Speechwriter Jeff Porro has helped Fortune 250 CEOS and the heads of some of the nation’s most influential nonprofits.
ChildFund is fortunate to have been one of his clients. One of the toughest types of speeches to write is a commencement speech so when ChildFund’s President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard was asked to give the commencement speech for Assumption College, her own alma mater, Jeff agreed to write it based on input from her.
In a recent interview Jeff was asked about his favorite speech and he cited that commencement speech. “[Anne] is a terrific woman with a great sense of humor, and she was very willing to share wonderful stories,” Jeff recalled. “I’m very proud of that speech, but Anne made my job pretty easy.”
The commencement address can be viewed online.
If you want to know more about speechwriting, check out Jeff’s new book, Words That Mean Success.
by Anne Lynam Goddard, ChildFund President and CEO
Anne is in Kenya this week, where more than 3.5 million people need food aid as the worst drought in 60 years spreads across the Horn of Africa. One of the most affected areas is the Turkana region, where ChildFund is responding.
It’s a dusty and bumpy drive to Lokitaung in northern Kenya. You can taste the dust in the air. It’s early in the morning and already the heat is unbearable. Without water, nothing grows in this hostile environment.
We stop at a health tent. “Thirty-seven percent of children under 5 are malnourished here,” a local nurse tells me as she weighs a young girl. “Eight percent are severely malnourished. That’s a sharp increase compared to last year.”
In times of food shortage, children under 5 are the most vulnerable to malnutrition. Inadequate food intake in young children has lifelong growth and development implications. That’s why ChildFund is focusing its relief efforts on providing food to those 5 and younger, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers. We are using existing structures we have in place on the ground, including health facilities and Early Child Care and Development (ECCD) centers, to deliver food and water.
At the ECCD in Lokitaung, it’s just past 11 a.m., and the children are crying and hungry. They line up to receive a bowl of unimix – a nutrient-rich porridge. This is their first meal of the day. Since ChildFund started providing supplementary food, the number of children coming to the ECCD has soared. Mothers tell me they have carried their children for more than 5 kilometers, walking in the blistering heat to reach the ECCD center this morning.
Back at the health tent, Emuria, a 5-year-old boy, is having his mid-upper arm circumference measured. He looks frail. ChildFund’s health interventions include monitoring child growth to spot malnutrition at the early stages, providing vitamin A and iron supplements, deworming, vaccinating against measles and polio and also treating minor illnesses.
Mothers I speak to complain about eye irritations because of the dry and dusty conditions. Children are coughing. Today, we’re also testing mothers for HIV/AIDS. Luckily, all have tested negative.
In the afternoon, we visit the remote village of Kariburi. The road is even bumpier and dustier than the one we traveled this morning. Everywhere you look is the same landscape — dust fields. We drive through one dry riverbed after another. Turkana really is the epicenter of the drought in Kenya.
The situation in Kariburi is dire. Malnutrition levels far exceed emergency thresholds. In the local ECCD center, the young children are calm and quiet. They lack the energy to play. A combination of food insecurity, falling nutrition levels and poor access to health and water facilities has left children in need of urgent support. Immunization coverage is extremely low, which puts the under-five population at risk.
ChildFund is distributing relief food (maize, legumes and beans) to families today. Women line up and carry bags away on their heads. They have come far distances.
I’m happy to see that local women are involved in the relief distribution. The more you can involve the community, the better. ChildFund has also trucked in drinking water. A large crowd has gathered around the tap. Women have brought their containers to carry water back to their homes. ChildFund is also providing training on hygiene and sanitation practices. It’s in times of food shortage that people become weak and more vulnerable to disease outbreak.
Our help is needed most desperately. Thank you for your support.
by Anne Lynam Goddard, ChildFund President and CEO
If ever there was a country ChildFund needed to be in, Liberia is it. Following a brutal 13-year period of civil war that made children into soldiers and destroyed the social fabric of society, Liberia signed a peace treaty in 2003, beginning a long journey of restoration.
Having just returned from a visit to this resilient nation, I found positive signs of progress. In the capital, Monrovia, the story is a hopeful one. Everyone I spoke with believes the country is getting better. People are moving with purpose. They are working to rebuild. They say the most important thing they have is peace.
