Tag Archives: Children’s hunger

BGR Meets World Food Program USA

By Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

Twice over the past several months, BGR made emergency donations of $10,000 to the World Food Programme to help address the humanitarian crises in four countries—South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen—all of which are suffering from severe food shortages bordering on famine. Stephen O’Brien, the UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, has called this “the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations.” More than 20 million people across the above four countries face starvation and famine.

The World Food Programme, a United Nations agency, is the world’s largest body tackling hunger around the globe. Last year WFP assisted 76.7 million people in 81 countries with nutritional aid and related forms of assistance. They have been consistently effective in delivering aid to the four countries tottering on the brink of famine.  

World Food Program USA builds support and resources for the UN’s World Food Programme. Shortly after we submitted our donations, Zeenia Irani, Major Gifts Officer of WFP-USA, wrote to thank us and asked if we would be available for an in-person meeting in New York City. We replied positively and fixed the meeting for June 27th. On Tuesday afternoon BGR Board member Sylvie Sun and I met Erin Cochran, WFP-USA’s Vice President of Communications, and Zeenia for tea at the Roosevelt Hotel in mid-town Manhattan.

From left: Erin Cochran, Zeenia Irani, Bhikkhu Bodhi

We were deeply honored by the invitation and  touched to know that the two women came up from Washington especially for this meeting. Over tea we had a wide-ranging conversation that touched on many topics: my experiences living as a monk in Sri Lanka, the monastic practice of alms round, the origins of Buddhist Global Relief, the values that inspire and sustain us, the effectiveness of school meals for poor children, simple methods of curtailing food waste (namely, plastic silos for storing grain), and the need for the international community to collaborate in combating global hunger. I also invited them to visit Chuang Yen Monastery, where I live, on their next visit to New York.

Today I received a message from Zeenia:

It was an absolute pleasure meeting you in person yesterday. Thank you for sharing with Erin and me your commitment to making the world a better place as well as some of your values – “kindness, love, life, beauty, health and happiness.” The meeting was truly inspirational.

Projects for Fiscal Year 2017–18—Part 5 (conclusion)

By BGR Staff

23. U.S.: Urban Farming in Detroit

Nearly 40% of Detroit residents live below the poverty line and 21% of metro Detroiters are food insecure. Keep Growing Detroit (KGD) was established to promote a food sovereign city where the majority of fruits and vegetables Detroiters consume are grown by residents within the city’s limits. The aim is not only to provide residents with seeds to increase food security but to achieve “food sovereignty,” where residents are the leaders and beneficiaries of a transformed food system, able to make decisions about the health, wealth, and future of their families and community.

The grant from BGR will support KGD’s ongoing programs. These include: (1) The Garden Resource Program, which helps increase access to healthy food by providing technical and resource support to 1,500 urban gardens and farms in Detroit, including 400 new gardens in 2017. Together these gardens will produce over 180 tons of fresh, nutritious, locally grown produce for predominately low-income families and engage more than 16,000 residents. (2) Twenty-two events including 16 educational workshops and 6 garden workdays reaching 440 residents. At these events a diverse pool of community leaders and instructors, many Garden Resource growers, will provide hands-on instruction on basic gardening, water conservation, and food preservation techniques to build the skills and confidence of urban farmers. Annually renewable project

24. Vietnam: Enhanced Homestead Food Production

This is the second year of a three-year partnership between BGR and Helen Keller International that addresses household food security for residents of Muong Lang Commune, in Son La Province, a remote mountainous region in the northwest of Vietnam. There is high malnutrition in this region, which is a contributing factor to 50% of infant and childhood deaths. The Enhanced Homestead Food Production (EHFP) program trains multi-generation families to increase year-round food production with more diversified crops to improve nutrition and thereby to improve health. In all over 100 families in 10 villages will benefit from the program (approximately 550 individuals). The grant from BGR sponsors a third of the program.

In year two, an additional ten communities will benefit from the establishment of Village Model Farms (VMF)—a community based resource for training and technical support for the roughly ten families that typically make up each small village. Within each village a community husband and wife are identified and trained as the VMF demonstration farmers. These VMFs will provide agriculture resources for the community households (i.e. seeds),  educate families on nutrient rich crops, and  provide hands on training including bio-composting, crop diversification,  sanitation and hygiene, and even marketing strategies for income generation from sale of excess food production. The family model empowers women to actively contribute to the improved health of their village.

25. Vietnam: System of Rice Intensification in Dai Tu District

This project is conducted in partnership with the International Cooperation Center of Thai Nguyen University. The project aims to introduce the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) to farmers in Dai Tu district, a mountainous region located in the northwest of Thai Nguyen Province. Rice farmers from two communes and agriculture extension staffs of Dai Tu district will be trained on SRI. Most of the farmers are women. The training will help them to reduce their work burden in rice production and improve rice productivity. After training, the trainees will return to their communes to teach other farmers how to apply SRI on their rice fields. They will be the key farmers to expand the SRI model in their villages and in 31 communes and towns in the future. 160 rice farmers will be the direct beneficiaries of the project, and about 1,000 other farmer households will be indirect beneficiaries.

