Thursday, August 16, 2018

Dependent on the Big Three

How many different vegetables, fruits, and grain products do you see every time you go to the grocery store?  Hundreds I'm guessing.  Most of us are blessed with a huge variety of choices.

But did you know that, according to food experts who recently met in Iowa, only 30 plant species provide 95% of our global food energy needs? And that only three of these crops (wheat, maize and rice) provide half of the world’s food?  When one of the staple crops fails due to drought, flood, or pestilence, tragedy is often the result.  We're working to introduce new kitchen-garden crops, one at a time, to increase foods available in our program areas.  Lunches at our schools started with maize (corn) porridge only.  Since then the Kafwa have begun growing small gardens with a variety of greens, tomatoes and other crops to supplement the children's diet.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Style all their own

Just being ourselves, sir!

Two Rotarian visitors recently stopped by the Zamtan School to see the borehole (well) and water tank their clubs had funded.  The children greeted them with a charming welcome ceremony while the teachers and school board members graciously provided a tour of the school grounds.  When the visitors returned to the U.S., they called to say they had toured 25 Rotary water-project sites while in Zambia.  Zamtan, they enthusiastically added, was by far the most impressive of all of them!

The kids weren't real sure what the fuss was all about.  They were just being their charming, unique little selves complete with adorable hair-dos.  Fortunately for them, the visitors were so impressed they promised to be in contact to discuss additional projects in the near future.

Way to go kids!

Monday, August 6, 2018

City-villages: the Slum Areas of Kathmandu

Nepal often conjures images of small villages perched in the mountains and on the plains. However, there are other kinds of "villages" that exist within the boundaries of large cities like Kathmandu. Collections of little handmade homes stretch for miles along the riverbanks and form a kind of village community within the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city.  These neighborhoods are composed of hundreds of families living in tidy rows of fragile handmade shelters, only a small percentage with access to an acceptable latrine. Illness and the elements are a perpetual risk for everyone in these communities, but especially for the very young and the very old.

We visited two of these neighborhoods on our recent trip to Nepal.  HealthEd Connect volunteers are findings ways to meet the needs of these precious people through forming relationships with local women who are mothers and caregivers. They teach sanitation, nutrition, hygiene, and provide simple medical solutions, as well as bringing comfort and kindness

A little game of peek-a-boo

A kind gentleman

A row of handmade homes along the riverbank in Kathmandu 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Skinny Malawi

The tiny country of Malawi stretches a little over 900 miles from north to south and about 100 miles from east to west.   It has a small geographic area that hosts over 17 million people.

Landlocked with Lake Malawi on the East and Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania on surrounding sides, Malawi is dependent on its neighbors for many of its staples.  Just as the country is 'skinny' many of its people are also thin due to recurrent droughts, crop failures, and chronic health problems.

The Sinkhani health workers recently cared for Chisomo, a boy four years old weighing 17 pounds.  The Sinkhani began teaching the mother how to boost the child's diet with soya and reported "his mother worked very hard for this child."  He soon began gaining weight and now weighs 26 pounds. Another of many success stories from the Sinkhani.

The little dots on the map represent 14 sites where the Sinkhani health workers provide educational classes for the moms and monitoring for the babies.  

Monday, July 23, 2018

Good News/Bad News on Stunting


The bad news: Thirty-six percent of all Nepalese children under five are "stunted", or underdeveloped due to long-term malnutrition.  This shocking statistic is not just a number, but represents precious little lives that are affected by cognitive delays, small stature, and immature physical development and who are at much greater risk for contracting other diseases. 


The good news: The stunting rate is falling!! Not as rapidly as we would like, but it is much lower than it was in 2001 (57%.) This is largely due to education and early detection.


What we're doing to help: HealthEd Connect volunteers are a crucial part of the solution through teaching nutrition and sanitation, and encouraging long-term breast feeding. Weighing babies and children regularly is a critically important step toward catching problems early and providing opportunities to teach mothers about nutrition. The Nepalese government is working to bring the stunting rate down to 1% before 2030!! We can do it!

​This precious little one is getting weighed by a caring volunteer. 
Regular weight check-ups catch early signs of stunting and offer an opportunity
​to educate ​
mothers on nutrition.​

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Emily crossing the Luapula  River (2007)
from Zambia to DR Congo

Fantastic news!  We are doing a happy dance at HealthEd Connect as we announce our new Executive Director, Emily Penrose-McLaughlin!  It is difficult to imagine anyone coming better qualified for the job.  See what you think:
  • Deep compassion for people
  • Lived in Zambia for a year with husband, Jeff
  • Traveled to Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Directed World Service Corps: Coordinated volunteers in 16 countries
  • Coordinated top-tier donor relations at University of Pittsburgh
  • Project officer for new monthly donors in international NGO
  • Mother to:  Avery (age 6) and Noah (age 3)
  • Bachelor of Arts: International Studies
  • Master of Public Policy and Management:  Emphasis nonprofits
  • Former HealthEd Connect board member
We're thrilled and know you will be too when you meet Emily!  Feel free to drop her an email to welcome her aboard.

We're wishing Lauren Hall the very best in her new career adventure.  We'll miss her but look forward to her continuing as one of HealthEd Connect's most ardent supporters! 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Knowledge is Infectious!

Any salesperson knows that if you can create a little spark of interest in a great product the idea can take hold and spread like wildfire. HealthEd Connect inspires longterm change in the same way. We believe that sharing a simple idea or bit of information can change the world! An idea may begin small, but it can be passed from woman to woman, and then from community to community, and ultimately spread around the world. One such idea has begun with this group of ladies in Kathmandu. They are learning how to make homemade sanitary pads with the hope that this knowledge will be infectious and spread to many, many communities, making life easier for lots of women who cannot afford purchased products. Knowledge is contagious...pass it around!