Gifts of Love and Hope

An Ethiopian Girl Gets Closer to Her Dream

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 of Ethiopia

Mekdes has graduated from a cosmetology program and is now working toward having her own business.

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.”

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.

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.

A Gift of Seeds Helps Transform a Family Living in Poverty

Reporting by ChildFund Uganda

Ugandan girl

Jesca

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.

Girl in garden

Jesca in her family's maize field

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?

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?

Give a Gift of Love & Hope this Holiday Season

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?

girl milking cowTrue, 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.

Girl with chickenYour 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!

ChildFund Internship Influences Student’s Work

by Cynthia Price, ChildFund Director of Communications

Our former intern, Janine

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.give a gift help a child ChildFund

ChildFund Gifts of Love & HopeJanine created these three great ads.ChildFund's Gifts of Love and Hope for children in need

What do you think of the ads? And what ideas do you have to promote ChildFund’s work?

Last-Minute Gifts of Love and Hope for Everyone

If you’re down to the wire finishing your shopping, ChildFund’s Gifts of Love and Hope catalog has got you covered.

Each tax-deductible item will help vulnerable children in practical and tangible ways — and will be used exactly as described in the catalog. As you choose unique gifts and check off that shopping list, you’re helping ensure a brighter future for children and families in the 31 countries where ChildFund works.

Skills training for youth in The Gambia

A special card will be sent in your name to the gift recipients on your list. Think how pleased they’ll be to discover your special gift to them is also

  • helping children grow and play (soccer ball for schoolchildren in the U.S., #49675, $35)
  • providing a teenage girl with income (sewing kit and machine for a girl in India, #49513, $220)
  • investing in the future of young people (shop training for youth in The Gambia, #49515, $114)
  • providing wholesome milk and cheese to a child’s diet (goat for a family in the Caribbean, #49436, $37).

The ultimate stocking stuffer

You’ll find these gifts and many more in our catalog. Place your order online , or call ChildFund toll-free at 800-776-6767, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST.

Thank you for making a difference with a gift of love and hope!

P.S. And for the ultimate stocking stuffer — how about a see-saw for children in Sri Lanka? (#49487, $143).

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