What does food mean to you?

Food.  noun, often attributive \ˈfüd\

1 (a): material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy; also : such food together with supplementary substances (as minerals, vitamins, and condiments)

1 (b):  inorganic substances absorbed by plants in gaseous form or in water solution

2:  nutriment in solid form.

3:  something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies….

We first met Andiseni (pictured with Ben Blanchard) in 2005.  He was brought to Mtendere Village severely malnourished and close to death.  Like many children in Malawi, he was a victim of the severe drought that destroyed vital crops throughout the country.

To Andiseni, food represented survival.

There has been a lot of discussion about food shortages and famine in recent months—images of children in the Horn of Africa, where more than 30,000 of them have died in last three months, have flooded the airwaves.  When I see them, I think of Andiseni.

This is Andiseni today.  He is a healthy, active six year old boy who loves to sing and play with galimotos (toy cars made out of wire).  He also has a great imagination, and can often be found building and “driving” cars made out of straw and whatever other materials he can find around Mtendere Village.  We were able to reach Andiseni in time, but we know there were many more children that we were not able to help.

The development sector often operates under a strategy of reaction instead of preemption, which inevitably means that lives will be shattered before an appropriate intervention is in place.  At 100X, we want to intervene before a crisis peaks.

In Malawi, fish is a vital protein resource; however, the current per capita fish supply is far below WHO recommendations.  Translation?  There are not enough fish for everyone—a deficit that greatly contributes to protein deficiency and malnutrition.  Which, according to the World Food Program, leads to reduced physical and mental development during childhood, greater risk during pregnancy, difficulty resisting disease, and diminished capacity to learn and do physical work.

Since food is so important, and fish is one of two primary sources of protein in Malawi, we have teamed up with fish experts.  Yes, there really are fish experts—not just people who fish well.  Our team is made up of the who’s who of aquaculture.

Auburn University’s Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures:  The international experts in building fish farms—an entire department of incredibly smart people, who know what it takes to get the fishing industry in Malawi up and running.

Chief Napoleon Dzombe: Chief Napoleon is a fish farming entrepreneur (and a highly respected chief in Malawi) who will be helping us connect new fishing techniques with the hundreds of farmers that he knows.

Maldeco:  This nonprofit corporation has been a major player in seeking to save the native fish, the Chambo, and they manufacture fish food.  We will be working with them to improve and expand the fish food they make to help farmers grow more fish.

Our role?  We are going to build state of the art fish ponds that are connected to farms.  The fish will live in water that will also be used for irrigation—that means that the stuff we normally filter out of the fish tank (enough said) will enrich the water used to water crops.

Sound Interesting?  Have you ever caught a fish with teeth?  Or scuba dived in a lake with 400 species of tropical fish?  You might need to take a trip to Malawi to visit the 100X work there, or perhaps you would like to just meet with our fish team to see what you can do.  Visit our website to see how you can help us help children like Andiseni!

Lindy Blanchard, Co-Founder and President

A child’s first…

I am thankful to report that this past April – June, we were blessed to receive 17 more children at Mtendere Village.  Our staff got to experience many of the children’s “firsts”: first time to ever sleep on a mattress, first time to wear a pair of shoes, first time to see a camera, and, first time ever to meet an American.

It was our 2 year olds’ first time in life to be held. Andrew’s father disappeared before he was born and his mother died after giving birth. He was raised by his grandfather which meant staying home alone for days at a time with no food while his grandfather occupied the local beer halls. There was no stimulation or human interaction. When he was brought to us, he was not only malnourished but emotionally vacant. The love of the other children overwhelmed him. After 30 days of constant love and attention, we watched as for the first time ever, Andrew reached for a hug and for the first time since we received him, he smiled.

Jaziel is our 4 year old who lost both his mom and dad. His grandmother could not feed or clothe him. Much like all our children, Jaziel came to Mtendere with only the clothes on his back. It was his first full day and the sound of the lunch bell rang. Jaziel asked, “What does that mean?” and Michael (our 5 year old) told him, “that is the sound of lunch, lets go get our food!” Jaziel said, “You mean we get to eat again?”…. Not only was this the first time for Jaziel to wear new clothes, but it was his first time in life, to be fed twice in one day.

Fatsani (our 6 year old) after losing both his mother and father, lived with his grandmother. When his health began to suffer because she was not able to care for him, the Chief of his village brought the urgent matter to us. After a month of living at Mtendere, he looked and behaved like a new child. At this same time, his aunt came to my house and said she had just received the news that her only sisters son was taken to a place that she was told “sells children to America.”  She was in tears and demanded to see her nephew. She asked if she was too late. She wanted to know if we had sold her only connection to her late sister. As I began to explain to her that we do not “sell children to anyone” and talked with her more about our programs, she suddenly saw Fatsani running to her in the distance. She covered her eyes, rested her head on my shoulder and cried out, “Praise God for you all at this place! I’ve never known people like you who would take in orphans and treat them like kings.” For the first time in his life, Fatsani was according to her being treated like a king! Praises to the King of Kings for blessings like this!

