Gourma in eastern Burkina, we turned onto a track heading off into the bush, which we followed to the village of Zona-Tenga, a site of our Homestead Food Production program.  We work with groups of women, particularly those of child bearing age, to diversify their diets by growing vitamin-rich vegetables and tending to small livestock, such as chickens and goats. These foods are excellent sources of vitamin A, iron, protein and fats – all of which are lacking in the diets of women and children in this region.


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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

The Power of Nutrition: Meet HKI’s Dr. Victoria Quinn

An interview with HKI's Senior Vice President of Programs
Victoria Quinn in Bangladesh

Have you ever heard the saying, “You are what you eat?” In working for Helen Keller International, I’ve come to realize that this simple adage can mean different things to different people. In America, we often say it when we’re talking about losing weight. In developing countries, this simple phrase becomes a powerful reminder of the life and death impact nutrition can have on the lives of millions of people, especially young children. No one understands the importance of nutrition better than Dr. Victoria Quinn, HKI’s Senior Vice President of Programs. I met with Victoria recently to learn more about her background in nutrition and her views on the importance of nutrition on world health.


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Categories Africa, Asia-Pacific, Helen Keller, Reducing Malnutrition, Staff Profiles

Thanks Mom

Mother and Child in Burkina Faso ©Bartay/HKI

In just a few days we officially celebrate Mother’s Day. At Helen Keller International, we celebrate mothers all year round since they are crucial to the success of our program that prevent blindness and reduce malnutrition.

One constant I have observed while traveling to HKI’s programs around the world is the love that mothers have for their children and their willingness to try new things to ensure their health and happiness.


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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition

World Traveler for Public Health: Meet HKI’s Nancy Haselow

An interview with HKI's Vice President and Regional Director for Asia-Pacific
Nancy Haselow in China

Have you ever met anyone who has visited and worked in over 50 countries and lived in Zaïre, Niger, Cambodia, Vietnam, The Philippines, Cameroon, Senegal and the U.S.? We have, and it’s our Vice President and Regional Director for Asia-Pacific, Nancy J. Haselow. I recently asked Nancy to tell us about her career in public health, and found someone who is not only an inveterate traveler, but also a tireless crusader for improving the lives of as many vulnerable people as possible.


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Categories Africa, Asia-Pacific, Helen Keller, Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition, Staff Profiles, United States

The Increase in Food Prices “Costs” More Than We Think

Understanding the food crisis’ effect on nutrition
FAO Food Price Index

This post was written by HKI’s Vice President and Regional Director for Africa, Shawn Baker.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recently announced that food prices have hit a record high. This new surge in food prices has garnered considerable media attention. From articles in the Guardian to The New York Times, people are discussing the reasons for this increase and the effect it will have on the world’s population. Many even think high food prices have sparked the recent wave of political upheaval across North Africa. However, very little attention has been paid to the far more devastating and pernicious impact that the increase in food prices is having on the general public.


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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

Celebrating National Carrot Cake Day

You got to give it to Americans; we really like a reason to celebrate. Believe it or not, February 3rd is National Carrot Cake Day! On this day, we celebrate the moist, spicy, sometimes nutty, and usually-covered-in-cream-cheese-frosting, cake that has been pleasing palates for decades.  Food historians believe that carrot cake was first developed during the Middle Ages when sugars were expensive luxuries and people used the natural sugar content of carrots to sweeten desserts (this is according to  In celebration of National Carrot Cake Day, I’d like to take a moment to pay special homage to carrot cake’s main ingredient, the carrot!


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Categories Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition