Gifts of Love and Hope

Kin Is the Focus on International Day of Families

 By Meg Carter, ChildFund Sponsorship Communication Specialist

Think about your most important memories. Who figures in them? Your family, most likely.

Indian family

Neetu (center) and her family in India.

So what makes a family? The United Nations defines family in residential terms: a household of people related by blood, marriage or adoption, making common provisions for food, shelter and other essentials of survival.

The U.N. designated 1994 as the Year of the Family, and since 1996, it has recognized the International Day of Families, celebrated annually on May 15. This year’s theme is “Advancing Social Integration and Intergenerational Solidarity.” In other words, bringing many kinds of societies and different generations together, including vulnerable groups, so they have a voice in political, social, cultural and economic decisions.

Honduras family

Oscar and his family in Honduras.

By nature, families make long-term commitments. Parents care for children and, in turn, adult children support ill and elderly parents. Especially in developing countries, families share resources across generations. Families also decide together about major purchases, work division and savings.

What Households Look Like

Marriage, childbearing, adoption, death, migration and divorce directly affect households. Income and other socioeconomic variables affect fertility rates and — over time — the number of children. Other factors such as delayed marriage, reduction in child mortality rates and housing shortages can lead to an increase the number of adult children living at home.

Ethiopian family

Lemlem (center) and her family in Ethiopia. Photo by Jake Lyell.

Large households with many children correlate with low personal income and, on a national basis, high fertility rates correlate with low gross national product (GNP).

In the countries we serve, three-fourths of households include two spouses, although in Sub-Saharan Africa, one-third of families have a single parent or a single grandparent as head of household. In Kenya, where elderly widows often raise grandchildren orphaned by AIDS, more than a third of households are female-headed.

Effects of Migration

Youth migration poses another challenge to family structures. In Africa, rural poverty and youth unemployment is reaching crisis proportions, affecting communities we serve in Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia.

In 1950, only 11 percent of Africans lived in cities, but by 1996, nearly a third had migrated from rural areas in search of jobs, social mobility and other opportunities. The U.N. projects that half of all Africans will live in urban areas by 2025. Family ties still survive because city dwellers often send money home, but distance and poverty can shred such bonds.

As we acknowledge the fragility of families, we also celebrate their inherent strengths — loyalty, support and shared history. We invite you to invest in training for young adults and single mothers through a gift to our Family Livelihood fund.

This Mother’s Day, Consider Helping a Mom

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund staff writer

Having children is hard work, no matter where you live and what kind of assistance you have available. But think of a mother living in a developing country. She may not be able to give birth in a hospital, and she may lack the proper nutrition that both she and her baby need to survive. As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, here are some ways to show your appreciation for mothers who are striving to raise children in difficult circumstances. You even can give a gift in your own mother’s name if you’d like.

A Ugandan mother brings her child to a nutrition day in Budaka District. Photo by Jake Lyell.

A Ugandan mother brings her child to a nutrition day in Budaka District. Photo: Jake Lyell.

The Mama Kit, available through ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope catalog, has supplies for a pregnant woman in Uganda to use during and after delivery, and qualified health professionals provide education for women to ensure safe birthing experiences. This is important because Uganda has a high infant mortality rate of 64 deaths for every 1,000 live births (2012), according to the CIA World Fact Book.  For $35, an expectant woman and her baby have a better chance to survive.

Another item in the catalog is medicine for children and mothers in Liberia, protecting them from parasites, malaria and low hemoglobin levels. For $50, you can help stock ChildFund-supported clinics, which are run by trained community health volunteers. Health posts bring vital medication and education to communities that would otherwise go without.

Vietnamese girls and mother

A Vietnamese mother and her two daughters.

The catalog features other gifts that make for great Mother’s Day presents. Mothers in Vietnam will benefit greatly from a small micro-loan of $137, which will allow them to start their own agricultural businesses. The income they earn provides food, clothing and educational opportunities for their children. In Honduras you can buy books for first-grade classrooms for only $9. When children learn how to read, the whole family benefits.

Mothers around the world want the best for their children. This Mother’s Day, consider helping a mom.

A Frightening Brush With Malaria

By Silvia Ximenes, ChildFund Timor-Leste

Cristina Moniz was busy as usual one morning three years ago, getting her children up for school and preparing breakfast for them and her husband, Joaquim Lopez, a police officer in the Timor-Leste district of Covalima. She passed by her 7-year-old son Deonizio’s room, and to her surprise, he was still in bed asleep.