Project activities include meeting with various district and commune leaders and with state agricultural experts for the introduction of SRI, providing SRI training for farmers in two pilot communes, conducting field trips for participants to get direct hands-on experience in SRI techniques, establishing SRI production in the rice fields of the pilot communes with further training. The program will provide ongoing support for these pilot fields, with final workshops held to share knowledge and experience more widely with farmers throughout the district. Annually renewable project

26. Vietnam: Meals for Hospital Patients at Tam Binh Hospital

In Vietnam, the price of a hospital stay does not include food. Already challenged by the hospital expenses, most patients and their families are hard pressed to buy food. In partnership with the Tam Binh chapter of the Vietnam Red Cross Society, since 2009 BGR has been providing thousands of free meals to patients at the Tam Binh hospital. With the grant from BGR and the support from the Tam Binh local chapter of the Red Cross, 500 vegetarian meals are served daily to hospital patients. A total of 3500 meals will be served per week, or 182,000 meals per year for hospital patients. BGR funds will be divided among fifteen Red Cross teams.  Each team will be able to provide meals for four weeks to hospital patients.  Thus, fifteen teams would provide hospital meals for an entire year.  This project supports the nutritional needs of some of the most vulnerable people—those who are poor and sick. Annually renewable project

27. Vietnam: Scholarships for Poor Children in Tam Binh and Cam Duong Districts

Each year BGR sponsors scholarships to students in schools in both the Tam Binh and Cam Duong districts of Vietnam. The scholarships are given by the Vietnam Red Cross Society. With BGR funding, the Red Cross will be able to provide scholarships to 305 students from the Tam Binh district at the levels of primary, middle, and high school, and to 400 students from the Cam Duong district at the levels of primary and middle school. BGR funds will be used to provide annual enrollment fees, school uniforms, books, and educational materials for the 2017–1018 school year. These are children from the poorest families who achieve good grades and display good conduct. Without this aid, these students would not have the means to continue their studies. The scholarship also provides each student with basic health care during the school year. Annually renewable project

28. Haiti: Supporting the Nutrition of Poor Children in Jacmel

The mission of the Joan Rose Foundation—a U.S.-based nonprofit—is to give impoverished children and their families in Jacmel, Haiti, the opportunity to succeed in life. For the past six years the Foundation has been providing education, food, medicine, clothing, and legal documentation with the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of poverty for poor children and their families. The food program has always been one of JRF’s biggest expenses. Feeding the children allows them to focus in school and tutoring sessions, improves their overall nutrition and wellbeing, and takes a financial burden and stress off their parents. The BGR grant will allow the Foundation to continue providing the children with two nutritious meals, breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday. Part of the BGR grant will be used to obtain the help of SUCO, a Canadian NGO based in Jacmel that specializes in agriculture production, nutritional education. and diet. This portion of the grant will be used to bring SUCO into the community to conduct workshops with the children and community members. The grant will cover this training, workbooks, additional farming tools, and seeds.

— SERIES ON 2017-18 PROJECTS CONCLUDED —

Projects for Fiscal Year 2017–18—Part 4

By BGR Staff

16. India: Nutritional Support for Garden of Peace School
NEW PARTNER

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White Lotus Trust, an affiliate of Lotus Outreach, is a grass roots level organization in India working toward the development of a common school system, seeking to ensure the Right To Quality Education, especially in government schools. The Trust runs a holistic educational program called Garden of Peace, which provides students with the traditional primary school curriculum, English and Tamil courses, training in meditation and in philosophies of non-violence. The program supplies the students with school uniforms, books and other materials, transportation, and nutritional support twice a day. All of these services are critical to the holistic enrichment of the students’ lives and the long-term sustainability of their educational commitment. The nutritional component is at the program’s core, especially considering that the facilities are situated on an organic farm. The students and their parents are involved in farm activities, helping to grow a portion of the food served to the students. The school serves morning and midday meals to all students, which creates a further incentive for the support of the children’s continued education.

The grant from BGR will cover nutritional support for 174 students and assorted staff members for an entire academic year. This funding will facilitate Garden of Peace’s holistic educational and wellness objectives.  The grant will go toward the purchase of food items for direct nutritional support for the students. This includes rice, ragi (finger millet), gur (a sugarcane product), vegetables, cereals, oil and spices, and other items for the provision of two meals daily for the students and assorted staff members.

