Emma Anderson and Lauren Spicer, two sophomore students at Newark High School in Ohio chose Vitamin Angels to focus on for their Human Rights and Making a Difference project. They presented their work to their class along with some self-designed promotional materials including a t-shirt, brochure, magnet and keychain.
Thanks to Emma and Lauren for representing Vitamin Angels at their school!
Paulina (17 years), an indigenous Quechua woman, was waiting on the 'porch' (a concrete slap about 2’x5’) in front of Dr. Cerillo’s home and clinic when we arrived at 7am today. We were 5 hours from Santa Cruz and another hour and a half from our base in El Puente. Paulina’s two children, David (4 years) and Claudia (11 months), are bundled up against the cold morning air. Paulina has walked, gotten rides and paid a minibus fare to get here – about an hour and a half journey from her village. She is worried about David and an abrasion looking rash on the right side of his face (skin problems are often associated with vitamin A deficiency). Both children have runny noses, colds and respiratory problems, conditions which can be life threatening for children who are chronically malnourished. Paulina tells us that she recently lost her two month old baby because the roads were impassable and she couldn’t get to medical help in time.
After a consultation with Paulina, our group along with Dr. Cerillo and two local health nurses, Lila and Maxima, drove another hour and a half to reach to Arca de Noe for a first round of distributions and then traveled on to Monte Sinai. The road was honestly invisible for 45 minutes as our Land Rover plowed its way through the 8’ tall grass (watch the video). In the communities we visited distributions were run out of open-walled buildings with a dirt floors, thatched roofs, and nothing but wooden plank benches inside. The mothers and children all waited patiently as Fatima and Felicidad, from our partner organization World Concern, made sure every child under 5 received vitamin A and antiparasitics. The posters Felicidad made to explain the importance of vitamin A and deworming were a major attraction for the children. We saw them repeatedly pointing to the pictures and diligently reading every word. Dr. Cerillo and his nurses spent time with each family, listening to the children’s lungs, consulting on health problems and charting heights (most are stunted due to chronic malnutrition) and weights.
Marcia Furst and Tom Schott, our friends from Vitamin Shoppe who joined us on this trip, helped interviewed some of the women and children in Monte Sinai and later Lagunillas. We meet Flores Monteno who tells me her daughter Silma will not eat, one of the signs of chronic food insecurity. Children’s bodies know there is not enough food and often go into starvation mode with reduced appetite only exacerbating the problem. In addition to the vitamin A, we gave Flores a bottle of children’s multiples provided for this trip by our partners at Vitamin World.
Later we met, Marybell (8 years), Jose (11 years) and Rosemary (14 years) whose mother died three years ago during childbirth, again because it was winter, the roads were impassable and she couldn’t get to doctor or hospital in time. Rosemary, hardly ever smiles, a reflection of toll raising her siblings while her father searches for work to feed his family has taken. Essential nutrients will not solve every problem and yet they would be a step in the right direction towards assuring healthy outcomes for mothers and babies.
These individuals face many challenges in achieving health, obtaining the nutrition they need, and finding the medical care that can be a matter of survival. We talked with Fatima about ways to expand our program and continuing reaching those no one else is reaching. We know these children need so much and also know the vitamin A is a really good and important start.
all that is possible - notes from the field, Bolivia
Lloyda, one of the health care workers with World Concern (our partner in Bolivia) arrived on a motorcycle about 15 minutes after we turned off the road on the way to our first stop in Cordillera. We were on the way to El Puente which would be our base while we were in Bolivia, about a 5 hour car ride on a two lane road from Santa Cruz. It turns out that motorcycles are the best form of transportation for the health care workers traveling to some of the most remote rural villages, as they are much easier to navigate around the endless potholes that polka dot every road we’ve seen.
On arriving in Cordillera, Fatima (World Concern’s Country Director) and Felicidad (a Program Director), immediately organized the women and children and began with an education session about vitamin A and parasites. The distribution reaches about 90 children from this small community. The need is immediately apparent. Most of the children have some combination of running noses, hacking coughs, skin problems and faded brittle hair, all confirmation of World Health Organization’s statistics of vitamin A deficiency (22%), anemia (52%) and chronic malnutrition for Bolivia’s poor (55% live in extreme poverty). Cordillera, like most of the villages we will visit has so little; no running water, no electricity, no secure food supply, no regular medical help. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America, with one of the lowest life expectancies, and the people in communities like this one face myriad of challenges.
It is wonderful watching Lloyda talk with these people in Guarani (the local dialect) and make sure that all of the women in the village know we are here. You can see that her regular visits have built up a level of trust with the people. I think about Lloyda’s story which Fatima told me earlier; how she grew up in one of these poor rural villages and first met World Concern at age twelve, when they came to her community ten years ago. I can imagine a young girl like the children we are meeting today, watching and wondering who these people are. A few years later, Lloyda’s parents who valued education (rare for many of Bolivia’s indigenous people) approached World Concern for help so Lloyda could continue her education. The national office arranged for a scholarship. Then a couple of years ago, when Fatima asked the University for a candidate for a health care worker position they were developing, she was pleasantly surprised when Lloyda was the student they recommended. Watching Lloyda is a great way to begin the trip and reflect on all that is possible with the next generation of children whose lives we touch today.
