A Kiwi mum in Zambia

In the five years since Sally Angelson visited Zambia, she got married and had a baby daughter who is now 18 months old. Becoming a mum has made her even more determined to help.

Sally distributes mosquito nets to protect children while they sleep

Sally distributes mosquito nets to protect children while they sleep

Why were you in Zambia?
As Programme Manager I was there to monitor the partnership and the whole Luangwa programme. That means all the activities that are funded by ChildFund New Zealand. I had the honour of commissioning the opening of many completed projects, such as dams, classrooms, and water points. We were also planning the ‘roadmap’ – a 10-year vision which we can work towards, after which Luangwa will be self-sufficient and go forward independently. Continue reading

The sound of hunger

Videographer and photojournalist Jake Lyell was in Zambia recording images to show the impact of the drought in Luangwa on children and families. While photographing Alice and her family, he heard something that got his attention. Jake tells the heartbreaking story behind Mika.

What we hear is the sound of metal scraping metal. It was that deliberate, unsettling sound that echoed across the compound of this remote village in Zambia and drew me to discover its source. What we see is a three-year-old boy scavenging for every morsel of charred and hardened cornmeal leftover from his neighbor’s cookware in a vain attempt to quell his hunger.

As I frame this stark picture I’m reminded of an occasion when I myself scraped a bowl with such vigor. Continue reading

A mother’s fear for her children

Hellen and her family sit outside their home

Hellen and her children sit outside their home (Photo: Jake Lyell)

Every morning Hellen sweeps the kitchen in her hut and then draws water from the shared water tank. She takes the water home to wash dishes and cook cornmeal porridge for her children.

After feeding her children what will be their only meal of the day, Hellen goes out to the fields. Life in rural Luangwa is based around subsistence farming. Most years, Hellen grows maize and pumpkins. She gathers groundnuts (peanuts) and beans too. Despite her hard work this year, she has nothing to show for it. Continue reading

Drought in Zambia hurts children most

Starving Children Zambia Drought

Eight-year-old Alice outside her home in Luangwa, Zambia. (Photo by Jake Lyell)

Starving Children Zambia

Eight-year-old Alice lives with her mother and family in a village in rural Luangwa, Zambia. Maize is an important part of Alice’s diet. It helps give her the energy to go to school, do chores like the laundry and look after her family’s goats.

But today she has no energy to go to school or even play. The expected rains in November last year and in April this year were erratic and sparse, not enough to grow a field of maize to harvest.

“This year we have been hit by a horrible drought. There was not enough rain for our crops to grow. We harvested nothing.” Continue reading

Tackling Poverty

From a young age, our Fundraising Coordinator Elizabeth Maddison has been passionate about combatting poverty and inequality. After taking part in a Tackling Poverty in NZ workshop run by the McGuiness Institute and New Zealand Treasury in December 2015, Elizabeth recently travelled to Queenstown as part of an initiative to tackle poverty in the regions. Here Elizabeth explains the aims of the initial workshop and its impact on her.

Complex. Multifaceted. Challenging. These are the kinds of words that come to mind when poverty is raised as a topic of discussion.

Like many New Zealanders, I’ve been passionate about addressing inequality from a young age – I started sponsoring a child in The Gambia through ChildFund when I was only twelve years old. Then and now I felt strongly that poverty was something that could be fixed if we all worked together.

Tackling Poverty

Elizabeth with Chief Economist Dr Girol Karacaoglu in December 2015

It was for this reason that I was thrilled to be invited to attend a three-day workshop at The New Zealand Treasury in Wellington aimed at tackling poverty in New Zealand. Continue reading

Learning for a life free from poverty

In eastern Sri Lanka in a small two-room house with no front door and part of its roof missing, 10-year-old Meena rises at 4am to study. She dreams of being a teacher.

Meena’s mother Savrithi never went to school and her older sister Kamalini struggles at school.

People here in Batticaloa have had to survive without the most basic education due to war and disasters like the Boxing Day Tsunami. Many parents struggle to see the value of education in a place where basic survival comes first. But not Meena’s parents, they want her to do well. They are proud of their daughter who gets up so early just to study.

Savithri’s commitment to her girls’ education comes from what she and her husband Raja have suffered during their lifetime. Continue reading

VIDEO: Taking Kiwi teaching methods to the world

ChildFund’s Sally Angelson explains how the  ATLAS teaching programme based on Kiwi teaching methods that she co-developed is changing the prospects of children from Zambia to Sri Lanka. Kiwi support is vital to supporting the newest programme in eastern Sri Lanka and to giving children like 10-year-old Meena a brighter future free from extreme poverty.

Give Meena and children in Sri Lanka the education they need and donate today. Thank you.

Learning to teach – teaching to learn

Learning to teach teaching to learn

Challenging conditions to teach in and to learn in

In a rundown classroom with few desks and fewer books, Sally Angelson watched a local teacher struggling to teach tired, hungry children. Overcrowding only worsened the situation.

It’s a scenario the former teacher and aid worker has seen often. From teaching in a bush school in South Sudan to a refugee camp in Lebanon, Sally has seen first-hand how conflict and poverty shatters children’s dreams for the future.

“When you see communities where whole generations have missed out on an education you can see the damage it’s inflicted. I’ve worked with children and adults learning together in the same class.”

Sally knew there had to be a better way. Continue reading

One Year On: Finding strength from loss in Nepal

By Jacqui Ooi, ChildFund Australia, with reporting from ChildFund in Nepal

One year on: Finding strength from loss

10-year-old Anil is recovering from the loss of his older brother, Sunil, who perished when their house collapsed during the April 25th earthquake

One year after powerful twin earthquakes devastated Nepal, ChildFund staff report families are finding strength in the face of huge challenges, as they focus on rebuilding their homes and restoring their livelihoods.

“People are still living in extremely difficult conditions,” says Mariko Tanaka, ChildFund’s country director in Nepal. “Many remain in makeshift houses and suffered through the severe winter. Without resources or savings to rebuild and get back on their feet, families are largely reliant on the government or NGOs to support their needs.” Continue reading

Water is life

Today on World Water Day, March 22, ChildFund New Zealand Programme Director Shona Jennings shares her thoughts on the importance of water and the myriad of challenges ChildFund and communities face in ensuring a safe and plentiful supply.

I so love to glug water. Not genteel sips from a sipper bottle, but to stand by a kitchen tap, fill my glass and empty the whole thing within seconds. There is no more satisfying way to quench thirst. In countries where I work, like Kenya, Zambia, Kiribati and Timor-Leste, places where my thirst is the most pronounced, I cannot do this. Instead I have to use my handheld water filter called a LifeStraw and I have to suck with real force to draw out a single mouthful. To drink any other way is dicing with death or, at least, a very upset tummy which, believe me, you don’t want in countries where toilets are few and far between.

Charity Water Day - ChildFund

After a 10km walk, this is the water mother and daughter collect. (Photo: ChildFund/Jake Lyell)

As Programme Director of ChildFund New Zealand, I think a lot about how to get water to communities. Where there is water, it’s all about ensuring it’s safe to drink. When I say ‘communities’, the places ChildFund New Zealand works can be from the size of Matamata to the size of greater Auckland. So one simple water point is not going to cut it for the thousands of people who live there.

Solutions need to be many and varied. Some are:

  • Catching rain water (not so simple when most roofs are thatch);
  • Drawing water from rivers; or
  • Drilling into the ground to tap into underground water reserves.

Water engineers prepare hydro-geological surveys to find the most cost effective and environmentally-friendly means of satisfying a community’s water needs.

Plans are often complex in scale and cost. ChildFund is there to assist local governments as they improve conditions for their people. But the reality is that more than half of rural households in sub-Saharan Africa still lack easy access to safe drinking water.

Even when we reduce the hours spent fetching and carrying by getting water points closer to homes, there remains the question: is it safe to drink?

Charity Water Day - ChildFund

Dirty water causes diarrhoea - life threatening for children (Photo: ChildFund)

Water that looks dirty can be safe. Water that looks clean can harbour killer pathogens. And how can people tell? In the communities where ChildFund works, it’s trial by use. Over one million children die every year from dirty water and poor sanitation. Think about that figure: that’s almost all the children in New Zealand under the age of 17, dying each year.

Teaching parents about how to make drinking water safe is a vital aspect of ChildFund’s work. In Kenya last year, ChildFund trained 3,871 people on safe water treatment. Treatment solutions include:

  • Bio-sand water filters;
  • Solar disinfecting (where water in a clear bottle is left in the sun from between six hours to two days);
  • Boiling.

Hand in hand with this goes hygiene and the importance of keeping utensils clean. Which requires more water.

Charity Water Day - ChildFund

Water is important for good hygiene (Photo: ChildFund)

We know fetching water is daunting as a daily task, but to that you can add more hours spent collecting firewood to boil it so it’s safe to drink. Studies claim that many women in rural Zambia spend between 600 and 800 hours per year collecting firewood.

And then there’s the importance of water for growing food. In many communities where ChildFund works, people survive through subsistence agriculture. They need huge amounts of water to grow crops. Historically, nature has provided most of the water needs through seasonal rains. But more and more farmers tell us that they can’t predict the seasons any longer. Sometimes it rains too much. Sometimes not at all – for years.

Climate change has disrupted farmers’ access to water, and the result is that they cannot grow enough for their families to eat. Almost 1 billion people in the world are undernourished, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

In the countries we work, ChildFund is trying to secure sustainable sources of water for crops. With Kiwi support we have been busy:

  • Building dams in Zambia;
  • Excavating water pans in Kenya; and
  • Building irrigation canals in Vietnam.

Back here in New Zealand, the tap over the kitchen sink is a daily reminder to me of my good fortune, and my imperative to do what I can to curb the ‘disaster of water’. A disaster that kills more people each year than all forms of violence, even war.

This World Water Day, I shall raise a glass of water and pledge anew to ensure others the world over enjoy the same right to clean accessible water. I hope you’ll join me.

There is still time to join ChildFund’s Trek Vietnam for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to ChildFund project areas and fundraise to bring clean water to children and families in Cao Bang. Visit the Inspired Adventures ChildFund Trek Vietnam page to find out more.