17. Jamaica & Haiti: Nutritious Morning Meals for Young Children

The Trees That Feed Foundation was founded in 2008 and is currently run by two Jamaican natives, Mike and Mary McLaughlin. TTFF has worked in the Caribbean for over eight years and maintains an intimate working knowledge of the people, economies, and agricultural sectors of both Jamaica and Haiti. In Latin America and the Caribbean more than seven million children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition, which has a far-reaching negative impact on health and cognitive development. To address these challenges, TTFF has partnered with BGR on a school-feeding project in Haiti and Jamaica that provides children in both countries with nutritious, locally-sourced morning meals at their local schools. These meals will be produced by local small businesses. In addition to alleviating hunger, this model encourages a gradual increase in availability and accessibility of nutritious food within communities and a gradual decrease in reliance on continuous charitable food donations.

The key objectives of this project are: (1) to alleviate hunger, (2) to provide nutritious food for children in need, and (3) to build economic opportunity so communities can become self -sufficient. This project will provide approximately 36,000 meals to young schoolchildren at ten schools within Haiti and Jamaica. Each of the ten schools will be able to provide a breakfast meal to three classrooms of 30 children, about three times per week, for a full semester. This project will dovetail with other separately funded TTFF programs that help to build local markets for nutrient-rich food. Annually renewable project

18. Kenya: Improving Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition

Over half of Kenya’s population lives in poverty. Undernourishment is prevalent among children, affecting roughly 41% of children. It is a leading contributor to an infant mortality rate of close to 5%.  Kenya’s poor nutrition outcomes are the result of a complex interaction of factors. Poor health-seeking behaviors among pregnant women and caregivers of children exacerbate the problem. As a result, undernourished children and mothers are not identified and proven preventative treatments, such as vitamin A and iron folate supplementation and deworming medication, do not reach those who need them most.

BGR’s partner, Helen Keller International (HKI), is currently working in five counties in Western Kenya (Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega, Trans-Nzoya and West Pokot) to improve access, delivery, and utilization of essential nutrition-related services within a framework of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) programs. Kakamega County, which is densely populated with more than 1.6 million people and a poverty rate of over 50%, requires additional support if it is to succeed in improving health and nutrition outcomes for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable women and children. The grant from BGR, the second in a three-year project, extends the current HKI health and nutrition interventions in Kakamega County to address the crisis of infant and childhood mortality. The grant from BGR sustains the program in its entirety.

With this grant, HKI is working with the Ministry of Health and Action Against Hunger to design and deliver proven programs to reach mothers, infants, and children in need of assistance.  The project  will improve delivery of nutrition health services, as well as offer access and training at the community level.  HKI also works with the Kakamega County Health Management Team to assess and act on the results of a baseline survey they are designing and implementing. The program will have a direct beneficiary impact on 255,000 children and adults and an indirect benefit on an additional 380,000 community members. Second year of a three-year project

19. Kenya & Malawi: Grow Biointensive Sustainable Mini Farming for Improved Food Security and Nutrition

Our partner, Ecology Action of the Midpeninsulafounded in 1971 and based in California, disseminates the GROW BIOINTENSIVE system of agriculture worldwide through publications, classes, workshops, internships, apprenticeships, and outreach programs. GROW BIOINTENSIVE improves agricultural productivity and soil building methods, using less land area and water in degraded areas. Using this methodology, Ecology Action has helped start sustainable agriculture projects in Mexico, Russia, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, and elsewhere in Africa, providing solutions to the challenges confronting small farmers.

Drought conditions in Kenya and Malawi are worsening and were  recently declared a national disaster by Kenya’s President.  With support from BGR, Ecology Action will provide training in the GROW BIOINTENSIVE system to farmers in Malawi and Kenya, partnering with the Grow Biointensive Agricultural Centre of Kenya (G-BIACK). In Malawi, women  who are the primary victims of the HIV/AIDS crisis—and more specifically widows—are among the worst affected and most marginalized sectors in the country. Ephraim and Charity Chirwa train primarily widows and woman farmers at the Mbowe farm and in villages near Mzuzu city. The team also trains men, although in smaller numbers. Children of all ages assist their families in the production of food and are a critical part of the farming community.

Kenya’s Red Cross says 2.7 million people face starvation if more help is not provided. GROW BIOINTENSIVE is one of the few solutions available to the smallholder farmer in Kenya. It is reported that the G-BIACK mini-farm is one of the few properties in the area that is green and producing food successfully. In Kenya the G-BIACK team has started working in three new communities, Ngorongo, Maragua and Mangu B. They are aiming to train 200 farmers in each of these communities in 2017–18.

20. Nicaragua: Educational Sponsorship of Girls

BGR’s partner, the North Country Mission of Hope, is a spiritually-based humanitarian organization committed to fostering hope and empowering relationships with the people of Nicaragua. The organization is registered in the U.S. as a 501(c)3 and in Nicaragua as an NGO. Working with local community leaders, the Mission’s primary objective is to empower the people to help themselves.

The education of poor girls is a major aim of the Mission. In Nicaragua families with limited financial resources choose to send their sons rather than their daughters to school. This leaves another generation of young females uneducated and at increased risk of rape and childhood pregnancy. Mission of Hope aims to break the cycle of poverty by sponsoring the education of as many girls as financially possible. In partnership with Mission of Hope, BGR is sponsoring the education of 112 girls, including six who are attending university.

With BGR sponsorship, each student receives coverage of tuition and/or registration fees; the schoolbooks appropriate for their grade level; an insignia, which every student must have sewn on their school shirt; and the government-mandated school uniform, along with black shoes and white socks. Additionally, each student will receive bi-annual parasite medicine treatment and a free physical at the medical clinic located on the Mission of Hope compound in Chiquilistagua. Tutoring is available for girls who need additional assistance.  The goal is to encourage and empower the girls to complete their high school education and aspire to either vocational or university level.  Annually renewable project

21. Sri Lanka: Computer Skills Education for Girls from Low-Income Families

Vocational training of low income girls

Founded in 1984 the vision of CENWOR—the Centre for Women’s Research—is gender equality and the empowerment of women in Sri Lanka. Its mission is to promote research, training, lobbying, advocacy, and monitoring gender-related issues facing women and girls in Sri Lanka. This current project with CENWOR provides access to skills development for approximately 60 girls selected from low-income families to equip them with employable vocational skills in computer technology and to facilitate their upward occupational mobility and socio-economic development.

The project financially supports:  (1)  approximately 20 women students in low-income families with the appropriate qualifications who are enrolled in the Diploma in Technical Education (level 5) and Advanced Diploma in Technical Education (level 6) programs of the state Colleges of Technology (COTs), located in each province; (2) approximately 20 women in low-income families enrolled in the second (Advanced Diploma level) year and the final year of the Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT) program conducted by the University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC)—a fee-levying external degree program;  (3) approximately 10 women in low-income families enrolled in the fields of multi media and web technology, mechatronics technology, software technology, building services technology of the University of Vocational Studies (UNIVOTEC); (4) approximately 10 women in low-income families enrolled in the fields of Higher National Diploma in Quantity Surveying and Higher National Diploma in Engineering (Civil) at the Advanced Technical Institute (AIT), Galle. Additionally, gender sensitization programmes will be conducted to motivate the women to challenge negative gendered norms that limit their opportunities for upward career mobility. Annually renewable project

22. Sudan: Helping Farmers in South Darfur Affected by Conflict & Drought

This project with long-time BGR partner Oxfam America will be launched in the Belail locality of South Darfur, in Sudan. Sudan is affected by multiple crises: poverty, inequality, conflict, poor governance, drought, marginalization, and gender disparities. The main humanitarian needs in Sudan result from sporadic conflict coupled with natural drought. New and protracted conflict-related displacement has hindered access to basic services and disrupted livelihoods and food security, especially for rural people. Acute malnutrition in children under the age of 5 is above emergency thresholds in different areas across the country, and some 4.6 million food insecure people are in need of assistance.

Due to the protracted nature of the crisis in Darfur, it is essential to address food security needs as well as to build longer-term resilience through food security and livelihoods capacity building. This project aims to address the critical problem of food security by providing agricultural inputs and training on improved farming techniques to a total of 500 households (appx. 2,500 people).  Activities will include: meetings with community leaders to agree on beneficiary selection criteria and suitable types of crops and tools, provision of drought tolerant and early maturing cereal seeds (sorghum and millet), and suitable cash crop seeds (groundnut and watermelon) for self-reliant food production, provision of hand tools.

The project will train 200 farmers (100 male and 100 female) on water harvesting techniques suitable to their land type, to enable them better utilize rainwater to increase crop yield per unit area. This training will also be associated with general agricultural extension skills such as seed selection, planting time, planting density, tillage, mulching, integrated pest control, and proper weeding.

 

 

Projects for Fiscal Year 2017–18—Part 2

By BGR Staff

7. Cameroon: Practical Vocational Training for Single Mothers and Marginalized Women    NEW PARTNER

CCREAD-Cameroon—the Centre for Community Regeneration and Development—is a civil society organization based in Cameroon with a United Nations Special Consultative Status. It runs strategic programs developed in collaboration with state and non-state actors. Its interventions aim to introduce marginalized people and communities to social and economic empowerment opportunities and foster environmental sustainability.

This new BGR project will be launched in Mile 16 Bolifamba, a typical slum community with a population of 17,850 inhabitants, 98% of them peasant farmers. More than 85% of households live below the UN poverty line, with extreme marginalization of women and girls. More than 60% of children born of single/teenage mothers and widows are unable to complete a single academic year in school because of extreme poverty, as their mothers are unemployed. These households face major challenges in purchasing food and paying rent, medical bills, and school fees for their children.

