Feeding the Children Not Just Food for Their Stomachs

Manila Bulletin, June 14, 2001 | Go to article overview

Feeding the Children Not Just Food for Their Stomachs


POVERTY, an international organization once said, is the biggest health problem in the world. It could also be said that poverty is the biggest sociopolitical, environmental, peace and order problem.

And, of course, poverty's main victims are the most vulnerable sectors of the population, particularly the children, as very clearly seen in many countries in Asia, home to half of the world's population. Children usually feel the impact of deprivation most because they are weak, voiceless, and without political influence. They are unable to go to school, often sleep hungry, work to earn a living regardless of age, and sometimes also suffer physical, mental and emotional abuse.

In fact, despite the Convention on the Rights of the Child, many countries in Asia still fail to care for and protect their children and guarantee the full exercise of their rights.

With very low per capita incomes - Vietnam $310, Cambodia $300, Lao People's Democratic Republic $400, Myanmar $200, China $860, and the Philippines and Indonesia $1,000 - many Asian countries are unable to provide basic services to their populations, especially the children. These countries have high death rates both among adults and children, poor access to safe water and adequate sanitation, poor nutrition, high fertility rates, and poor access to health and educational services.

Struck by the enormity of the problem, a number of individuals and organizations have made the region's vulnerable children their special concern.

One institution that has quietly but consistently championed the cause of children, especially the neediest, and taken concrete steps to ensure their bright future is the Feed the Children International (FTCI). Founded by Dr. Larry Jones in 1979, FTCI has been helping Asian children since 1984.

The non-stock, non-profit organization was established to provide food and other necessities - clothing, medical care and access to education - to poor, vulnerable, indigent children and their communities. Childcare and development constitute FTCI's core program, the various components of which aim to enable children to exercise their basic human rights:

* to proper health and nutrition

* to good education

* to safe water

* to protection from abuse and neglect

* to development so they can fulfill their aspirations in life

* to participate and be involved in issues that affect them and their community

Despite its name, FTCI does more than just feed children. After all, how much good can food do if the children are unable to go to school, have to work for a living or have to suffer abuse?

Over the years, FTCI has strengthened and expanded its activities to make their impact more significant and sustainable. It realized that, just as it is better to teach a person to fish rather than just feed him, it is also more beneficial if children are given an environment more caring, protective and respectful of their rights. FTCI's activities are now geared towards transforming a child's home and community so he/she can truly flourish, feel safe and work towards realizing his/her dream. …

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