Risks Remain Large for Kenyan Children

Kenyan children While the East African nation of Kenya does not grab as many headlines as its less stable neighbors to the west, disease, malnourishment and violence are leaving a mark on this generation of Kenyan children.

About 500,000 Kenyan children are missing school due to lack of food.

According to the World Food Program, in countries where school attendance is low, the promise of at least one nutritious meal each day boosts enrollment and promotes regular attendance. Where that is not offered, hunger interferes with the children’s concentration in class, affecting class performance. As famine takes its toll across the country, a growing number of students are staying away from school altogether to help their parents look for food (The Standard, Sept. 23, 2009).

Drought and famine have led to an increase in the high school dropout rate primarily in schools in the Njoro and Nakuru areas. While 29 percent of children in Nairobi are malnourished, that number increases to 42 percent in the Eastern Province (Daily Nation, Oct. 7, 2009).

The United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has stated that malnutrition is the major barrier to universal primary education in Kenya.

Famine conditions have also affected livestock in the rural areas of Kenya, undermining the primary source of income for pastoralists, especially the Maasai population.

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Beating the Global Food Crisis in El Salvador

On October 1, the Chamber of Agricultural and Agro-industrial Affairs in El Salvador published in a local newspaper that about 8 million quintals (1 quintal = 220 pounds) of maize were lost during the harvesting season last August.

Prices in general have increased, reducing the buying power of the average Salvadoran. On average, people are spending twice as much money on staples for the same amount of goods.

But Juan Carlos looks at his crops that extend over the mountains of the El Capulin community about 45 minutes north of San Salvador and says, “What crisis?”

He explains that he has received help with his crops from Compassion through the child development center his children attend. The help came through a Complementary Intervention (CIV) developed by Salem Bible Church with the advice from Compassion El Salvador.

Complementary Interventions are additional funds that are obtained through proposals written by the Compassion country office as a team with the implementing church partners.

Since sponsorship funds are strictly used to run the day-to-day operations at the child development centers — to meet the basic four components of child development (spiritual, physical, educational and socio-emotional areas) — additional funds obtained through CIV are necessary to implement additional benefits, such as entrepreneurship workshops, or to provide equipment for the centers (computers, water sanitation units, etc), or to offer crisis response and relief.

The CIV proposal Juan Carlos benefited from is called “Fertile Soil.” It has blessed a total of 19 families who had no resources to plant and who depend on agriculture for a living.

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Attacking the Global Food Crisis in Guatemala

Tall green mountains, healthy crops, rain right after noonday, wholesome soils. This used to be what people pictured when they thought of Guatemala.

But not anymore. The food crisis in Guatemala has become so severe that the president has declared a state of calamity, and the rate of undernutrition in children under 5 has reached 49 percent.

Many remember the famines in China in the 1950s and 60s. Or in Ethiopia in the 1980s. But famine is just not a problem of the past. It still happens in countries that have economies prosperous enough so that no child should have to suffer chronic or severe malnutrition. This is the case in Guatemala.

In Guatemala, the face of poverty and hunger is young, indigenous and rural. Guatemala, with the fourth-highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Central America and the Caribbean, faces a serious challenge in reducing the rate of chronic undernutrition.

One of the causes fueling the current food crisis is the state of education in Guatemala.

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You Give Them Something to Eat

you give them something to eat It seems we, as humans, are always passing the buck, or bucking the responsibility.

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.  — Matthew 14:16-17, NIV

Jesus saw the multitude and that the multitude was hungry. His attitude was not to leave their well-being up to someone else. He took responsibility and He wanted His disciples to assume this responsibility as well.

His disciples, however, could not see past their own limitations.

“We don’t have enough food for all these people” and “we don’t have the money to buy food for all these people” were the excuses Jesus heard.

The disciples wanted to send the hungry people away to fend for themselves, passing the responsibility of feeding the hungry back onto the hungry themselves.

Jesus, however, was not deterred by the physical limitations of the situation. He had bread the disciples didn’t understand. He understood the limitless nature of God’s provision, a provision not encased in the physical reality around us, but in the supernatural reality of God.

Is our response not much the same as the disciples when we are confronted with the need of the hungry?

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Finding Local Solutions to Weather the Ongoing Global Food Crisis

The entire world is going through a severe economic crisis, and these difficult conditions have also produced a food crisis in many countries around the globe.