This project is aimed at reducing extreme suffering for marginalized women and single and teenage mothers through practical vocational training. This will equip the women with the social and vocational skills they need and with the financial means to send their children to school; it will also transfer the skills to other girls to tackle long-term poverty within the area and beyond. Each year, the project is expected to benefit 100 women  (adults), 50 young girls (youth), and 100 children.

8. Cameroon: A Food Program for Poor Children

The mission of CENCUDER (Centre for Community Development and Environmental Restoration) is “to enable rural youths and women to acquire survival skills in order to secure a better future for themselves through education and training in life and vocational skills.” Ebase village is amongst the most marginalized rural areas in the Kupe-Muanenguba Division in southwest Cameroon. About 97% of the population are peasant farmers who have trouble affording their basic needs. The majority of the peasant farmers survive through subsistence agriculture and hunting, meaning they remain underemployed for almost a third of the year, driving them further into poverty. Hunger and poverty have colonized most families.

Ebase village operates a local community primary school as the only social facility. Families are unable to send their children to towns and cities because they cannot afford to pay house rents and buy school needs like uniforms and books. Only 58% of children will complete primary school.

The BGR-sponsored school feeding program aims to enhance the education and health of over 95 poor and needy village children, many of them girls and orphans, by distributing meals to them. It promotes literacy among school-age children suffering from chronic hunger and an insufficient diet. Introduced last year with support from BGR, the feeding program has helped solve many problems faced by the local community. Many more children now attend school and parents have seen improvements in their children’s academic and moral output.

The sign reads,”Thank you CENCUDER and Buddhist Global Relief for the meals you are providing us.”

The program is expected to further increase school attendance, enhance learning capacity of undernourished children, improve their health, and act as an incentive for more children to attend school. Funding will cover kitchen equipment, consultants, and food for the students, increasing primary school attendance and improving the children’s learning capacity and general health. Annually renewable project

9. Cote d’Ivoire: Improving Nutrition among Children in Korhogo District

This is the second year of a three-year project with Helen Keller International (HKI), a long-time BGR partner. The project, which is being funded in its entirety by BGR, aims to improve nutrition for pregnant women, infants, and children in the Korhogo District of Cote d’Ivoire. Cote d’Ivoire ranks 172 out of 188 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index, making it among the poorest countries in the world. Estimated child mortality under five years is 195 per 1,000 live births and life expectancy is just 54 years. Malnutrition, including vitamin and micro-nutrient deficiencies, is a major contributing factor to the high rate of infant mortality. Chronic malnutrition affects about 33% of children under five years.

The project is being implemented among young girls and women in Korhogo Health District. Korhogo, located in the underserved Poro Region in northern Cote d’Ivoire, has 77 health clinics that serve a target population of around 760,000. HKI is using the Essential Nutrition Actions (ENA) framework to reach mothers at the right time with the right message. The ENA framework promotes optimal nutrition practices, including women’s nutrition, breastfeeding, complementary feeding, feeding the sick child, vitamin A, and the integrated control of anemia, vitamin A and iodine deficiency.

This project’s primary goal is to decrease the incidence of malnutrition in children during their first 1,000 days of life by training health workers in ENA in the Korhogo District. Trained health workers in turn deliver messages and training to expectant mothers at all 77 health clinics in the health district. By the end of this project, an estimated 77,000 children and their mothers will have been reached. Second year of a three-year project

Projects for Fiscal Year 2017–18—Part 1

by BGR Staff

At the BGR board’s annual projects meeting on May 7, the board approved 28 projects for partnership grants in the next fiscal year, at a total cost of $480,000. Most are renewals of repeated annual projects, while others are new. In addition to our long-term partners, we also formed new partnerships. Several project applications that did not arrive in time for the meeting will be considered later. Besides our grants, the BGR board voted to donate $20,000 to the World Food Program to provide food relief to four countries afflicted by near-famine conditions: Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen.

 This is the first of a multi-part series of posts giving brief summaries of the BGR projects approved at the meeting. Projects are arranged alphabetically by country. Thanks are due to Kim Behan, BGR Director of Programs; Patti Price, Chair of the Projects Committee; David Braughton, Vice Chair; Chot Elliott, Board member; Ayya Santussika, Board member; Tom Spies, ED; and Jessie Benjamin, Carla Prater, and Jennifer Russ, who helped prepare the material used in this series of posts.