Dana Blanchard, Director of Operations for Malawi

Literacy Changes Everything

“Literacy unlocks the capacity of individuals to imagine and create a more fulfilling future.” Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the UN

By 12:00 p.m. this afternoon, I had already read nine newspaper articles, seven blogs, one UN report, four chapters in two books, as well as countless emails and Twitter updates. I’ve written emails, texts, Twitter updates, a couple Facebook messages, three documents for work, and now this blog update. A typical day. For me.

Consider for a moment that I was never taught how to read or write. How different would my life be? If I were not literate, I would never have “met” some of the most influential characters in my life story. I would never have fallen in love with the history and culture that was so foreign to my demographically homogeneous hometown. I would not fully understand the need to give a voice to those who have been silenced. I cannot perceive a path that would allow me to do what I am doing today without the ability to read.

Now, consider the young girl in Africa that dreams of being a nurse, but was never able to attend school, or the young boy that would love to fly planes, but he does not know how to read and write. I’ve met many of these children–who have a passion to change their world, but lack the basic skills to do so.

There are more than 800 million people worldwide who are not able to read and write, with millions more who only have basic literacy skills. We know that literacy increases child survival, economic opportunity, and hope for future generations. On International Literacy Day, we want to give these people a voice.  We want to help change their circumstance.  Will you join us?

Kimberly Casey, Special Assistant and Program Manager

Guest Blog: Lessons

We were not the only teachers. The children taught us things that no professor could ever teach in a classroom–lessons that we will forever hold in our hearts.

As future teachers, helping children learn and succeed is one of our many passions. Arriving at the orphanage in Mtendere Village we were unsure of just how this passion would be sparked, but it quickly lit on fire and burned the whole time we were there. Some of us had spent minimal time working with children, especially directly in a classroom. This experience level quickly changed as we were divided up into different classrooms our second day at Mtendere. There were some students teaching the housemothers of the village, others in preschool age classrooms, and then others in primary or secondary aged classrooms. Every classrooms proposed challenges and situations to apply different teaching methods we had been taught all the way back at Ball State University.

Some students even had the experience of working one on one with the children at Mtendere, in an hour and half tutoring session everyday. These tutoring sessions allowed us to work on a more personal level with the children and help them individually in the area of reading. The sessions consisted of learning the level of reading our student could achieve, and work on areas such as comprehension that proved to be more difficult. The sessions not only consisted of helping the children with reading, but it also proposed opportunities to get to know and create relationships with our students.

Our time in Mtendere was spent mostly with the children; we acted as teachers to them whether it was in the classroom or playing games. We were not the only teachers. The children taught us things that no professor could ever teach in a classroom–lessons that we will forever hold in our hearts.

Bethany Thompson is an Elementary Education student at Ball State University.

Guest Blog: We Stand for Children

Teacher Training

We all realized that we could learn from each other, and we were all there for the very same reason: we all stand for children.

During our time in Malawi, we were given the amazing opportunity to teach fellow teachers in a professional development day our group organized. We extended the invitation to join us on this day to teachers all over the area around Mtendere Children’s Village. The day of the event, 32 teachers joined us, anxious to learn from us. They were so anxious and eager to learn, in fact, that some walked from up to eight miles away just to be there.

Being a group of students much younger and less experienced than most of our participants was a challenge we had to confront, as some teachers there had over 30 years of experience. However, once the day began, we all realized that we could learn from each other, and we were all there for the very same reason: we all stand for children. Our group of Ball State students and the Malawian teachers, despite our age differences and varying experiences, were united on this day, and we collaborated to learn how to better serve the children of the world.

Prior to coming to Malawi, while we were planning for the professional development day, we were told that the teachers were interested in learning about teaching theories. With that, we decided to teach Lev Vygotsky’s theory of the Zone of Proximal Development, scaffolding, and differentiation of instruction. The day was broken up into two parts: the first being a direct instruction part and the second being a collaborative group-work portion. During the direct instruction, three girls from our group basically gave the information in front of everyone, while the teachers were given papers with which to take notes. For the group-work portion of the day, we all broke into small groups with two girls from our group, and around four or five Malawian teachers. Here, we further discussed the topics at hand, and collaborated to come up with ways the theories could be put into action in our classrooms.

It proved a struggle for many of the teacher’s to envision these theories in their classrooms because in their classrooms, they may have up to 200 students for just one teacher. Despite the differences in classroom environments and cultures, the Malawian teachers were incredibly open to new ideas, and were eager to share their own knowledge with all of us. In the end, we asked everyone, Malawian teachers and Ball State students alike, to share a bit about what they liked or learned during our time together. It became clear that we all learned a great deal from one another, and would definitely be taking new insights back with us into our classrooms and lives.