Approaching his bed, Cristina discovered that Deonizio had a fever.

mother and sons

Cristina and Deonizio (with his youngest brother) spend time at their home in the Covalima district.

“I felt not well at all, got headaches and vomited all the time,” Deonizio recalls today. “With all those conditions, it prevented me from going out; I couldn’t go to school or play around with my friends.”

It turned out that Deonizio had malaria, one of the deadliest diseases in the developing world, especially for children. He and Cristina first went to the village health post, Salele Community Health Center, which referred Deonizio to the hospital, where he had a blood test analyzed.

Cristina was shocked that her son had malaria, but the health center’s staff advised her to give Deonizio anti-malarial medication on time and keep the home clean and mosquito-free. This isn’t an easy task for Cristina, who now has five children and many duties. But insecticide-treated bed nets that arrived from ChildFund in 2011 have helped.

“Before getting the bed nets, there were many mosquitoes around the house,” Cristina says. “We are happy because there are no more mosquitoes, no more sickness.  Now, my family and I can sleep safely away from mosquitoes. No more malaria in our family. Deonizio can go to school any time,” she notes.

boy and baby on bed

Deonizio and his baby brother are protected by a mosquito net.

“I feel sure that mosquito will no longer bite me when I sleep under the bed net,” adds Deonizio, who is 10 now. “I’ll be freely doing my daily activities as usual, going to school, playing with friends.”

Having recognized World Malaria Day recently, we’ve learned about how many children are at risk of contracting this preventable disease in developing countries like Timor-Leste. Malaria kills 200,000 children worldwide each year, and many more become sick. However, the gift of a medicated mosquito net can mean good health, education and fulfilled potential for children in need like Deonizio and his brothers.

Need a Last-Minute Present? Give Love & Hope

By Kate Andrews

We all have friends or family members who have everything they want or need. They definitely don’t want one more thing taking up space on the coffee table. ChildFund has a great solution: Donate a gift to a child in your loved one’s name.

ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope 2012 catalog offers all sorts of needed items (at many price points) that help children and entire communities. For the full selection, visit our online catalog, but we would like to highlight a few gifts here.

A chicken farm with 50 chicks — a food and income generator in Mexico and Brazil — is $144, or $72 for 25 chicks. Each chicken farm will help an average of 10 children.

boy and banana treeBanana starter plants are important to families in Uganda who often struggle to meet their children’s nutritional needs. A gift of 20 plants, costing $35, can provide food and a possible cash crop. The extra income fills other needs like education, clothing and medication.

Another gift that leads to self-sufficiency is a set of gardening tools, which cost $54. Children can use hoes, spades, pitchforks and more to tend vegetable gardens. This gift comes from requests by children in Belarus, Ethiopia, Mexico and Zambia.children in garden with tools

If you’re having a hard time choosing a specific gift, donations to the fund for Children’s Greatest Needs provide help to many children in dire need, whether they have limited access to clean water and food, or live in a region affected by political violence or a natural disaster.

Just in the past two months, Guatemala experienced a strong earthquake, and the Philippines felt the wrath of Typhoon Bopha. You can donate the amount you prefer on your order form.

To provide information about your gift to your loved one, you can even print a last-minute card from our website.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

A Time of Laughter and Joy

By Kate Andrews

Who knew we had such musical (and comic) talent here at ChildFund’s international office? See for yourself with our 12 Days of Christmas Remix video that highlights selections from this year’s Gifts of Love & Hope catalog. A fruit tree sapling, a team of oxen, 12 head of cattle and other gifts are featured in song, all performed by ChildFund staff.

man and woman with garden tools

Matt and Jetta sing it!

Instead of “five golden rings,” we have “five garden tools,” sung by Matthew Straw and Jetta Washington from our sponsor care department.

That’s a traditionally memorable line in the original song (can anyone forget Miss Piggy in the Muppets’ version?), and Matt and Jetta make the most of it. Matt says they drew some attention the day before the shoot while practicing in the parking lot with props. “We wanted to have the most impact,” he says of their decision to sing number five.

woman with chicken

Kate, Melissa, Michelle, Krishna, Sara and Christine

woman with chicken

Shirley and her laying hens.

