By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
In celebration of the 75th anniversary of ChildFund, we are running a 75-post series highlighting our past, present and future. Today we hear from longtime supporters Sue and David Gossman.
Sue Gossman’s church started sponsoring a child through what was then known as Christian Children’s Fund in the early 1970s, when she herself was a teenager. As she grew up, went to college and then married in 1976, she continued that sponsorship. Sue and her husband, David, sponsored more children as the years passed, a commitment that continues today.
Now, they support 10 children through ChildFund, and their generosity includes a meaningful Christmas tradition: giving gifts from ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope catalog to children and communities in need.
“It really goes back a couple of years,” David explains. “It didn’t make sense to give large gifts to everybody in the family.” In previous years, he and Sue, who split their time between Illinois and Iowa, have chosen items from the Gifts of Love & Hope catalog to give in honor of their three daughters and other family members, but this past Christmas, their loved ones chose gifts themselves. The family gathered in December 2012 at David’s parents’ 60th anniversary celebration, so David and Sue brought along the catalog.
One daughter, who is a veterinarian and an EMT, picked out a fully stocked health station, and another daughter who likes to sew donated a sewing machine. The Gossmans also like to donate a gift yearly that has a long-term, infrastructural benefit, often assisting a village to grow its own food or have clean water. This year, along with the health station and the sewing machine, the Gossmans donated a water filter, a scholarship for a child in Ethiopia and a starter farm.
“It was a way of saying, ‘Hey, this is what Christmas is all about,’ ” David notes.
Also, through their years of sponsorship, the Gossmans learned how much good even a small donation can do.
“We’re always astounded at how far the Christmas and birthday gifts go,” Sue says of the monetary gifts the couple gives to their sponsored children. For only $8 or $10, a whole family can purchase clothing and party treats, David adds. One boy they sponsored in Africa since the age of 5 or 6 wrote the Gossmans a closing letter after he had turned 18 and was leaving ChildFund. He’d finished a tailoring course, and he was saving money to buy his own sewing machine to start a business. Sue and David decided to step in and purchase the machine for him.
“He’s becoming a part of the community who is giving back in a productive way,” David says proudly. “That’s a fantastic long-term thing that happens.”
One of their daughters, who started a job just after finishing graduate school, now sponsors a child in Africa, so the Gossmans’ tradition continues.
“Something as basic as clean water is pretty amazing, that that’s considered a gift,” David says. “Much of what we discuss in the letters with the children is education — encouraging them to continue with it and work hard on it. It’s so important to them.”
The United Nations declared Aug. 12 as International Youth Day in 1999, so ChildFund is taking this week to focus on challenges that especially affect teens and young adults, as well as celebrate young people who are showing strong leadership in the countries we serve.
Reporting by ChildFund Ethiopia
Mekdes, an 18-year-old girl from Ethiopia, received a one-year scholarship in March 2012 through ChildFund and our Twitter followers to mark International Women’s Day. We checked back with her in July 2013 to see how she was doing.
“I trained in hair dressing for six months and graduated in September 2012,” Mekdes reports. “I started working in one hair salon in our village four months ago, earning a monthly salary of 600 birr [approximately US$32] that enabled me to fulfill our basic needs and cover the medical cost for my grandmom, who has asthma. I have also bought a cell phone for myself and also started to fulfill my needs, such as clothing and shoes.”
Mekdes was chosen as a scholarship recipient for a Twitter campaign ChildFund launched in honor of International Women’s Day. She had encountered many hardships, having lost her father at a young age; her mother couldn’t take care of Mekdes on her own. She also had to drop out of secondary school despite having good grades after her grandmother lost her job. When we met her last year, Mekdes had to work as a hairdresser and a day laborer, but today she has the hope of one day owning her own business.
She has passionate feelings about International Women’s Day because it demonstrates that all women have the potential to be productive and involved in community development. Mekdes also explained that since women are vulnerable in many ways and are sometimes affected more by poverty, the need for supporting them in their pursuits is important.
“In the future, I have a plan to get further training in a boys’ beauty salon, and I have a plan to open my own beauty salon,” Mekdes says. “After fulfilling the income need, which is a priority for us to survive, I will continue my education. I would like to thank ChildFund for helping me to be successful in my life.”
