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Are You Celebrating One Day Without Shoes?

One Day Without Shoes

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

It’s time to give your toes some air, while raising awareness for children’s health and education. Tomorrow is One Day Without Shoes, an annual event hosted by TOMS that calls attention to the plight of millions of children whose future is at risk because they walk barefoot or have only thin sandals.

Here are just some of the problems these children face:

  • Over time, in countries like Ethiopia, people can develop podoconiosis, a debilitating disease that causes painful swelling of feet and legs. According to the World Health Organization, 4 million people in 15 countries suffer from podo.
  • And in many countries, children are often required to wear shoes as part of their school uniform. Without proper shoes, they may miss school, be turned away from class or drop out altogether.
  • Cuts caused by walking on rough ground can become infected and lead to serious illnesses.

TOMS Shoes, one of ChildFund’s partners, started One Day Without Shoes in 2007 to encourage people to take off their shoes for a day and experience a bit of what is a daily challenge for millions around the world. We encourage all ChildFund supporters to give this a try — and explain to the people you meet tomorrow why you’re walking through your town, your school or your office without shoes on.

Also, we’d love to see your photos — tag @TOMS and @ChildFund on Facebook or Twitter whenever you share your One Day Without Shoes pictures, and use #withoutshoes. Hope to see your feet on Tuesday!

A Sponsor and Alumni Reconnect Unexpectedly

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

Social media can be a mixed blessing. It’s easier to stay in touch with friends and relatives today, but status posts, tweets and pictures also can add distraction to our lives. The other day, though, we experienced a pure blessing on ChildFund’s Facebook page.

75th ChildFund logoA few weeks ago, Nicole Duciaume, regional sponsorship manager for the Americas, visited some of ChildFund Mexico’s programs. She met Guadalupe (whose nickname is Lupita), who works with one of our local partner organizations, often helping children write letters to their sponsors. Lupita was a sponsored child herself in Oaxaca, and she spoke fondly about her sponsor family from Oklahoma, the Talberts. More than 20 years after their sponsorship began, Lupita has kept the letters and photos from the family. (Click here to see a video of Lupita telling her story.)

As we do with many stories on the blog, we promoted it on Facebook. Usually we get a few dozen likes, a comment or two and perhaps a question about how to sponsor. The day that Lupita’s blog post went up, though, we received an unexpected message in the comments from Janice Talbert, who spotted the photo of her former sponsored child!

“This is so AMAZING,” Janice wrote. “I am so THRILLED to see LUPITA…she was OUR sponsored child. Of course, I had no doubt she would give back to her community. She wrote lovely letters to us for many years and then when we met her, she was warm, vivacious, bubbly and enthusiastic.”

Mexico visit

The Talbert family visits Lupita’s family (Lupita’s in the green-striped shirt) in Oaxaca in 2005. Photos courtesy of Janice Talbert.

Both Janice and Lupita still remember favorite letters they exchanged. Lupita’s was a letter she received on her 15th birthday, a cultural milestone for Mexican girls called the Quinceañera, marking the girl’s entrance into womanhood. Her family didn’t have money for a fancy dress or a big party, but the Talberts wrote that in their eyes she was still important.

Janice recalls the concerned letters that Lupita and another Mexican child they sponsored, Juan, wrote after Sept. 11, 2001, asking if her family was safe after the terrorists’ attacks. Janice says that her family, too, has kept every letter and drawing that Lupita and Juan made for them.

I had a chance to talk to Janice about her family’s 2005 trip to Oaxaca, when she visited Lupita and Juan.

Tonala Canyon

The families hike Tonala Canyon near Lupita’s village.

At that point, Lupita was in high school, and the Talberts had sponsored her since she was 4 years old. They had been hoping to make the trip to see her and Juan for quite a while, and the timing worked out well. ChildFund Mexico’s national office helped arrange the visit, and Janice recalls riding in a white van for hours. Lupita’s town was quite a ways from Oaxaca’s capital, but the landscape was beautiful.

Near Lupita’s home was a canyon circled by jacaranda trees that were blooming during their visit. Lupita’s family warmly welcomed the Talberts, and they had a great visit to Lupita’s school, church and neighborhood. “It was amazing to meet her,” Janice recalls. “We’d get a picture once a year, and she was always serious in the pictures, but she smiled a lot in person.”