México’s economy is not in good shape, and although México has not had a major food shortage; the main problem has been the constantly rising food cost and the distribution of the grains. Families can no longer afford to buy supplies for their children.

According to the social development secretary of state, most poor families in México spend more than 70 percent of their income just to feed their family.

Considering the cost of such basics as corn, beans, rice and other supplies, families have very little and barely any money left to cover the rest of their needs.

Rising costs, fuel costs and natural events, such as the drought in the north and central part of México or the floods in the south, harm the crops and leave the communities devastated.

Economy is normally measured with two basic indicators, income and expenses, and for these families, their income is lower and their expenses are higher.

Lack of employment, low wages and rising food prices have combined to worsen the plight of families here in Tabernillas and everywhere in the country.

The program director and other leadership from the Gethsemane Compassion-assisted program are clearly aware of the difficult situation the families here face and have taken the initiative to provide an answer to their community.

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The Key to Solving the Global Food Crisis

I heard the other day what many would call “good news.” According to the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, the recession is over.

Only the thing is, the “good-ness” of this news is relative … it’s only true for those of us living within certain geographic boundaries (read: the developed world.)

So, while we may be seeing signs of economic improvement in our part of the world, many other parts of the world are still in dire straits.

I recently received a report from our staff in Guatemala that says there are 54,000 families seriously lacking food. Fifty-four thousand. UNICEF says that almost half of Guatemalan children suffer from chronic malnutrition.

While the food crisis is not new, the reasons behind this reiteration of it are different from before.

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Fish and Eggs: Weapons Against the Global Food Crisis

A new day begins in the city of Siguatepeque, Honduras, and with it a routine process caarried out by two girls at a child development center egg farm. They change the chickens’ water and pick up the eggs.

“Hey, here is another one,” says Keila with enthusiasm while they search for more eggs and the chickens walk between their legs.

The center is in a fresh environment with lots of pine trees. The 140 chickens lay eggs to feed the 257 children at the Pentecostal Student Center.

One of the desired outcomes of our programs is the physical development of children, but the rise in food prices has worsened our church partners’ ability to help the children grow healthy.

In Honduras, 70 percent of families in the rural areas live in extreme poverty, and in the past year, the cost of basic grains has doubled. The price of fertilizer has gone up 71 percent.

This egg farm is one of the ways Compassion Honduras is responding to the global food crisis, which has created great difficulty in the holistic development of the children.

The chicken project started as a dream of this student center in November 2008, and the dream came true through our Complementary Interventions program (CIV).

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Global Food Crisis: Hope in the Midst of Turmoil

Global food crisis After a two-hour bus trip through chaotic traffic, I arrive at a child development center located in the northwestern part of Lima City.

center

The center is in a quiet place far from the noisy avenues, although the homes of squatters surround the church mission. The houses are built with precarious materials that show the poverty this community has to face. The mission is on a large property with buildings built long ago.

As I walk through the church’s wide, dusty dirt-floor patio, the center director greets me. With a wide smile and wearing blue jeans and a black hat, she looks ready to film the perfect Western TV series. Her name is Miss Pino and she is a graduate psychologist who has also studied at a Bible institute and has specialized in child advocacy and child evangelism. She has been appointed by her mission authorities as center director for Semillero de Campeones Student Center, which started in June 2008.

In this position, Miss Pino has to deal with many things she never thought she would, such as trying to keep the center open. The rising costs of household items – cooking oil, chicken, milk, etc. – has led to a 20 percent increase in food costs for all student centers in Peru.

For Semillero de Campeones, this has made it difficult to manage a program with 166 young children to feed, from which 40 percent do not have a sponsor yet.

Because of the rise in prices, many student centers have had to stop some activities such as camps, retreats and extracurricular activities. The budgets for each center are simply not enough.

Development centers with less than 160 registered children, such as Semillero de Campeones, have been more affected as they have fewer resources to face the crisis. Therefore, in order to continue serving the vital meals to the children, Semillero de Campeones received a special assistance through our Complementary Interventions Program (CIV).

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Seeds for the Harvest

Seeds for the harvest The green leaves start to receive the first rays of the sun, leaving the darkness and cold of the night behind. It is 6 in the morning and the harvest looks ready – ready to be separated from the corn bush, ready to become part of a meal, and ready to be part of a change in the lives of an entire community.