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1. Bangladesh: Food Support for School of Orphans  

 

Our partner, the Bangladesh Buddhist Missionary Society, was founded in 1977 by Ven. Jivanananda Mahathera, a Buddhist monk who has dedicated his life to the service of suffering humanity. BBMS is a non-sectarian, non-communal, non-governmental organization officially registered in Bangladesh in 1979. Its purpose is to provide humanitarian assistance to the needy, especially orphans and widows. The Orphan’s Home Complex is located at Betagi in the rural Chittagong Hills region, near the Karnaphuli River.  This year’s BGR grant to the Orphans Home Complex will help to feed 54 children for 12 months. Annually renewable project

2. Bangladesh: Educating Ethnic Buddhist Minority Girls

The Jamyang Foundation (founded 1988) supports innovative education projects for indigenous girls and women in two of the neediest and most remote parts of the world: the Indian Himalayas and the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. For the second year, BGR will be sponsoring Jamyang’s School Lunches for Marma Girls in Bangladesh, a project to support the nutritional requirements of 121 students studying at Visakha Girls’ School in the remote village of Dhoshri and the surrounding villages. Because Dhoshri is so hard to reach, the parents and village elders never dreamed that their children would be able to study. The goal of the School Lunches for Marma Girls in Bangladesh is to provide healthy food at least once a day for the 121 girls who are now receiving schooling at Visakha Girls’ School. The objective is to help the girls maintain good health, so they don’t miss classes and can sustain their concentration. Whereas earlier the students were so malnourished that they had trouble concentrating and often dropped out, they are now healthy and happy and are able to focus on their lessons. Their parents are glad that their daughters get a good lunch at the school and are encouraged to send their other girls to study. Annually renewable project

3. Bangladesh: A Permanent Dormitory for Boy Students in the Chittagong Hill Tracts

Our project partner, Moanoghar, was founded in 1974 by a group of Buddhist monks to provide shelter to children of the Chittagong Hill Tracts affected by conflict or living in remote areas. There are currently 805 residential children at Moanoghar, 55% boys and 45% girls. Many of these children have lost one or both parents in the decades-long conflict that plagued this backward part of Bangladesh, a poor region in an extremely poor country. While the girl students have a permanent dormitory, the dorms for boy students are built with bamboos and wood poles and are all more than 15 years old. These are temporary structures that require constant repair and maintenance. To help solve this problem, BGR is sponsoring the construction of a boys hostel—a three-story building, to be called Shanti Bhavan (House of Peace), that will house 120 boy students in total. Each floor will be able to accommodate 40 boys. The BGR grant for the first year (September 2016 to August 2017) sponsored the construction of the foundation and the ground floor. Work is currently in progress. It is expected that this stage will be completed by August 2017. The second phase is the construction of the first floor of the building, to be started in September 2017. It is expected that the first floor will be completed by February 2018. Second year of a three-year project

4. Burma (via Thailand): Supporting the Education of Children of Backpack Medics over the Thai Border      NEW PARTNER

This will be BGR’s first project in partnership with the Burma Humanitarian Mission (BHM), a U.S.-registered 501(c)3 organization based in Utah. BHM supports community-based backpack medics who administer village healthcare services in Burma (Myanmar), grass-roots education projects that empower youth, and projects that promote cross-cultural sharing and collaboration for refugees from Burma living in the U.S. On account of Burmese military attacks upon ethnic minorities, over 450,000 villagers in Burma are internally displaced, sheltered in the jungle.  The result is a horrific health crisis among the minorities. 135 infants out of 1,000 do not survive their first month.  Malaria, dysentery, and pneumonia are the leading causes of death.  In response, the Burma Humanitarian Mission teamed up with Backpack Health Worker Teams (BPHWT) to provide mobile medical care to isolated villages and internally displaced person camps.  The backpack medics are recruited from the people and villages they will serve.

For security purposes, the families of the medics live over the border in Mae Sot, Thailand, where they are safe from the violence in Burma. This project, in collaboration with BHM, funds education for the medics’ children—56 children in 2017. The school is located in Mae Sot. Thirty-one students are children of medics working in Burma’s conflict zones, 25 are children of backpack medics who staff the office in Mae Sot.  The students will attend an established migrant “school” known as the Child Development Center (CDC).  There are 19 students in the 4th grade and below and 37 students in the 5th grade through 12th grade. Eight children 4 years of age and younger will receive day care. Classes start in June and continue through May of the following year. Without this program, these students would have no educational opportunity.

The BGR grant will fund the students’ tuition, food budget, uniforms, and school materials.  BPHWT purchases school supplies locally in Mae Sot and pays the tuition to the CDC school.  Students attend classes throughout the year. After their final year, students take the exit exam (also known as the matriculation exam).

5. Cambodia: Food Scholarships for Girls to Stay in School

Lotus Outreach, a trusted BGR partner since 2009, is dedicated to ensuring the education, health, and safety of at-risk and exploited women and children in the developing world, especially in Cambodia. The long-standing BGR-Lotus Outreach partnership provides rice support to primary, secondary, and tertiary students receiving scholarships via the GATE and CATALYST programs (see below). The GATE program provides educational scholarships to girls pursuing primary and secondary education. CATALYST builds on this by supporting girls who have graduated high school and are pursuing higher education at universities and vocational training institutes across Cambodia.