Melissa Wade of the marketing department is part of the team of “biker girls” and also sings the line about “11 wellness checkups.” She’s the only one pretending to ride a bicycle, in case you have trouble identifying her. Now “everybody walks past me doing that,” she jokes. “Typical Melissa, being silly.”

The video, which was filmed in ChildFund’s library after work hours, was a lot of fun to make, and everyone came up with their own performance ideas, the participants say. They hope the video will encourage people to donate gifts from the catalog, which are requested by children in the 31 countries ChildFund serves. Celeste Pounds, the senior marketing specialist who impersonates an ox in the video, was involved in creating the catalog from day one.

woman dresses as an oxen

Celeste portrays an ox.

As for the video, it’s worth looking a little ridiculous if we can help children, she jokes, although she did put on her sunglasses “in hopes of not being identifiable.” She adds that it was fun to spend time with colleagues in a setting away from the typical work environment, and the “milk mustache” and garden tool lines are among her favorite parts of the video.

woman and man with goat

Ashley and Kyle go over their lines.

Ruth Iswariah, a global human resources generalist, took on two roles: narrating the beginning and end of the video and singing the “two sturdy shoes” line, which she does in Hindi, the national language of India. Many children in developing countries lack sturdy shoes, and Ruth takes that situation seriously, so she asked a friend to let her daughter be in the video to represent the children who need shoes.

“Even though the video is funny, it’s moving,” Ruth says. We encourage you to watch the 12 Days of Christmas Remix, share it with your friends and family, and consider giving a gift to a child in need.

Looking for Meaning Beyond Black Friday

By Kate Andrews

Are you planning to hit the doorbuster sales on Black Friday (or, as these events creep into Thanksgiving, Gray Thursday)? You may already have your game plan: dashing first to the electronics department, or maybe toward the toy section, depending on what you’re after. We want you to take a minute and consider buying some necessities for a child who won’t get a video game or an electric scooter for Christmas. She may be hoping for a mattress instead.

ChildFund International has its own gift guide for people in need around the world, with prices that can fit almost any budget. Plus, these gifts will make you — and others — feel good for much longer than a month. We’ve prepared some comparisons:

For $40, you can buy a Blu-ray player. Or for $35, you can purchase a “Mama Kit” for a pregnant woman in Uganda. This gift helps ensure that she will have a safer delivery with supplies that she can use during and after the birth of her child.

“Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” is the most popular video game in the country right now. It costs about $60. A mattress, which can keep two small siblings from sleeping on a dirt floor in Ethiopia or Uganda, costs $39. The bedding is made locally, so you’re also helping the community’s economy.

Some of you may buy a piece of jewelry, say, a pair of diamond stud earrings, which are about $200 on sale. Consider feeding 30 orphans for a week in India. Cost: $120.

Furby is back, and it’s one of the most popular toys for this holiday season. These robotic plush toys are $60. For the same cost, you can purchase real animals that can help a family: six chickens for $58, or a pair of rabbits for $59. Children in Kenya raise the baby rabbits, which they sell. Often the money goes toward school supplies or other important needs.

Of course, you may be considering some high-ticket items. A tablet, perhaps, or a television? The newest version of the iPad costs about $500 on sale. A dairy cow costs $497, providing nourishment and income to a family in Ethiopia, the Philippines or Sri Lanka. A wheelchair for a child in Ethiopia costs $398.
A television can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,500 for a top-of-the-line LED TV with a 55-inch screen. Consider putting some money toward a hand pump that will provide water for an entire Indian village. Price tag: $1,429.

We at ChildFund want you to have a wonderful holiday season, with plenty of time with loved ones and good cheer. As you are giving thanks for your good fortune, we ask that you consider those who are in need. For more donation suggestions, please visit ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope online catalog.

Gift of Love & Hope Helps Nourish Bolivian Families

Reporting by ChildFund Bolivia

Of Maria Elena’s nine children, she and her husband still have six growing under their care on the outskirts of a big city in Bolivia. All girls, their names are Angelica, Eva, Margot, Gabriela, Rosmary and Nazareth.

Family with cow

Maria Elena and her daughters with their cow, Regina.

And then there is Regina. She belongs to them all, thanks to a contribution through ChildFund.