This is the fruit of seeds planted with hope, watered with hard work and dreams, and, at last, harvested with joy.

Pastor Damian checks two sacks full of beans. It is just the beginning of the harvest and the fruits already look promising.

Another man, Brother Juan, a seasoned farmer with dark skin and gray hair, is a perfect example of a Salvadoran farmer – thin but somehow robust, quiet and wise. Juan has served as an adviser to Pastor Damian since they decided to implement program “Double Seed.”

Juan talks about the beans and how they should keep some leaves and dirt in the sack so the beans will not lose the humidity they need.

“This way, they can last for about a year,” he adds, and smiles, knowing that the efforts made these past three months have given results – promising results that translate into hope.

It has been three months since Double Seed started in the community of Corinto, in Zaragoza, a city located eight miles south of the capital city, San Salvador, in El Salvador.

These past months meant sweat and great efforts for the people, but it also meant hope for a future that did not seem so clear a few months before.

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Facing the Global Food Crisis in Nicaragua

It’s 11:30 a.m. and lunch should be almost ready, but this home of seven people has only a small bowl of boiling water on their firewood stove.

The father just came back from a busy morning at the farm, bringing some beans that would be used for lunch, the only ingredient of the first meal of their day.

The global food crisis has hit so many people. Guillermo, father of three Compassion-assisted children and another who isn’t registered, used to have a steady job making bricks. But now he is no longer permanently employed. He lost his job because there wasn’t enough demand for bricks. He found another job at a farm taking care of beans and a corn plantation. Those two partial jobs together make an income of about $37 per month for Guillermo and his family.

Ventura, Guillermo’s wife, in her effort to help the home’s income, baby-sits her granddaughter, making about $75 per month with which they have to find a way to cover all of the family’s expenses such as food, clothes, water service, school supplies, soap, toothpaste, etc.

Since the family cannot buy as much as they used to, what they have in a normal day for breakfast is a cup of coffee with bread or just coffee.

For lunch, beans, a piece of cheese and tortilla that Ventura makes. And for dinner, most of the time is just another cup of coffee.

“The crisis has affected our health. We cannot improve our home or buy new kitchen utensils. My husband is working extra but still getting the same,” says Ventura.

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New Year Reflections for 2009

Happy New Year! We hope as you celebrate the beginning of 2009 you take time to reflect on the grand blessings and immense grace of the Lord . . . and prayerfully consider what the year ahead may have in store.

Here are a few of our highlights from 2008. In fact, they might be some of yours too; after all we could not have reached any of them without you!

  • We registered our one millionth child.
  • We opened the first Compassion child development center in Togo.
  • Compassion Tanzania registered its 50,000 child.

Of course, a year can be marked with trials as well. But through these trials the Lord is faithful to refine us as gold.

Many children and families already struggling to buy food have been, and are still, greatly affected by the Global Food Crisis. Although, with the guidance of God and your heart much has been accomplished:

  • 79,016 children have been able to receive immediate food relief because of your Global Food Crisis (GFC) donations.
  • In the Dominican Republic your GFC donations provided food certificates to 775 Child Survival Program participants. The main recipients being mothers and infants.
  • In Honduras your donations created productive micro projects such as poultry and fish production farms, to fight the crisis long term.
  • In Ethiopia, GFC donations helped provide therapeutic supplements, staple food grains and medication to nearly 11,000 families.

Thank you so much for your commitment to children in poverty this past year. They truly are blessed by your passion and faith.

In all things we can be confident that no matter where the Lord takes us, what situations He brings us into, or what blessings He has in store we will honor Him and be filled with His love.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:3, NIV

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Holes in the Pockets

Aleja wakes up very early in the morning, as she does every Saturday, to go to the market and buy the groceries for the week. She takes with her the same amount of money she usually does, but to her surprise she can’t even buy half of the things she needs.

At home, Aleja has five small children waiting for her to bring them something to eat. She is a single parent, mother of two sponsored children from Betel Student Center in the city of Oruro. She was abandoned by her husband and left with her children.

The family lives in a very small and dark room where they have three beds, a small table, some chairs and a small, wrecked shelf. Outside of the room, they use a small space covered with old pieces of calamines as their kitchen.

Aleja works washing clothes. She earns around $21 per week, and that is how she supports her family. She uses the money to pay the rent, the water, the electricity, the gas and buy the food and some things her children need for school.

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