Rice support is a critical feature of both programs. The provision of food aid, in the form of dry rice, will ensure that the girls will not be distracted from their studies by the uncertainty of where their next meal is going to come from. Moreover, the students’ families will also be provided with rice support. For the rural poor of Cambodia, nutritional sustenance makes up a substantial portion of the family budget, and eliminating or greatly minimizing that cost is a major contribution. With the financial and nutritional impact of their daughter’s absence mitigated, their parents become much more receptive to the long-term investment of education. In turn, the parents place far less pressure upon the student to dropout of school to return home to help with household duties or go to work.

With BGR’s funding, Lotus Outreach plans to provide food aid on a monthly basis to students currently enrolled in both GATE and CATALYST, and also to their families. The food aid will have a positive impact on 109 families and 428 individuals. Annually renewable project

 6. Cambodia: Catalyzing the Potential of Girls at the Margins          

Lotus Outreach’s Cambodian Tertiary Education and Leadership Youth Training (CATALYST) program evolved out of LO’s GATEways program, which provided qualified  graduates of GATE with university scholarships and related assistance. During the upcoming academic year, CATALYST will provide services to sixteen young women: three already enrolled in a nursing program, and an additional thirteen newly enrolled university students who graduated high school through GATE last year. Food aid, in the form of 15 kg dry rice, will be provided (under the previous program) to every girl to ensure they have enough food. CATALYST will cover their school supplies, including textbooks and all necessary writing materials, computer training, and special language tuition (in French and English). All housing and school funding is provided as needed before the start of the new school year in September. Additionally, monthly stipends will be provided to the girls to support their cost of living.

By facilitating access to higher education, the program activates the social and economic potential of those at the margins. Young women who gain experience and job qualification through CATALYST attain security, self-sufficiency, and fulfillment. In so doing, they also raise themselves up as role models for future generations, and combat damaging class and gender norms on a societal level. Annually renewable project

7. Cambodia: Rice Intensification and Training in Agro-Ecology

The project, with long-term BGR partner Rachana, will help ensure sustainable communities in Koh Andeth in Takeo province (southern Cambodia) through the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), vegetable and cash crops cultivation, installation of household-level water harvesting techniques, fund-saving in groups, and educating secondary school students in the creation of innovative vegetable gardens through agro-ecology—the application of ecological principles to the design, development, and management of sustainable agricultural systems. The project will build the capacity of poor and vulnerable families for climate change resilience and disaster risk reduction, improving food security.

This year’s project will establish twelve demonstration fields for SRI and vegetable/cash crops. It will engage 180 farmers (117 of them women) in the SRI demonstration fields and 120 farmers (78 women) in the vegetable/cash crop demonstration fields; it will also provide educational study trips for farmers to other SRI fields (150 people) and vegetable/cash crop fields (150 people) for instruction on these adaptive techniques. The project will train 300 secondary school students (195 women) in establishing innovative vegetable gardens through agro-ecology techniques and create three vegetable gardens in secondary schools, with follow-up at these locations. Annually renewable project

 

 

 

Improving Nutrition among Children in Korhogo District, Cote d’Ivoire

BGR Staff

Mothers gather to discuss nutrition in Korhogo Health District

Malnutrition is a pressing problem in Cote d’Ivoire, where over 40% of the population lives in poverty. Cote d’Ivoire ranks 172 out of 188 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index, making it among the poorest countries in the world. The country has a population of 22 million, of which 6 million are children under five. Estimated child mortality under five years is 195 per 1,000 live births and life expectancy is just 54 years. Malnutrition, including vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies (vitamin A, iron, iodine and zinc being the most important), is a major contributing factor to the high rate of infant mortality. Chronic malnutrition affects about 33% of children under five years. Micronutrient deficiencies are also widespread.

BGR is currently partnering with Helen Keller International (HKI) to implement a program to improve an understanding of proper feeding practices among young girls and women in Korhogo Health District over the next three years. The primary goal of the project is to decrease the incidence of malnutrition in children during their first 1,000 days of life by training health workers in ENA in the Korhogo Health District. Korhogo Health District, located in the under-served Poro Region in northern Cote d’Ivoire, operates 77 health clinics that serve a target population of around 760,000.

Through this project, entirely funded by BGR, HKI will use the Essential Nutrition Actions (ENA) framework to reach new mothers and expectant women at the right time with the right message to improve their own health and the health of their children. ENA promotes optimal nutrition practices, among them women’s nutrition, breastfeeding, complementary feeding, feeding the sick child, vitamin A, and the integrated control of anemia, vitamin A and iodine deficiency.

