USA (MNN) — Child survival is at the heart of what the Center for High Impact Philanthropy has named one of the top social impact programs for 2016. Gary Edmonds of Food for the Hungry says it’s the ministry’s prayer that the care group programs they have been doing for almost a decade in developing countries will now help other ministries learn how to save lives.
Mothers helping mothers
“We have what are called ‘care groups’ or ‘cascade groups,'” he explains. “You work with the lead mothers in communities, and then these mothers go out and form groups of anywhere from five to ten other mothers.” The program equips the mentors with resources to teach about nutrition, disease prevention, and well-baby care.
“It significantly raises the child survival rate,” shares Edmonds. “We had, in some situations, a decline of more than 30 percent in child mortality. When you look over a five to, in some cases, a ten-year time period, we’re literally seeing 5,000 to 6,000 children’s lives saved who otherwise might be lost.”
Eradicating all forms of human poverty
Food for the Hungry focuses on eradicating all forms of human poverty, and in the care groups, the training addresses both the physical and spiritual needs of the mothers and their children.
Edmonds explains, “We deal with the social beliefs and behaviors of the people, and so as a Christian organization, one of the pieces we will train them in is the fact that all of the children are gifts of God. Teaching another that she is the one who Jesus has appointed to love that child — and that dramatically changed the way she thought about that child. That child was no longer simply just an object, but that child was a gift given by God to her and she was appointed as the caregiver, as the one on behalf of Jesus to be the heart and the hands to show love to that little child.
“On another front, we’ll teach them how to weigh and measure a child, we’ll teach them about diet, we’ll teach them about the benefits of breast feeding and not to give solid food too early, about re-hydration when a child gets a disease and might face diarrhea.”
Setting up a care group can cost as little as $3 to $4 per person, and the benefits go beyond the health and wellness of the child. When the mothers come together in community and learn skills that will help them better parent their child, Edmonds says a sense of nobility arises.
“We’re seeing 60 to 70 percent lowering of any form of domestic violence where women come together in these care groups and learn better principles, truths, [and] processes for caring for their children.”
Sharing what works well
The Center for High Impact Philanthropy, based at the University of Pennsylvania, doesn’t merely look at anecdotal stories when evaluating programs for their effectiveness. According to Edmonds, every metric is studied to determine true impact. Food for the Hungry passed muster, and now other organizations are asking for guidance in developing similar mentorship programs. The ministry is more than happy to share its wisdom.
“We want to influence others, and by influencing others we want to share what works well,” says Edmonds. “We want to end all forms of human poverty, and we know therefore that for us to be able to end human poverty, it’s not going to come about strictly or solely by Food for the Hungry growing and expanding our own capacity and our own reach. It’s going to take an army of people — [more] than what Food for the Hungry can actually mobilize. And so consequently, we want to be at a posture of open-handedness. We want to have a mindset of saying, ‘Let’s share, let’s reveal, let’s open up and let others know what is working, what’s effective with us. And at the same time, let us have a posture where we can be humble and learners from others as well.”
Edmonds says supporting Food for the Hungry’s efforts with time, talents, and resources is always a blessing to those they serve in more than 20 countries.
He says, “We would pray that there would just be favor, that we would have what we need – enough to continue to carry on. In the world, there’s a lot of volatility right now. In these kind of places, I just pray that there would be peace, that there would be a place of freedom, that our staff would be kept safe and we would be able to move forward to save lives, to benefit lives of those who are the poorest, the most vulnerable around the globe.”
If you’d like to know more about Food for the Hungry’s Child Survival Program, visit their website. And consider giving to the ministry so more care groups can be formed.
See the full Center for High Impact Philanthropy 2016 High Impact Giving Guide.