Hanukkah has begun and Christmas is just days away. If you’re still looking for the perfect gift, look no further! This holiday season, make a donation to Helen Keller International in honor of someone special to help save the sight and lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Whatever amount you give – $1,000 to provide 1,000 children with life-saving vitamin A, $250 to restore the vision of five people through cataract surgery, or $25 to give one American child the glasses she needs – your gift will make a significant improvement in someone’s life. You can’t say the same for fruitcake!
Don’t just take my word for it: Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times columnist, Nick Kristof included HKI in his annual gift guide noting: “HKI gets more bang for the buck than almost any group I can think of.”
Our success is due to the loyal commitment of friends and supporters like you. During this season of giving as we look forward to a new year, please consider making a difference with a donation to Helen Keller International.
On behalf of the HKI team working around the globe – and those whose lives are touched because of your generosity – we wish you happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
A drawing from a child in Cambodia who benefited from our Homestead Food Production program. The ornament at top was drawn by a student in NYC who received free eyeglasses through our ChildSight® program.
Doug reflects on how HKI is preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition for the most vulnerable in West Africa.
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.
Tags: Acute Malnutrition, Biofortification, Breastfeeding, Burkina Faso, Douglas Steinberg, Essential Nutrition Actions, Food Fortification, Gardens, Homestead Food Production, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Nicholas Kristof, Niger, Onchocerciasis, Sweetpotatoes, Trachoma, Vitamin A
Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition
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.
Doug Steinberg goes to a village in Niger that has eliminated the threat of River Blindness thanks to mass drug distribution.
Doug Steinberg, HKI’s Deputy Regional Director for West Africa, joins the team traveling with NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof. The picture to the left is Doug with Kalifa Doumbia, a community distributor of the drug, Ivermectin.
The village of Moli is located about 85 miles south of Niger’s capital Niamey on the edge of the W National Park, a wildlife reserve with big game, small creatures and a variety of bird-life. The area lies west of the Niger River, with many tributaries flowing through it. These streams dry up in the long, dry season, but they come to life in the rainy season, which is just beginning. Among the life is the black fly, a vector for Onchocerciasis (river blindness).
At a truck stop in Niger, Shawn Baker encounters a woman who has gone blind from trachoma
Shawn Baker’s final blog post from his travels with NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof.
On Monday afternoon we headed back towards Niamey and spent the night in Dosso, which is in the southwest corner of Niger. We stayed at the relatively new Zigui Hotel – which had promised to be a step above Magama – but we certainly did not move into the lap of luxury. That evening we ended up in the stadium where traditional wrestling matches are organized to take advantage of the outdoor bar and restaurant.
The next morning, Marily, HKI’s Country Director for Niger, Doug Steinberg, HKI’s Deputy Regional Director for West Africa who had just joined us, and Noreen, one of Kristof’s win-a-trippers, and I headed to the center of town. Dosso is a hub of transportation and the center of town serves as a make-shift truck stop. All vehicles going East and South pass through here.
Shawn Baker visits two villages in Niger where exclusive breastfeeding has become the norm
The next chapter in Shawn Baker’s travels with NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof. Kristof’s column on June 22nd, The Breast Milk Cure, also discusses the merits of exclusive breastfeeding.
We spent the night in the Magama Hotel in Dogon Doutchi. The last time I stayed here was in August 2010 and its services are as rudimentary as I remember. It is a magical time in the Sahel as the start of the rainy season transforms the countryside. It rained last night and we were kept company throughout the evening by a chorus of breeding toads taking advantage of the fresh puddles. The omelets and bread across the street were a welcome start to the day, and almost made up for a less than comfortable night’s sleep.
Shawn Baker reports from a nutrition rehabilitation clinic in Niger that treats children with acute malnutrition.
Another installment in Shawn Baker’s continuing adventures traveling with NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof.
We all met up early at the airport in Dakar to take the flight to Niamey, the capital of Niger. The pilot announced that the ground temperature was 38 degrees Celsius (that’s 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit!) – indicating we had left the relatively cool temperatures of Nouakchott and Dakar behind. Our team in Niamey, led by HKI’s Country Director in Niger, Marily Knieriemen, met us at the airport and we had a late lunch at Marily’s house before heading off to Dogon Doutchi – a market town about 20 km (12.4 miles) from the border with Nigeria.
Shawn Baker describes his visit to a health center with Nicholas Kristof
Shawn Baker continues his travels with NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof, and the two winners of his “Win-A-Trip” contest. Below is his second post.
My only prior trip to Mauritania was in 1987 when I visited the capital, Nouakchott. Having spent over two decades since living in or visiting 30 other African countries, I was not excepting to be surprised. However, from the time we left Senegal last Thursday – my home for the past eight years – to arriving back today, it was a constant source of amazement. Who could have known that all that separated me from a vastly different country was a ferry ride across the Senegal River?
The road between Nouakchott and the border with Senegal is the major economic lifeline of the country but it is hard to imagine that this narrow strip of macadam, eaten away by sand and salt air, regularly covered with sand dunes, and filled with bone-jarring potholes, is what facilitates commerce between two countries; the overall impression is a sparsely populated moonscape.
We stopped at a few places along the way to chat with villagers, so Nick could interview a lactating camel, and finally to visit a health center in the largest town between Nouakchott and Rosso.
NY Times Journalist Nicholas Kristof visits a flour mill where there's more than meets the eye.
HKI’s Shawn Baker and Douglas Steinberg are currently hosting NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof, and the two winners of his “Win-A-Trip” contest – Saumya Dave, who studied writing at Columbia University and medicine at Medical College of Georgia, and Noreen Connolly, a teacher from Newark, NJ – as they travel throughout Senegal, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso.
Shawn and Doug will be blogging throughout the week sharing their insights and experiences as they travel with Kristof uncovering stories in public health. The first post, written by Shawn, is below.
Understanding the food crisis’ effect on nutrition
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.