Lupita remembers the visit fondly: “My family and I were very excited about the visit, and we planned the food that we were going to bring them. When the date of the visit arrived, I made a sign. Then we showed them the local partner’s facilities and some activities we have there. What is most important is that I had the joy of meeting them.”

 

zocalo

The Talberts spend time with Juan and his sisters at the zocalo, or center square, of his village.

The Talberts also formed a close bond with Juan’s family. Janice recalls the tough conditions in which his family lived – a home with a dirt floor, and a single source of electricity coming through a long, orange extension cord. Janice and her family took Juan to see the nearby Mayan ruins; he had never had the chance to visit this historical site.

The families were generous hosts and very proud of their heritage. “At that point, my Spanish was really bad,” Janice says with a laugh. “The people from Mexico are so warm and helpful. When you butcher their language, they still compliment you.”

Today, since Lupita and Juan have completed ChildFund’s programs, Janice’s family sponsors two younger children from Oaxaca. She hopes that one day she’ll hear from Juan as well, whom we learned is still living in Mexico and working at an optician’s office. He still plays soccer in his spare time, a love that has carried on from childhood.

For Janice, the excitement of learning that both of her formerly sponsored children are doing well and leading happy lives has been an unexpected blessing.

Vote for ChildFund Alliance!

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

We’re pleased to announce that ChildFund Alliance (the global coalition formed by ChildFund International and 11 affiliates) is a finalist in the MY World People’s Choice Award, sponsored by the United Nations MY World Global Survey. The survey asks people to identify changes that would make the world a better place.

Because this is a people’s choice prize, we need votes! Please take a moment to vote for ChildFund Alliance, and then invite your Facebook friends to do the same. Voting closes at midnight EDT on Sept. 17, and the winner will be announced at an event in New York on Sept. 25.

Myworld CaptureThe ChildFund Alliance created a child-friendly version of the survey and conducted more than 50 focus-group interviews with children, providing data to the U.N. To promote children’s engagement in the survey, the Alliance also organized a conference with more than 50 countries represented.

The MY World Awards recognize the work of organizations that have helped spread the word about the survey, which allows people to express their views about global priorities for the post-2015 development agenda. More than 850,000 people in 194 countries have participated, and the number is expected to top 1 million by the end of the month.

Thanks for voting!

World Water Day Tweet-Out Winners!

Last week, to build awareness around World Water Day, ChildFund asked its social media supporters to take to Twitter and inform their followers on the issues of water insecurity for children around the world. Today, we’re excited to announce the winners of our World Water Day tweet-out and share the five most inspirational tweets. The top tweeter and four runners-up will receive water-related Gifts of Love & Hope sent in their honor.

#Water4Children

#Water4Children

Top Tweet:
Hockey Chick @ChicksDigHockey
Water is life. Clean water impacts health, happiness and intellect. @ChildFund can show you how to save lives. #Water4Children #GiftOfLife

@ChicksDigHockey will have a 1,000 liter water tank delivered in their honor to a family in Mexico (valued at $190).

Runners-up:
Confetti ❤ @confettilove_
No matter if the glass is 1/2 empty or full… it needs to be clean! #worldwaterday #Water4Children

WASHadvocates @WASHadvocates
#Children just like our kids, nieces, nephews, grandchildren do not have clean #water. Together we can help #Water4Children #WorldWaterDay

STARS Foundation @STARSFdn
It seems (clean) water is more than just the source of life; it’s the source of health, education and dignity too. #waterday #Water4Children

Aksel Kibar @TechCharts
While we drink bottled water, some children around the world don’t even have access to tap water. Let’s give #Water4Children

We will deliver an apple tree seedling and a watering can to five children in Ethiopia in honor of @confettilove_, @WASHadvocates, @STARSFdn, and @TechCharts.

Thank you to all those who participated! We appreciate your help in informing others on the critical necessity of clean water for children.

One Simple Thing You Can Do to Save a Child’s Life

by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager

It’s World Malaria Day. But instead of launching into a litany of statistics, I’ll just share one hard fact: a child is dying this very minute—every minute—from this disease. And that just shouldn’t be.

Malaria is preventable. Malaria is treatable.

