Imagine a World Without Discrimination

On International Day for Eradication of Poverty, the United Nations General Assembly asks us to imagine a world without discrimination. For those of us who live in developed countries, our experience with, and perspective on, discrimination is likely quite different from those who live in extreme poverty. That’s why we must – as the U.N. advocates – recognize people living in poverty as critical partners for fighting the developmental challenges we face worldwide.

Involving children and families in creating solutions to the problems they face is a key tenet of ChildFund’s mission. We know that when people are engaged in the act of change, then that change is much more likely to be sustained over time.

ChildFund works to bring about change and promote equality on many levels, but here’s one child-focused example I wanted to share from the APHIAplus (AIDS, Population and Health Integrated Assistance Plus) program in Kenya. Funded by USAID, this program is implemented through a partnership among ChildFund, Pathfinder International, Cooperative League of the USA, Population Services International and the Network of AIDS Researchers of Eastern and Southern Africa.

A little earlier this year, the project partners put on an art and photo exhibition aimed at helping children and youth imagine a better world. Called Nipe Nafasi’ – a Swahili word meaning “give me a chance” – the exhibition invited children to submit art and photos illustrating issues that affect them in their daily lives.

Weslyne, 13, entered a photo he took of the Dandora dumpsite, which is close to his home. Covering 30 acres, this overflowing dumpsite takes in about 850 tons of solid waste generated daily by Nairobi’s 3.5 million inhabitants. It’s the largest dumpsite in Africa, and was declared full 40 years ago.

Weslyne and his family have to live daily with the stench and the filth. Birds, pigs and people thrive in the dumpsite, scavenging the heaps of rubbish for food and materials like scrap metal and polythene bottles and bags that can be sold. Weslyne explains that the dumpsite also attracts children and youth who would rather scavenge than go to school. His photo shows a young boy drinking water from a bottle found at the site.


Just by taking this photo, Weslyne has found a way to speak out for change. On International Day for Eradication of Poverty and every day, we must listen.

Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, who was recently named as Children’s Ambassador, attended the art exhibition.

‘My Vision for Africa’

On May 25, the African Union marks the 50th anniversary of hard-fought efforts to promote unity, economic development and a better life for Africa’s people.

We asked children in our ChildFund programs in Kenya to express their vision for Africa. Here’s what they had to say:

“That the children of Africa will live a life free of hurt and pain.” – Maxwell, 12 

“Children should not be forced into child labor. They should get an opportunity to go to school and get educated.” – Valentine, 13

“I dream of an Africa whose children get a chance to an education, free of drugs and girls are not forced into early marriage.” – Angela, 13

Maxwell, Valentine and Angela

50 Days of Action for Women and Girls

The “50 Days of Action for Women and Girls” campaign is underway with several organizations, including ChildFund, seeking to advance progress in U.S. foreign policy efforts on the following issues:

  • Ending Early and Forced Marriage
  • Ensuring Quality Education for Women and Girls
  • Preventing Violence against Women and Girls
  • Improving the Health of Women and Girls
  • Promoting Economic Empowerment of Women and Girls
  • Achieving Peace and Security for Women and Girls
  • Protecting Human Rights & Promoting Leadership and Participation of Women and Girls
  • Putting Women and Girls at the Center of the Post-2015 Global Development Agenda.

This week, the campaign is focusing on quality education for girls and women. So I wanted to share a link to a video about our work with two unique girls’ schools in Kenya.

One school “books” girls for an education instead of early marriage. Another features solar-powered lighting so courses can be held in the evenings after the days chores are done.

Happy National Peace Corps Week!
Remembering my days living in northeastern Kenya as a volunteer in the 1970s. It was an amazing experience that taught me so much about the developing world — and about myself.
This is a great week to learn more about the Peace Corps mission. It might change the course of your life.

Happy National Peace Corps Week!

Remembering my days living in northeastern Kenya as a volunteer in the 1970s. It was an amazing experience that taught me so much about the developing world — and about myself.

This is a great week to learn more about the Peace Corps mission. It might change the course of your life.

A Thank-You Note

We received a sweet note from children in our Kenya programs. Seeing their happy faces reminds me of the important work we are doing through the support of ChildFund sponsors and donors:

We say Thank You to our sponsors

For your kindness and support.

We learn, eat and play

Because of you.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Children from AIC ECCD, Archers post, Northern Kenya


An Unusual Christmas Dinner

With no family to spend Christmas with during my two years in Kenya as a Peace Corps volunteer, my fellow volunteers became my family. One year my Christmas holidays were spent in northwestern Kenya. There my fellow volunteers gathered to celebrate the holidays in the Pokot tribal area, home to a traditional tribe whose customs included wearing animal skins and eating a meat-based diet.

We didn’t exchange gifts – volunteers have no money to spend. Instead, our focus was on spending time together. We honestly didn’t mind sleeping on the floor or in tents and having too many people sharing one bathroom. We were having fun in the way young people can. But we never dreamed it would be so difficult to cook our Christmas dinner, the focal point of our celebration.

The volunteer who was our host had purchased a turkey for the occasion – a live turkey. She thought she was keeping it safe near her house but two young children practicing their hunting skills with bow and arrows killed the turkey a week before Christmas! With no refrigerators in sight, my friend and her neighbors ate the bird before we arrived.

Ever resourceful, our group pooled its cash and bought a few chickens for our Christmas feast and made a Robinson Crusoe-style oven (a large metal pot with a lid and charcoal on the top and bottom) to cook them. The chickens took forever to cook; yet, when we finally ate, what we lacked in style and cuisine, we made up for in spirit.

Perhaps feeling responsible for our missing a turkey feast, community members, dressed traditionally, gathered the next day and danced and sang for our group. Soon, they paraded in a cow and slaughtered it in our honor. One enterprising member of our group, experienced from working in a butcher’s shop while in high school, elbowed his way to the front and carved out the filet steaks. That night we ate the best meal that the tribe could offer us. We were grateful.

From my work with ChildFund, I know that 870 million people do not have enough to eat, and 98 percent of them live in developing countries. As you enjoy your Christmas dinner and count your blessings this year, I would ask you to also think about what you can do in 2013 to ease the hunger of others across the world.