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
Banana 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reporting by ChildFund Uganda
Jesca ate better this year. The eight-year-old, who lives in Uganda’s Busia, Buyengo community, had suffered from malnutrition. But she began to flourish after her family received maize seeds from ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope catalog.
The family of nine – Jesca has four brothers and two sisters – had been scraping by. The father and mother struggled as subsistence farmers, barely growing enough to eat.
Jesca’s mother couldn’t stop smiling as she looked at the maize she had been given to plant. “This is the beginning of my new life,” she remarked. Jesca was also happy since her mother kept telling her that the maize had been given to the family because of her enrollment in ChildFund’s programs.
In addition to providing the seed, ChildFund also trained the family in modern farming techniques to increase crop yield. So not only is this gift improving the children’s nutrition, the additional outputs are also boosting the family’s income, as they now have surplus maize to sell.
With the initial proceeds Jesca’s parents have bought other seeds, including ground nuts (peanuts) and eggplant. And, for the first time, they’re been able to acquire other basic necessities like salt, sugar and soap as well as books and school uniforms for Jesca and her siblings.
“I would like to wear good clothes and shoes, eat good food and sleep on a soft bed like the children of the rich men in our village,” Jesca confided, pointing to her bed made of reeds. “I would also like to speak good English like teacher.” She dreams of one day working in the medical field.
That dream doesn’t seem as far away as it did last year. Jesca’s parents have attended additional ChildFund training sessions to learn how to improve their family savings and to plan better for the future. It’s been a remarkable year of improvements in health, education and livelihood prospects. And it all began with a simple gift of seeds.
Will you help change another child’s life?
by Cynthia Price, ChildFund Communications Director
My book club was gathered together eagerly looking through a catalog trying to find the perfect gift.
Should 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.
But 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!”
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?
by LaTasha Chambers, Communications Associate
It’s that time of year when you make your holiday gift list and check it twice. Before you head out to fight the crowds at the mall, may I suggest adding a chicken or a cow to your gift list?
True, neither will fit into a stocking hanging over your fabulously decorated mantle, but both will fit right in with a family in one of the countries where ChildFund works.
And you don’t have to make a trip to the mall! You’ll find these gifts and more in ChildFund’s 2011 Gifts of Hope & Love catalog. Each item is chosen specifically for the families who live in the regions where ChildFund works. These are the gifts they desire and need most. The catalog features unique presents like chickens, cows, goats, water pumps and weaving supplies – something special for everyone on your list.
Your loved ones will be honored to know that you selected a gift in their honor that enhances the quality of life for children and families. Chickens provide nutritious eggs; cows provide milk and also manure for improved farming soil; and water pumps provide entire communities with reliable water source. Purchasing a goat enables a family not only to receive nourishment from milk, cheese and yogurt, but also income from selling these resources.
A gift from ChildFund’s catalog is a perfect way to honor a relative, co-worker or friend. In addition to purchasing a special gift, you have the convenient option of shopping online or by phone (800-610-9013). So on Black Friday, feel free to lounge in your favorite pair of holiday pajamas while you peruse the Gifts of Love & Hope.
Here’s to a meaningful, stress-free holiday season!
by Cynthia Price, ChildFund Director of Communications
Janine Infurnari interned at ChildFund last summer. For one of her classes at Virginia Commonwealth University this year, she and fellow students were asked to pick a charitable organization around Richmond, identify the nonprofit’s target audience and come up with an ad campaign to attract volunteers or donations.
Not surprisingly, Janine picked ChildFund. “I thought of ChildFund immediately since I had interned and was very familiar with the work you do and the brand itself. It was a positive experience and I felt a connection with the brand, so I enjoyed thinking about it further,” she says.
“I wanted to focus on a lesser known way to give donations, so I chose gifting,” she explains. ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope catalog became her focal point for the project. “The option to give a gift might appeal to a college student or single parent who might not have reliable funds to sponsor a child but still wants to help,” she notes.
Janine created these three great ads.
What do you think of the ads? And what ideas do you have to promote ChildFund’s work?