Save the Children Federation

Save the Children is the world's leading independent organization for children. Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.
Nov 19, 2009

Green Mountain Coffee Helps Coffee Farmers in Nicaragua

Families benefit from Save the Children's food security programs in Latin America. Green Mountain Coffee cares about the people growing their product. This is why they have partnered with Save the Children to help coffee-producing communities in Nicaragua.

Together we are funding nutritional and economic development programs in the Peñas Blancas region of North Central Nicaragua, an area that relies on coffee production.

The area surrounding Peñas Blancas is among the poorest in Nicaragua. In a region where many households live on less than a dollar per day and do not own livestock, families face severe seasonal food shortages, known as "los Meses Flacos" (the thin months).

Save the Children has worked in this region since 2006, and our new partnership with Green Mountain Coffee only adds to this effort bringing life-changing aid to villages and families who need our help the most. Our shared goal is to improve nutrition, strengthen food security and build economic opportunities for the region's farmers and their children.

Over a three-year period, we seek to reach 750 families within the villages of Tuma-La Dalia, Rancho Grande, Waslala and El Cua in the Matagalpa and Jinotega Departments (states). We will help communities increase food supplies by improving food storage systems and diversifying crops to include foods with higher nutritional values. Farmers also need assistance, which we will provide, to develop business plans for their harvest ultimately allowing them to sell more crops in the market. Similarly, we hope to advance women's involvement in the economic development of their communities, and to increase community participation in groups and business associations.

With these vital programs, Save the Children and Green Mountain Coffee are helping communities build a healthier, more sustainable future. Our food security efforts teach families ways to avoid food shortages and increase nutrition, while our development projects also create greater economic opportunities.

We are proud to partner with Green Mountain Coffee. Together, our commitment will create positive and lasting change for coffee farmers and their children.


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Nov 19, 2009

Q&A with Bolivia's Newborn Health Expert

Bolivian mother with newborn child
Bolivian mother with newborn child

Bolivia comes in at number 75 out of 125 countries, ranked according to the overall health and well-being of mothers and children, in this year’s Mothers’ Index in Save the Children's 2006 State of the World's Mothers report.

Why is this country ranked below so many others? Bertha Pooley, the national advisor for Save the Children's newborn health program in Bolivia sheds light on the issue of health care for mothers and newborns below:

Beyond the ranking, what is the situation really like for mothers and newborns in Bolivia?

Bertha Pooley: The newborn death rate is three times higher in the poorest municipalities than in the highest. There is national health care, but the [newborn] population has been neglected because we are just discovering that one of the most important stages of life is the first 28 days.

Before, we were focusing on preventing illness in children over 2 years old, but then we began to discover that 70 percent die before they are 7 days old. Why were these babies dying? They had infections or diarrhea. They lacked vaccinations. They had respiration problems or they were born prematurely.

And the mothers?

Pooley: The relationship between the mothers and babies is very important. The respiratory problems of babies are usually directly related to what happens during labor. Low birthweight is directly affected by the mother’s pregnancy. If we want healthy babies, we have to have healthy mothers.

After the birth, is it true that umbilical cords are sometimes cut by using broken pieces of clay pots and babies are fed tea or urine, instead of breast milk, in their first few days of life.

Pooley: This is very common in Andean culture. The problem with pottery is that sometimes it can infect the cord, so we recommend that they use a new razor blade instead. If they prefer to use a traditional clay pot, we recommend they boil it first, for at least 20 minutes. Some cultures put drops of urine in the newborn’s mouth to cleanse it. It is a mix of religious and cultural customs.

They also delay the feeding of the baby because the first milk - it is called colostrum - is yellowish and many think it is impure. We had to explain to them that this milk was the most important because it’s like a vaccine for the baby. Before, they waited one or two days to breastfeed and would give babies chamomile tea in bottles.

How has this presented challenges to teaching safer care for newborns?

Pooley: We haven’t been teaching. We have been establishing communication with the mothers in the communities to exchange ideas. It is important to have this type of communication because they are going to teach us some things, too.

What is the main message you are trying to get through to mothers and midwives who come to your sessions?

Pooley: It has to do with several very basic things: warm and wrap the baby after delivery, early breastfeeding and delaying the baby’s first bath for 48 hours (because one of the problems that newborns have is they can develop hypothermia). You have to remember La Paz is 14,000 feet above sea level and it gets cold.

For instance, with small or premature babies a method like kangaroo care, where a mother can position the baby to have skin-to-skin contact with her, transmits a warmth between the bodies that can prevent hypothermia. If they have a low temperature, then this method can raise it and the beat of the mother’s heart can give the baby a rhythm for the beat of his or her own heart.

We are not saying that we are going to replace incubators, but it is important to have kangaroo care as an alternative for rural areas.The important message here is that we can save babies with low-tech, accessible methods that we can afford.

It’s amazing that something as simple as a mother’s warmth can save a baby’s life.

Pooley: I think everything is amazing! A baby’s life is amazing; to work with the Bolivian government is amazing; to see that things can get done with little money is amazing. Sometimes it is invisible things that make a difference. This message of saving newborn lives guarantees not only life, but a quality of life for this new generation.

Oct 1, 2009

Reduce Malnutrition for Children in Nicaragua- October 2009 Update

Since 1980, Save the Children has worked to improve the lives of Nicaraguan children and families living in poverty. After the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, we concentrated our efforts in the heavily affected departments of Chinandega and Leon.

Successes- Food Security: PROCENI (a Development Assistance Program) continued to show positive results. A final evaluation indicated a dramatic reduction of chronic malnutrition in children under age 5 from 22.5 percent (2002) to 9.6 percent (2008). The main emphasis in 2008 was on providing opportunities to groups of women, especially in organization, food availability and commercialization, and helping families serve as development models in their communities. Food availability increased 13 percent above target and the number of families that improved grain storage was 28 percent above goal.

Irrigation: PROCENI surpassed its irrigated cropland acres goal by 11 percent. By the end of the program, 615 families had improved production levels by introducing irrigation in 158 acres. A guide for establishing and managing irrigation systems was developed.

Micro-enterprise: The owners (16 families) of two successful micro-businesses, one in vegetable production and another producing seedlings, were trained in administration and accounting for small business. Both businesses established ties with their local and regional markets and now belong to vegetable affiliations formed in 2008.

Future Plans- Livelihoods: Top priorities include strengthening food production among low-income families, including mechanisms that allow them to obtain seeds and increase production time; helping families be more competitive in local markets; creating business plans that enable women to increase their income and establish savings; and strengthening agro-business capacity among women so that they can develop businesses and savings plans.

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