“In the past 10 years, increased investment in malaria prevention and control has saved more than a million lives,” says Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization. “This is a tremendous achievement. But we are still far from achieving universal access to life-saving malaria interventions.”

So you may be asking, “What can I do as just one person?”

Buy an insecticide-treated mosquito net from ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope for a child who doesn’t have one. And then ask your friends on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube to buy one, too. You may inspire a movement. At the very least, you’ll raise awareness.

A mosquito net costs $11. And you could be helping a child like 5-year-old Francis from Uganda.

boy with mosquito net

“In 2010, I received a mosquito net from ChildFund. Since then I have never fallen sick.”

Or, taking a worry off the shoulders of a mother like Margaret, who lives in Zambia.

mother and child

“It was very disheartening for me to watch my two-year-old daughter cry because of headaches and fevers. Sometimes she would completely lose her appetite.”

Just for today, World Malaria Day, I invite you to take a swing at the statistics. Use your social media clout to knock back malaria one child at a time.

Thanks for Traveling Around the World With ChildFund

by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager

Facebook promotion bannerOur February Facebook promotion has concluded with seven winners, drawn randomly from the group of entrants who correctly identified all seven countries in our photo album.

Congratulations to ChildFund Facebook fans:

  • Jorge Bosch, Fort Worth, Texas, USA
  • Nittha Chutipongpisit, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Alina Grishina, Brooklyn, N.Y., USA
  • Anne Haylock, Harvey, WA, Australia
  • Selena Kessler, Springwater, N.Y., USA
  • Phuong Hoang Pham, Portage, Mich., USA
  • Jill Punches, Portland, Ore., USA

In honor of the seven winners, we’ve sent an educational gift (a school uniform and/or school supplies) to a child in each of the seven countries featured in the photo album.

You’ll find photos of the children on ChildFund’s Facebook page. Their stories are touching.

Anmol, which in Hindi means precious, is enrolled in St. Anthony’s Orphanage Project in New Delhi, India. She received a school supply kit.

Brenda attends a child-friendly school in the remote and rural Honduran community of Sabana Ronda. Her grade point average last year was 94 percent. She received a new uniform and shoes along with some school supplies, notebooks and materials for arts and crafts.

Keli, who participates in ChildFund’s U.S. programs in Oklahoma, received much-needed school supplies and arts and crafts items.

Thilan, enrolled in Lanka Taiwan Children’s Program in Sri Lanka, was the recipient of a new school uniform.

Elise, whose family was forced to flee armed conflict and relocate to Ziguinchor, Senegal, now has educational supplies her parents couldn’t afford.

Irene, who participates in Kenya’s Kerwa Child and Family program, loves her new school uniform. She attends in PCEA Ruthigiti Academy.

Jenipher, whose parents are subsistence farmers in Zambia, has never owned proper school shoes or a uniform until now. She comes from a family of four children, and the family was overjoyed to receive the gift for Jenipher.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Facebook promotion and for telling others about ChildFund’s work with children in 31 countries.

Tweet With ChildFund on International Women’s Day

by Lee Steinour, Communications Assistant

Your tweets can help send a girl to school!

Starting today, March 5, and continuing through International Women’s Day on March 8 (5 p.m. EST), ChildFund is inviting its Twitter followers to tweet out on critical issues related to girls and women.

In developing countries, child marriage derails as many as 10 million girls a year from achieving their potential as women.

Lack of access to quality health care is another obstacle for girls and women who live in poverty.

And, in many countries, education for girls is a low priority or not available at all.

Girls in boarding school

Nanin'goi Girls' Primary and Boarding School, Mosiro, Kenya. Photo: Jake Lyell

At ChildFund, we believe the healthy development of girls is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty. When girls have a secure childhood, they grow up to be strong women who lead positive change in their communities.

To mark International Women’s Day, we’re asking ChildFund’s Twitter fans to help build awareness around issues critical to women by tweeting and retweeting posts.

Please use the hashtag #girls2women in each Twitter post. If we reach 200 tweets and retweets in four days, we’ll honor our Twitter followers by providing a one-year educational scholarship to a girl in one of ChildFund’s projects.

Invite your friends to get involved by retweeting your posts and creating their own woman- and girl-focused tweets.