ChildFund arrived in Liberia two months after the treaty was signed. In those early days, our work focused on reintegrating child soldiers back into their communities. After years of civil war, societal rules fall away — rape and violence against women and children are just accepted as the norm. A generation grows up not knowing any different.
We played a major role in reintegration, and were recognized by UNICEF as number one in child-protection work because of our training of school authorities and police and military leaders — sensitizing them to gender issues and child-protection issues. The Liberian Ministry of Defense now has a child-protection unit. The government now has a Ministry of Gender and Development.
Although ChildFund has finished its reintegration work, Liberia still ranks at 162, just seven from the bottom, on the U.N. Human Development Index, a comparative measure of a country’s life expectancy, literacy and living conditions.
Women and children’s issues are top of mind for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s president — the first woman leader of an African nation. When I met with the president during my visit, she acknowledged significant progress in the attitude of children — just through the look of hope and inspiration seen on their faces. The president has visited ChildFund’s early childhood care and development Center in Bopolu — and contributed to fencing around the center to improve safety for children.
The ECD center is managed by the Gbonkuma Women’s Group, whose members are also recipients of small loans to start income-generating businesses. Leader Ma Fatu told me that ChildFund Liberia has shifted the lives of many women and children who had no means of improving their lives to self-sustainable levels in their communities. Now this group’s mantra is “Women! Don’t sit there; do something positive!
I also visited a livelihood project in the Blamacee community near Monrovia. ChildFund Liberia, with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has built houses for former Sierra Leoneans, who after almost 20 years of refugee status, are now integrating into Liberian society. We’ve also helped them obtain small plots of land for gardening, which provides a source of food and income.
In Liberia, women are a major driver of positive change. Women are enthusiastic about contributing. There is a feeling of hope; it’s a fragile sense of hope, but it’s palpable.
Join Anne on International Women’s Day for a chat on Facebook, March 8.
Post your questions related to Liberia and women’s issues on ChildFund’s Facebook wall beginning at 12 noon EST, and Anne will respond live from 12:15 – 12:45 p.m.
By Ellie Whinnery, ChildFund Public Relations Manager
Throughout the month of May an interview with Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund International, is airing on American Airlines’ Sky Radio.
In the interview, Goddard explains our mission to this national audience. “ChildFund has a great advantage, thanks to our sponsors, in that we are able to stay with children in their communities as they grow from infancy to childhood and into adolescence, and eventually transition into adulthood,” she notes.
The segment is airing on more than 29,000 American Airlines flights, reaching 4.2 million travelers across the United States this month.
To maximize our impact with airline travelers this month, a ChildFund International TV spot is also airing immediately after CNN Headline News between 5-8 p.m. at airports in 44 major markets across the U.S.
by Cynthia Price
Director of Communications
At ChildFund we know that the individual circumstances of every child are unique, and the communities and countries in which they live are often very different. We also know that our supporters – through their sponsorships and donations – provide interventions that can move children from being the victims in a tragic story being told the world over, to one where they are authors of their own, more hopeful narratives.
Our President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard frequently references this goal when she speaks. As a communications person, I am drawn to the idea of children authoring a hopeful narrative for their life story.
One of the things we aspire to do well at ChildFund is to share those narratives. We’ve been meeting in recent weeks to figure out how we can do this better. Should we ask youth to journal and share their entries through our Web site? Should we tell the stories through videos? Should we interview children and youth and tell their stories for them in traditional feature writing format? We think it will be a combination of these ideas and others.
We want to tell stories well and develop our signature style. That requires incorporating the voices of young people and illuminating their role as actors in their own development and success as they transition through life’s stages.
We already have some great content from the 31 countries in which we work, but we don’t always make it easy to get to. We’re working to change that. We also want to allow user comments, share more video and enable you to commit further if you are interested by linking you to areas where you can donate.
Through our Web site and our social media, we want to use stories to connect you better to the children whose lives you impact and also to explain the why and how behind ChildFund. We want to create a user experience that is worth your time.
If you have suggestions on how to do that better, we’d love to hear from you.