Lauren Rayborn is an Elementary Education student at Ball State University.

Creating Spaces in Nagpur

31 Million.  According to UNICEF, this number represents the number of orphaned children living in India—21% of the estimated 147 million orphans worldwide. We have provided housing for hundreds of children in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Nagpur through our partnership with Reaching Indians Ministries International (RIMI), but these statistics support our belief that much more needs to be done.

While we are saddened that circumstances deem it necessary, we are excited for the opportunity to expand our orphan care program in Nagpur, India, and welcome more children into our family there.  Under the leadership of Reverend Saji Lukos, RIMI and 100X support and educate more than 100 orphans and vulnerable children in Nagpur; however, we want to reach more.  So, we are expanding!  We have recently begun construction on a second floor addition that will provide additional room for staff and children.  We never want to be in the position that we cannot accept one more.

Read more about our partnership with RIMI, and join us in our work to reach the orphans of India.


Human Trafficking…Children at Risk

In Moldova, orphans age out of the system at 16.  With nowhere to turn, they often end up living on the streets.  The perfect victim for a greedy trafficker. Offering a “solution” to their circumstance, traffickers recruit these young women (and men) to work in an entry level job, often in a different country. For many, this is the most exciting thing that has happened to them. As orphans, they have no one to ask for advice, no one to warn them of the dangers. They happily accept the position and begin their journey. Unfortunately, this journey is not the hopeful new beginning that they had imagined. Instead many are forced into prostitution, required to service as many as 40 men a day. Others are forced to work in construction or on farms with little to no compensation. They are beaten and enslaved.

According to the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, issued by the U.S. Department of State, Moldova is primarily a “source” country for human trafficking.

Moldavian women are subjected to forced prostitution in Turkey, Russia, Cyprus, Bulgaria, the UAE, Kosovo, Israel, Indonesia, Malaysia, Lebanon, Italy, Greece, Ukraine, Czech Republic, and Romania. Men, women, and children are subjected to conditions of forced labor in Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, UAE, Israel, and Greece in the construction, agriculture, and service sectors.

This report corroborates what we already know–that orphans are a population “highly vulnerable to human trafficking.” To protect them, prevention must be a top priority.  In collaboration with Stella’s Voice, we are working to protect these young men and women by providing a safe place for them to go when they are required to leave the orphanage.  We not only provide shelter, but education and a sense of community.  For the abandoned and abused, it is a place to remind them that they have a hope and a future.  Join us.

International Confederation of Midwives-Triennial Congress

Dana Blanchard, 100X Director of Operations for Malawi, attended the 29th Triennial Congress of the International Confederation of Midwives in Durban South Africa on June 19-23.  She joined more than 3,000 midwives and leaders in maternal health from over 100 countries to advocate for the role of midwives in reducing maternal and newborn mortality.  The Congress provided an excellent platform for conference participants to share best practices and ideas for tackling this important issue.

The Congress also served as the official release of the State of the World’s Midwifery report issued by UNFPA.  The report delineates gaps in maternal healthcare and the shortage of midwives across the globe.  The country profile for Malawi reveals that:

  • There are 3,000 maternal deaths each year
  • The lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 36
  • There are 278 birth complications each day
  • There are 4 midwives for every 1,000 live births

With increased access to healthcare, these deaths are preventable. Dana and the 100X team are working with our partners at the Auburn University Schools of Nursing to establish a training program for midwives and community healthcare workers.  More about this program is available on our website.

100X Development presenting at the United Nations

The 100X Development Foundation will present at the InfoPoverty World Conference this week at the United Nations.  Co-Founder, Lindy Blanchard will discuss ways that 100X is helping to leverage maternal health and orphans and vulnerable children’s issues in Malawi with technology informed approaches.  100X Initiatives include an innovative maternal health approach that both educates and connects villages in Malawi with maternal health information and tools as well as ongoing efforts to strengthen and nourish children in Malawi that are orphans.  Nearly 1 million orphans have been left in this African nation by poverty and HIV/AIDS and more than 800 women per 100,000 will die in child birth.

100X Meets with First Lady Callista Mutharika of Malawi

On Wednesday, December 8, the 100X team met with Her Excellency the First Lady of Malawi to discuss our current projects in Malawi and to collaborate on a maternal health program.  Mrs. Mutharika is a strong advocate for maternal health programming in Malawi, and 100X is looking forward to working with her on this important project.

Right now, 1 in 18 women in Malawi will die during their lifetime due to complications and lack of medical care during pregnancy and delivery. For every 100,000 births that occur in Malawi this year, more than 800 mothers will die during delivery or shortly after because of complications.  These deaths are preventable.

100X is working with Mrs. Mutharika and others to develop a program that will provide training and nutrition to pregnant mothers, and then strengthen the capacity of midwives and community healthcare workers to respond to the needs of mothers in areas where obstetric care is systematically lacking.