Category Archives: Children

How a Breastfeeding Initiative in Rural Kenya Changed Attitudes

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Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age.
Alissa Everett/Reuters

Judith Kimiywe, Kenyatta University and Elizabeth Kimani-Murage, Brown University

There’s a growing global recognition of proper infant nutrition in the child’s first 1000 days of life. This can be monitored through encouraging proper nutrition during pregnancy and the first two years of life for optimal growth, health and survival.

Poor breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices are some of the common causes of malnutrition in the first two years of life. Breastfeeding confers both short-term and long-term benefits to the child like reducing the risk of infections and diseases like asthma, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Mothers who breastfeed also lower their risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, weak bones, obesity and heart diseases.

For countries to reap the benefits of breastfeeding they need to achieve a baby friendly status. Kenya began promoting the baby friendly hospital initiative approach in 2002. It ensures that health facilities where mothers give birth encourage immediate initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Unfortunately, this programme was only accessible to women who delivered in the health facilities, leaving out those who give birth at home.

We conducted a two year study involving 800 pregnant women and their respective children in a rural area in Kenya. The study involved testing feasibility and potential effectiveness of the baby friendly community initiative (BFCI), whereby women in the intervention arm were given home-based counselling on optimal breastfeeding alongside health facility based counselling. These mother-child pairs were followed until the child was at least six months.

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Why 20 Million People Are on the Brink of Starvation and How You Can Help

It’s difficult to fathom that 20 million people are on the brink of starvation in Sub-Sharan Africa and the Middle East, but the statistic is true. In fact, the region is facing the largest humanitarian crisis in over seventy years and if no help is provided 1.4 million children are at risk of death. Not only is weather to blame for the lack of crops, but political unrest, regional conflicts, and displacement have all placed a heavy burden on countries that cannot feed vast swaths of their citizens.

“We stand at a critical point in history. Already at the beginning of the year, we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council in March.

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In order to save men, women, and children from starving to death in South Sudan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya, and surrounding countries, a mass appeal to the American people by eight of the largest global NGOs is currently underway. The appeal is being called now because if more time goes by more people are at risk of dying.

Called the Global Emergency Response Coalition, CARE, Save the Children, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, World Vision, Oxfam, and Plan International have collectively created the Hunger Relief Fund. The Fund allows American citizens to donate to hunger relief through July 28. Their donations will be matched dollar for dollar by corporate partners including Pepsico and BlackRock. Other partners include Google, Twitter, and Visa.

Nissafa, 9 months

“Drought, displacement, and conflict have converged with alarming consequences,” according to the chief executive officers of the organizations in the Global Emergency Response Coalition. “In the 21st century, innocent children should not be dying from hunger. People caught in this crisis are generously opening their homes and sharing what little they have, but they have run out of time and resources — they need our help now.”

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The Hunger Relief Fund appeal only lasts through July 28. No donation is too small. Donate today! For every dollar you donate, Pepsico and BlackRock will match all donations up to $2 million dollars. 

 

[Featured Video] Simple Birth Kit for Mothers in Developing World

Women in low-and-middle-income countries need clean birth kits in order to stave off deadly infections in themselves and their newborns. This is the case not only during home births with midwives but also in institutionalized settings.

Zubaida Bai, founder of Ayzh, a social enterprise that creates clean, safe birthing kits for women as well as reproductive, newborn and adolescent kits, discusses how she included women’s voices in the development of clean birthing kits.

I am convinced that in order for maternal health interventions to work anywhere in the world, women must be consulted first as opposed to NGOs and charities developing products for women without their input. Bai expresses this brilliantly in this recent TED talk.

 

Dutch Company Now Offers Slave-Free Chocolate Bars in the US

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Tony’s Chocolonely

I love all kinds of chocolate. I love dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate with caramel, chocolate with nuts, you make it and I’ll eat it. This company, Tony’s Chocolonely, however, has decided to make the delicious desert the right way. Until yesterday I had no idea there was still slavery in the world, and I definitely didn’t know slaves harvested cocoa beans in Ghana and the Ivory Coast to provide me with the sweet treat that I love so much. And to make it worse the slaves harvesting these cocoa beans are children! Can you believe that? It is 2017 and there are still people in the world who are treated like dirt so we can enjoy a small bar of chocolate that only provides a short period of happiness.

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Six Flavors of Delectable Chocolate

That’s why this new chocolate company I’ve discovered is so important. Teun van de Keuken, a Dutch journalist, discovered that large companies in the chocolate industry were buying cocoa from plantations that had child slavery which is unacceptable! He ate twelve chocolate bars and then decided to turn his back on the tainted sweets and created his own chocolate company to combat the cocoa slave industry. So Tony’s Chocolonely was born.

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5 Organizations to Support During South Sudan’s Famine

In February the United Nations officially declared a famine in South Sudan. What is most disheartening about this most recent famine in the world’s youngest country is it’s largely man-made. Constant infighting among South Sudanese opposition forces and the government makes growing crops nearly impossible. And, the instability in the country continues to drive up food costs. 100,000 people are directly suffering from famine, and another 4.9 million are living in extremely food insecure situations according to the United Nations. One million children in South Sudan are malnourished.

In April, Congress unanimously called upon the Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID)  in partnership with the World Food Program to continue food aid to the millions affected by the famine. Congress, however, did not appropriate new relief funding to the region keeping in step with the Trump administration’s continued cuts in foreign aid.

The Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said last week that if nothing is done, 20 million people could starve to death within the next six months in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria combined.

“Famine does not just kill people, it contributes to social instability and also perpetuates a cycle of poverty and aid dependency that endures for decades,” said the UN FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.

While the problem is monumental there has been a budget put aside for famine relief by the international aid community. Governments will also have to do their part to help stabilize the region including the United States, even though the task of some in Congress to attach new funding to the cause seems well-intentioned, but probably a pipe dream for now.  There are organizations that you can support with your own donations to support famine relief.

There are organizations that you can support with your own donations. Here are five I recommend because I have seen their work in the field and have always remained impressed by their infrastructure and aid relief. Links go directly to donation pages.

  1. Save the Children
  2. Oxfam America
  3. World Vision USA
  4. World Food Program
  5. UNICEF USA

UN Photo/Nektarios Markogiannis