A few years ago, Maria Elena’s family received a cow through ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope catalog. The girls named her Regina. Maria Elena says Regina was the “greatest surprise and blessing” of their lives.

The cow provided a steady supply of fresh milk for the girls during their growing years, with enough extra that Maria Elena was able to share milk with the community center each week. This helped ChildFund’s local partner organization, Lucerito, in its programs to reduce malnutrition, which is one of the main causes of child mortality in the area. Lucerito also offers after-school support activities, access to health care and skills development workshops. Several of Maria Elena’s girls participate in the programs.

When Regina has baby calves, Maria Elena and her family give them to other families, creating a chain of benefits that has extended and multiplied — literally — within the community.

This gift of love continues to yield more gifts of love, making a difference in the lives of many growing children who live in extreme poverty in Bolivia.

Please visit our online catalog and choose a special gift for a child in ChildFund’s programs.

The Early Bird Gets…the Goat

By Loren Pritchett, ChildFund Writer

Attention early holiday shoppers! (And if that’s not you, we totally understand). But if you are the type who likes to get a jump on things, we wanted to let you in on the news: The 2012 edition of ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope catalog is now online and in the mail.

You’ll find hundreds of meaningful gifts in this year’s catalog including clean water, warm clothing, school supplies, medical needs and a barnyard of farm animals.

Child w/Goat

A child holds a goat she received from ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope catalog.

They’re not usually gift wrapped and you can’t find them at just any store, but goats are one of the most requested items in many of the countries where ChildFund works. Providing nutritious milk, fertilizer and a source of family income, goats are a valuable asset to families and communities. ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope catalog makes it possible to send this essential gift and many more to families in need. As an early shopper you will have peace of mind knowing that your shopping is done and your timely gifts are answering a family’s most urgent needs.

Honor your loved ones with a gift ordered before Dec. 15, and they will receive a personalized card announcing your generosity. For gift catalog orders of $100 or more, placed by Dec. 31, ChildFund will deliver a free mosquito net in your honor. Take advantage of these specials, order early!

Once you order – we take care of the rest! Each item in the catalog has been specifically requested by children and families who live in ChildFund program areas. ChildFund staff in each country will purchase and then deliver your gift. You can rest assured that each item is delivered and used as described in the catalog. In many cases of farm animal purchases, ChildFund will even provide gift recipients with additional training in animal husbandry to maximize the value of your donation.

For children in our programs, these gifts are an opportunity for a brighter, healthier future. We invite you to preview the catalog and purchase a gift of love and hope that will help change a child’s life.

Gifts from the Heart

by Cynthia Price, ChildFund Communications Director

My book club was gathered together eagerly looking through a catalog trying to find the perfect gift.

Two girls on bicyclesShould we get a bicycle? Or a dictionary? The new mom in the group liked blankets. And what about toys? Such a clatter arose as this literary group tried to decide how best to spend its pooled funds.

It reminded me of my childhood when the Sears Wish Book would arrive. I always enjoyed thumbing through all the pages and dog-earing some of them in hopes that my parents would share my wishes with Santa.

The catalog my book club was so animatedly studying was ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope. In year’s past, we’d always done a gift exchange but this year we decided we’d buy a gift for someone else. One member suggested giving through ChildFund’s catalog. Of course, since I work for ChildFund, I thought it was a wonderful suggestion. As did the others.

boy with goatBut what to give? Alicia, an avid kite boarder who loves the water, was in favor of a gift of clean water. Gloria loved the image of the goat on the catalog cover and was in favor of giving a farm animal. I liked the bicycles because I knew it meant girls who travel long distances to school would be able to get to school more easily. If they weren’t so tired from walking, they could concentrate better.

It was so hard to decide. We debated. We counted our money. We increased our limit. In the end, we remained true to our literary side. We chose a classroom map and dictionary. As Rowena said, “We’re a book club. We have to buy a book!”

girl with blocks

But that wasn’t enough for us. Tena, the new mom, made a good point about toys helping children develop. So we added in toys for an early childhood development center caring for sick children in Ethiopia.

We left book club without packages, boxes or bags. But like the Grinch, our hearts “grew three sizes that day!” And we left with a merry feeling.

Have you thought about giving a gift that will change a child’s life?

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 804 other subscribers

ChildFund
Follow me on Twitter