Need help with tweet ideas?

How about answering the question: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Or, send out some of these suggested tweets:

  •  Secure girls become strong women #girls2women #IWD
  • An estimated 10 million girls are married annually before they reach 18 #girls2women #IWD
  • Girls under 15 are 5x more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s. #girls2women #IWD
  • Help a girl fulfill her dream of completing her education#girls2women #IWD
  • Ensure girls have the foundation to become future leaders #girls2women #IWD

Happy tweeting, and remember to use the #girls2women hashtag. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Winner of Facebook Promotion to Visit Uganda

by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager

The chance to travel across the world to meet a sponsored child doesn’t happen all that often for ChildFund supporters. Most faithfully write letters and exchange photos with children and their families for years, but few have the chance to meet face to face.

David Levis of Citrus Heights, Calif., now has that opportunity.

photo of David and Stacie Levis

David and Stacie Levis

David is the grand prize winner of the Experience of a Lifetime promotion, that ran on ChildFund’s Facebook site this summer. He and his wife, Stacie, sponsor 13 children in ChildFund programs. Five of the children live in Uganda, which is where David, a California school teacher, plans to travel.

“ChildFund has become part of our family, even to the extent that our three young children have become involved in writing letters and saving change to go toward buying cows for some of our families,” David says. “This has changed their perspectives on the world.”

David’s trip with ChildFund to Uganda will take place next April over spring break. And it’s an experience he looks forward to bringing home to his family and students. “Seeing the five children we sponsor in Uganda will help me better understand the complexities faced by their families,” he says. “I plan to share this firsthand information to help teach my students about the importance of global citizenship, and how they too can look for ways to help people around the world.”

We’re Giving One Facebook Fan the Experience of a Lifetime

by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager

We love sharing children’s photos, videos and stories on ChildFund’s social media sites, but we know there’s nothing like seeing the real thing.

Current sponsors and study tour participants who visit ChildFund projects around the globe return home with an expanded understanding of how poverty affects children and how one person truly can make a positive impact in a child’s life.

Inspired by their travels, they tell friends and colleagues about the experience and the work ChildFund is doing. And that helps bring new sponsors for children who are waiting.

Facebook image photoThat’s why we’re excited to launch a special promotion that begins on ChildFund’s Facebook site today and runs through June 30. One lucky winner will travel off the beaten path to see our programs in action. The four-day escorted tour will provide a firsthand view of how ChildFund is helping children around the world.

Wouldn’t you like to be the fan who wins the “Experience of a Lifetime” — a visit to see your sponsored child? Or, if you win and are not a sponsor, you’ll have a chance to tour a ChildFund program in the Americas, Africa or Asia.

Entry is easy: “Like” ChildFund on Facebook and complete a simple entry pass. You’ll also need 10 friends to “like” ChildFund on Facebook and support your quest by nominating you to win. Once you get the support of 10 friends, you’re officially entered. Every friend in addition to your first 10 earns you another entry in our random drawing. So the more friends you sign up, the greater your chances to make the finals! (Must be 18 and a U.S. resident of the lower 48 states to enter.)

You have until June 30 to complete your entry. Five finalists will be randomly selected. Each finalist will then prepare a short statement as to why he or she should win the trip.  We’ll then post those statements on Facebook, and one winner will be decided by popular vote.

Be sure to visit ChildFund’s Facebook page to enter the promotion. You could win the Experience of a Lifetime and make a difference in a child’s life!

Where’s ChildFund?

Posters and billboards of ChildFund are popping up around the country. And we need your help in locating them.

The posters are showing up in malls and airports (one was spotted at LAX) and the billboards are currently in the Richmond, Va., area.

When you spot one, be sure to snap a photo of it. Even better, have someone take your picture standing beside the poster and upload it to our Facebook wall or Tweet us (@ChildFund) the photo link. Be among the first 100 people to send in a photo and get a ChildFund wristband.

Be sure to include your name and location. We’ll feature the “Where’s ChildFund?” photos on our social media sites to generate more discussion about the critical needs of children globally.

It’s all part of a public service campaign now under way to raise awareness of ChildFund and the work we do to change the lives of children living in poverty.

Will you help us make the world better for children? It can start with a simple photo to increase awareness of the work we do every day.

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