Over $250,000 raised for VA at Charity Golf Tourney
The VA team would like to send out a big heartfelt thank you to the Vitamin Shoppe, Nature’s Value and the participants of the Charity Golf Outing held this past weekend at the Crystal Springs Resort in Hardyston, New Jersey. The event raised nearly $250,000 for Vitamin Angels! These funds will ensure that an additional 1 million children receive the vital nutrients they need to grow up to lead healthy and productive lives.
From the blog of one of Vitamin Angels' partners in Haiti, Love A Child:
A very big thank you to those at Vitamin Angels who have partnered with us to make this vaccination program a great success. With the Vitamin A and Albendazole you have provided, we will reach many children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to receive it. The year-long partnership of Love A Child and Vitamin Angels made this great vision a reality.
Every day we have given vitamin A, Albendazole [antiparasitic] and vaccinated children and pregnant women, some in our clinic, and some through our Health nurses as they walk or take donkeys or whatever is needed to reach these children.
We are very fortunate to be able to provide Vitamin A and Albendazole to the children to complement our vaccination program. Vitamin A, essential for normal growth and development, is given to all children when they are entered in the vaccination program.
The Minister of Health has chosen Love A Child as the Center for Vaccination in the "Ouest" Zone of Haiti where Love A Child Village and our project villages are located. In our first three months of the vaccination program we vaccinated 592 women ages 15-49 and 650 children through age five. We have accepted a large task and will see it and the protection it provides grow rapidly.
Arenise, our Social Worker/RN, welcomed in the International Week of Vaccination with the International Committee and spent time training health workers so they can vaccinate women and children in very remote areas.
Love A Child partnering with Vitamin Angels means our health workers will provide vaccinations to all the children in this zone of Haiti including the VERY remote mountain areas where there are no medical clinics. Thank you, Vitamin Angels! We couldn't do this without you!
Through field partners like Love a Child, Vitamin Angels reaches over 1.2 million children in Haiti with vitamin A. To support our Operation 2020 vitamin A program in Haiti and worldwide, you can donate here>>.
Earlier this month we celebrated mothers worldwide for Mother’s Day by raising money to provide new and expecting moms with the prenatal nutrition they need during this special time in their and their child’s life.
Mother’s Day has past, but thanks to the help of some of our partners we’ve been celebrating moms all month long. If you haven’t participated in these opportunities yet, now is the time!
Bellybar is donating one bottle of prenatal chewable vitamins to Vitamin Angels for every bottle purchased on their website. With each bottle, Vitamin Angels will reach a mother and her baby to strengthen their health and give them the foundation for a healthy life.
Study shows maternal Vitamin A improves offspring's lung function
A new study from scientists at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that deficiency of Vitamin A in the mother's body may affect the lung function in the child.
"Children of mothers who received vitamin A supplementation before, during and after pregnancy had significantly improved lung function when compared to those whose mothers received beta-carotene supplementation or placebo," said lead author of the study, William Checkley, MD, PhD. Checkly went on to say that "early interventions involving vitamin A supplementation in communities where undernutrition is highly prevalent may have long-lasting consequences for lung health.”
All kids ages 3-5 in Lao province to receive daily multivitamins
Vitamin Angels is excited to announce the launch of our new Thrive to Five project in Laos! With our field partners Give Children A Choice (GCAC), Vitamin Angels will be reaching 24,000 children in the Xieng Khuang province. Every preschool child in the province between ages 3-5 will be able to take one daily multivitamin for a year!
A ceremony to present the donation was held on May 11 at the Xieng Khuang provincial Health Department. The vitamins were presented by GCAC founder Dori Shimoda and Barbara Shimoda, who heads up GCAC's health programs, to the Deputy Director of the Xieng Khuang Health Department, Dr. Vinyanh Cheryangsaijou. Over 3 million multivitamin tablets were presented, and 9 million more will be delivered later this summer. Dr. Vinyanh expressed his thanks to GCAC for their support- “This will be a valuable gift for children in Xieng Khuang so they can receive essential micronutrients.”
GCAC founder Shimoda committed himself to helping preschool children in Laos nine years ago. “I saw too many children doing very little, just playing dragging a stick in the dirt. There were too many elementary schoolgirls carrying their preschool siblings on their back while school was in session. They told me they were sad about missing school. I believe that preschools nurture a child's physical and mental development during the most critical, formative, first six years of their lives”. Shimonda thanked Vitamin Angels for providing the micronutrients to build the children’s health during their formative years. “We hope that our efforts will help reduce the malnutrition levels of children and assist in achieving Millennium Development Goals.”