Salimata Coulibaly providing ENA training to health workers in Korhogo

The implementation of the project started in September, 2016, when HKI-Cote d’Ivoire contracted Mrs. Salimata Coulibaly to serve as master trainer in nutrition practices in the district. Salimata has a long, impressive history of successful nutrition interventions in the area. She has played a national advocacy role in building awareness of the need to treat childhood under-nutrition in the northern region of Cote d’Ivoire. She was the first person, 25 years ago, to start treating infants with severe acute malnutrition at a center she established in Korhogo in partnership with the Red Cross. She is highly respected, and brings years of experience as she works to reinforce health workers understanding of the Essential Nutrition Actions.

Salimata benefited from special train-the-trainer sessions organized by HKI to build her capacity to reinforce health worker’s understanding of the ENA framework during a regional workshop organized for nutrition experts from French-speaking Africa.

Salimata demonstrating proper breastfeeding position to healthworkers

To date, Salimata has undertaken assessment visits at 29 health clinics in Korhogo district, and has developed plans to reinforce and scale-up ENA practices in the respective communities being served by these health clinics.
As of the writing of this report, Salimata has trained 85 health workers on the following themes: (1) nutrition of expectant and breastfeeding mothers; (2) exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a newborn’s life; (3) appropriate complementary feeding and continuation of breastfeeding for the first two years of a child’s life; (4) feeding the sick and malnourished child; (5) vitamin A, iron, iodine and zinc deficiency; and (6) essential actions in hygiene.

Training of health workers to organize community cooking demonstrations are slated to start soon so that women can better understand how to incorporate healthier foods into their diets and that of their children.

This article is based on a six-months interim report on the first year of the project from Helen Keller International.

BGR Provides Emergency Relief to Countries Facing Food Crisis

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, announced that the world is facing the most serious humanitarian crisis since the beginning of the United Nations. More than 20 million people in four countries—Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria—are suffering from extreme food shortages, with millions at risk of starvation, a large percentage of them children. Speaking to the UN Security Council last Friday (March 10), O’Brien warned that “without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death” and “many more will suffer and die from disease.”

Photo: World Food Program

The gravest  crisis is in Yemen, where  17 million people are facing dangerous levels of food insecurity and will fall prey to famine without urgent humanitarian assistance. Seven million people are deemed to be in a state of emergency – one step away from famine. In South Sudan more than a million children are acutely malnourished, including 270,000 who will die if aid does not reach them in time. In Somalia close to 3 million people are struggling with severe food shortages and need immediate help to survive. Close to a million children under five in Somalia are expected to suffer from acute malnourishment this year. In northeast Nigeria, a seven-year uprising by the armed group Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people and driven 2.6 million from their homes. Malnutrition in this region is so severe that some adults are too weak to walk and some communities have lost all their toddlers.

These food shortages, while due partly to drought and crop failures, are largely precipitated by regional conflicts. The conflict may be internal, as in South Sudan, where fighting between rival factions prevents food supplies from reaching those in need. Conflict may also be external, as in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been unleashing relentless aerial bombardments against Houthi rebels, attacks that claim the lives of many civilians. According to O’Brien, in Yemen “all parties to the conflict are arbitrarily denying sustained humanitarian access and politicize aid.”

One of the biggest obstacles to relief aid is inadequate funding. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that this year humanitarian operations in the four countries require more than $5.6 billion, with $4.4 billion needed by the end of March to avert catastrophe. However, he added, “just $90 million has actually been received so far—around two cents for every dollar needed.”

Although the U.S. has consistently been a major supporter of the UN’s humanitarian projects, reports suggest that the Trump administration intends to slash its contributions to the organization as a whole as well as to the three agencies on the front line in responding to the crisis: the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Program, and UNICEF. These cuts, if implemented, will increase the need for nongovernmental actors and private philanthropies to come to the rescue.

While BGR is not an emergency relief organization, when crises erupt that require immediate aid, we have often responded with special donations from a fund  maintained to meet urgent demands for food aid. In response to the present crisis, this past week BGR made an emergency donation of $10,000 to the World Food Program, to be divided equally between the four affected countries–$2,500 each to Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria. This, of course, is a mere drop when measured against the amount needed, but we have to respond in a way that fits our capacity, monitoring the situation with a view to future aid.

This donation brings to $58,000 the amount that BGR has so far contributed in emergency aid over the past fiscal year, which extends from July 2016 to June 2017. Previous emergency donations went to relief organizations working for flood victims in Assam, India; for people living in famine stricken areas in Eastern and Southern Africa; for relief aid in Haiti following the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew; and to provide food aid to Syrian refugees.

Note: BGR makes emergency donations from its own special emergency fund and does not solicit contributions from the public for such purposes. Readers who wish to donate to support food relief in these four countries can do so through the website of the World Food Programme. There are separate windows for each country.