Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Helping mothers feed children around the world

5/10/17 Chatterbox     
Betty Kaiser

A newborn baby is a mother’s most precious gift. The moment that baby is put in your arms you are flooded with an inexpressible, eternal love. Nothing will ever be more important than the child you are holding. You will love, cherish and protect that child forever. But sometimes life intervenes to make life hard for little ones and they need more than our love to save them

The faces of mothers and their children facing starvation in Somalia broke my heart as I witnessed their struggle to live on a television show in early May. ABC News anchor David Muir and Caroline Miles, CEO, of Save the Children, introduced viewers to Somalia a land of 20 million people all on the brink of famine and starvation including the children. I was one of those viewers.

As the cameras scanned the landscape, the reality of years without rain was revealed in pictures of parched earth, animal carcasses and bone-thin adults. Desperate villagers line up every morning for food and water. Trucks dispensed water through hoses at $4 a gallon. Each family hoped to get two buckets full. Enough to last two days.

The faces of emaciated children brought me to tears. The hollow-eyed babies with tiny frames had no flesh on their bones. They were limp and didn’t even cry during the final stages of malnutrition.  Their loving mothers were stoic as their babies suffer with diarrhea and pneumonia as their bodies shut down. Even the doctors are helpless to save these precious little ones.

The situation is dire. Their lives are in God’s hands and those of us watching from far away have questions …how can we possibly help these children from such a distance? How much money do we give to support the agencies that are serving them? And how do we know the money will buy what is needed for the children and their families?

I don’t have all the answers. But I do want to address the money donation amount—no amount is too small. Here's an example: I have a dear friend who is on a limited income. He regularly sends $5 a month to his favorite charities. It’s not much but he can afford $5. It makes him feel good that he’s helping others and if a thousand people do the same thing, the benefit to the charity would be $5,000! Think about it. Give what you can afford.

I am always skeptical of organizations soliciting money. So I checked out the rating for Save the Children at this website: www.charitynavigator.org. I have used this reliable source for many years. You might want to bookmark it on your computer. It gives you organization addresses, telephone numbers, how they spend their money, an overall score and rating for the charity.

Save the Children’s rating was 3.1 stars (out of 4) with 89.6% going to program expenses and services. In the comments section there was some chatter about salaries and other expenses. Too much money spent on overhead was the biggest complaint. My favorite comment about the money being spent was most charitable: “I look at it this way. I'm doing what every human should be doing and that's helping children.”

Of course, I don’t need to tell you there are a lot of scams out there. Be careful before you impulsively give. If you are unsure of a charity, check out such international agencies as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The United Nations Children’s Fund is another option.

UNICEF was created in 1946 to provide emergency food and health care to children after WWII.  It claims to have helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. They internationally provide health care, clean water, nutrition, education and emergency relief. https://www.unicefusa.org/mission

One of my favorite charities—Heifer International—has a different approach. Founded in 1944, its mission is to empower and feed the poor. They donate livestock to families who raise them and breed them both for eating and to raise money i.e. children can drink the milk and eat the eggs. Then, as the flock or herd grows, the family can sell the excess with one caveat: they must pass on one female (goat, heifer, chicken or whatever) to another family. Sharing the bounty is a win-win situation. This amazing program has a 3 star rating. https://www.heifer.org/gift-catalog/index.html

P.S. ABC viewers donated $800,000 to Save the Children within 24 hours of the TV show. Because of them, thousands of lives will be saved. I'm thinking that such donations to one of my favorite children's charities on Mother's Day is a good idea!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

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