With the help of the Mollomarco Health Clinic in Peru, Vitamin Angels provided twelve children with a year’s supply of multivitamins to build their health and provide them with the necessary nutrition for their developing bodies and minds. Vitamin Angels will also reach 1,000 children with vitamin A through the clinic later this year. The clinic serves the community of Mollomarco, Peru.
Nominate a new/expecting mother you know to win a green Baby Gift Basket
As a part of our efforts to celebrate mothers worldwide this Mother's Day, we're giving away a baby gift basket, complete with all the things mom needs to raise their baby in a green world! Tell us about a new or expecting mother that you know and why she deserves this gift. We'll choose one lucky new mom to receive the basket the Monday after Mother's Day! Your entry must be written in response to THIS NOTE ON FACEBOOK and must be received by 11:59pm on Sunday, May 9th. Responses left on this blog post will not count.
Check out what's inside the basket:
Baby Spa tub
Kee-Ka organic baby socks
Babysoy soybean top
Boon baby food dispensing spoon (bpa free)
Moby Wrap swaddle blanket and beanie
Green to Grow bottle (bpa free)
the book "Raising Baby Green" by Dr. Alan Greene
Under the Nile organic cotton toy
Pre/Post natal vitamins from Dr. Greene and ISI Brands
*thank you to all of our baby gift product donors!
Mothers Club Yields Increase In Hospital Delivery Rates
USAID released an encouraging article in February explaining how health workers in Kenya’s Nyanza Province were able to double the hospital delivery rate to 60 percent. Jane Owaka, chief nursing officer at the Kendu Bay Sub-district Hospital, helped create the hospitals new “Mother club,” which recruits women attending the hospital’s prenatal clinic. Members are asked to “deliver their next child at the hospital, meet in a group twice a month to receive health education, including safe motherhood practice,” and even to educate other women in their village about safe practices and the risks of delivering at home. Funding for the program came from the community and pays mothers a small stipend to pay for their travel to and from the hospital, as well as for amenities like warm water and hot tea after birth.
Women who deliver their babies at home have a greater risk of facing complications and infections. Their babies are less likely to be fully vaccinated. Owaka said that since the creation of the Mothers Club, more mothers are having safe deliveries, babies are healthier, and there is an increase in infant immunizations. There are now more than 40 club members.
A big thank you to everyone who participated in our World Health Day blog contest. We asked our supporters to answer “Why is Vitamin Angels’ mission is important to you?” and we loved reading your answers. It’s inspiring to see what rallies us together behind Vitamin Angels’ work.
It was a close race, but here your winning answer. Anna’s insight about maternal and child nutrition leading to a better future for all of us inspired the VA staff.
Better future for all of us by Anna
One of the kids that survives because of Vitamin Angel's nutrition program is going to force a breakthrough in HIV research. Dozens if not hundreds will become teachers and educate the next generation. One of them might marry one of my children if I ever get around to having any.
Yes, I'd say that Vitamin Angels is pretty relevant to my life.
Unfortunately, we dropped the ball and due to an unfortunate mix up, we were unable to capture Anna's email to talk to her about her free VA shirt. Anna, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to get you your shirt!
Vitamin A and antiparastics reach children in Pestel, Haiti
Vitamin Angels is partnering with the Penn State University College of Medicine (PSU-COM) to bring vitamin A and antiparasitics to the children of Haiti. In the past three weeks, 2,800 children have been reached in the region of Pestel, where PSU-COM is working the regional health director (the only physician in the area) and another local development group. In total, 35,000 children will be reached with vitamin A by the group in Haiti.
Dr. Ben Frederick of PSU-COM posted a blog update on the Child Health Campaign in Pestel, and we are happy to share that the supplements provided are having a profound effect on the health and lives of the children and families in the area.
“The workers are finding a lot of malnutrition, and we'll be able to report exact numbers from their data. Also, the deworming (anti-parasite) medication is a big hit! The parents are thrilled to see the dead worms after the medication is given! One kid had about 60 worms!And another kid had over 100 worms (they counted them!).
This is going to lead to BIG improvements in their growth and health. We'll measure the kids again later this year to see what kind of growth improvements occurred as a result of this. We received the donations from a very generous organization called Vitamin Angels. They have been fantastic to work with. For places like Pestel these kinds of programs accomplish a great deal for very little money, as you know. You can imagine that the villages are likely to be even more receptive to the campaign when we run it again at the end of this year because of how these seen the tangible results of the medication working. That'll allow us to build on this success and make strides in educational initiatives, for example.”
In addition, the video below, taken early March, tells a bit of the story of how the earthquake has affected the rural area of Pestel, Haiti and how PSU-COM has begun to address the pressing health needs there.
You can also visit our Operation 20/20 page to see where else Vitamin Angels is working in Haiti and around the world.