Category Archives: Afghanistan

A New Friendship Train to Fight Global Hunger

When hunger ravaged Europe after World War II how did Americans respond? They started a Friendship Train to feed the hungry and help win the peace after the war.

Let’s start a New Friendship Train today to reach the hungry overseas starting first with East Africa which is suffering from famine and a severe drought. Then the train will move to provide relief to drought afflicted Afghanistan. Yemen, Haiti, the Ivory Coast and many other countries also need support.

Start the New Friendship Train. You can donate at these aid agencies……

First Destination: East Africa…To Feed the Hungry and Malnourished…..

Train images courtesy of Shortlines of Chicago Historical Society. Crossing lights image courtesy of Amazing Animations.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, global hunger, History, malnutrition, plumpy'nut, Save the Children, School feeding, Somalia, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, UNICEF, World Food Programme, World Vision

The Roadmap to End Global Hunger

During 2009 the global hunger crisis escalated with the number of people suffering from hunger climbing over one billion. This great humanitarian crisis calls for action on the part of world leaders. In countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Sudan hunger threatens hopes for peace. This book includes press releases, interviews and perspective on The Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation in Congress. This bill (H.R. 2817) was introduced during 2009 by U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.). The legislation is based on the recommendations made by groups such as Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, Friends of the World Food Program, World Vision and others. Inside you will hear from offiicials from these organizations as they discuss the Roadmap and its importance in fighting hunger. Also you will see how you can get involved to support the Roadmap to End Global Hunger. Also included in the book is a special historical perspective section on Fighting Hunger and World War II.

The Roadmap to End Global Hunger is available from:

Google Ebookstore

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Filed under Afghanistan, Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, global hunger, History, Ivory Coast, Kenya, malnutrition, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, School feeding, Somalia, Sudan, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, West Africa, World Food Programme, World Vision, World War II, Yemen

Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World

The book Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World features over 50 interviews with officials from the United Nations World Food Programme, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, the Barefoot Foundation and ChildsLife International. Each interview shows the status of these critical child feeding programs and the potential for expanding them to achieve universal school feeding. The interviews also focus on the impact school meals have for children in developing countries as well as how people can help these programs. Some of the countries profiled are Afghanistan, Sudan, Colombia, Somalia and Pakistan. The interviews published in the book originally appeared online at Blogcritics magazine. The interviews were arranged by William Lambers in conjunction with the UN World Food Programme office in Washington DC.

Ending World Hunger is available at:

Google Ebookstore

Barnes and Noble

View the short film Ending Child Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World from William Lambers on Vimeo.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Books, Catholic Relief Services, East Africa, Ivory Coast, Kenya, malnutrition, School feeding, Somalia, Sudan, West Africa, World Food Programme, World Vision, Yemen

Ending Hunger: When You Feed a Child You Feed the Future

U.S. Air Force plane dropping food into the Nazi-occupied Netherlands in 1945 (National Archives)

U.S. Air Force plane dropping food into the Nazi-occupied Netherlands in 1945 (National Archives)

In May 2010, I published an article about the historical airlift of food into the Nazi-occupied Netherlands at the end of World War II. Truck convoys of food for the hungry followed these missions which continued throughout the liberation.

Think of what the food meant to each individual child: an opportunity — a future. Take, as an example, one young girl living in the Netherlands at that time. Many children of her generation were lost because of the war and the food shortages that came with it. In the case of the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, this became a tragedy known as the hunger winter of 1944-1945.

This girl was one of those suffering from malnutrition as the war was drawing to an end. Fortunately, she and many others would benefit from the food brought in by the Allies. Subsequent to this relief would come aid from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA).

The young girl, upon growing up, said, “A child is a child in any country, whatever the politics… there is no complicated diplomacy, when a child is starving. It’s simple. And we better do something about it. For our sakes too. That is if we want to continue to call ourselves human.”

Her name was Audrey Hepburn. The food made a great difference in her life, an example of the magic that can happen when a child is fed. Hepburn, late in her life, worked as an ambassador for UNICEF. This organization was created in the aftermath of World War II because of the crisis facing so many children. The Marshall Plan is known as the reconstruction of Europe. Well, UNICEF was a Marshall Plan for the rehabilitation of children after the war, and forever changed those war-devastated countries.

There is a whole generation of children today who deserve the same opportunity to find what treasures they possess. Today, the cries of children are coming from East Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, Haiti, Sudan, Afghanistan, and many other countries. This is why it is so imperative that universal child feeding programs be developed through an international alliance.

The goal would be for each country to have a self -sufficient national school meal and infant feeding program. No single initiative could do more to save lives, prevent disease, and build peace in today’s world.

A whole generation could be fed for a relatively minimal cost. A whole generation could write the history of their country through educational achievement, progress, and development, all because we decided today their bodies and minds should be fed.

Article originally published as When You Feed A Child You Feed the Future at Blogcritics

A message from UNICEF:
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Audrey Hepburn holds a severely malnourished child at a UNICEF-assisted feeding centre in Baidoa. “For many it’s too late, but for many, many more we can still be on time,” said Ms. Hepburn, after witnessing the impact of famine on Somalia’s children in 1992.Nineteen years later, famine is again spreading, and over a million children urgently require aid.The Horn of Africa’s children need our help. You can join UNICEF’s effort by visiting Horn of Africa Crisis Page.

You can receive more UNICEF photos from the Horn of Africa on your iPhone by visiting:​​​​ography

(photos courtesy of UNICEF)

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Filed under Afghanistan, drought, East Africa, History, School feeding, UNICEF, World War II

Interview: Catholic Relief Services in Afghanistan

CRS distributes lambs to impoverished farmers and trains them to care for their animals. Photo: Laura Sheahen/CRS Read more:

Afghans face a daily struggle against poverty. The basics of food, water, medicine, education and shelter are hard to reach for millions in the country. It is the war against poverty in Afghanistan which is often overlooked.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is trying to make a difference and help lift Afghans out of the poverty trap. Laura Sheahen, CRS Asia information officer, helped coordinate the following interview with the CRS Afghanistan team. They offer a look inside daily life in Afghanistan.

Tell us about some of the families you met in Afghanistan and the struggles they face.

CRS sees all kinds of families really struggling just to stay warm and fed in winter, and to grow food in the summer. The weather can be quite extreme and finding water is often an issue. Afghans also struggle to get to market-either to buy or sell food-given the road system, which is bumpy and rocky at the best of times. In some areas, roads are often completely impassable during the long, snowy winters. So just getting staple foods is a huge challenge, as is getting medical care.

What effect has the increase in food prices in Afghanistan had on the communities there?

When families can’t afford food, what happens in rural areas is that they sell livestock, which is basically their insurance policy against even bigger disasters. If they sell their goat to buy flour, for example, they have nothing to sell when they need money for an urgent trip to the far-off hospital. And, of course, some families with nothing to sell are simply going hungry.

Malnutrition is a problem for at least a third of children in Afghanistan, according to World Health Organization statistics.

In some areas, needy families are sending their teenage or young adult sons to places like Iran and Pakistan to work, which is not something they want to do.

What are some programs CRS is running to help tackle poverty in Afghanistan?

Since water is such an issue, CRS helps farmers improve irrigation systems, dig canals, and so forth. CRS also builds water systems so that remote villages have tapstands. CRS links farmers to local markets and businesses, teaching them how to grow, transport, and sell produce effectively. For example, we taught farmers how to grow strawberries under plastic-tarp greenhouses in winter. They get a high price for their berries in spring.

CRS organizes groups of women and give them the basics they need to start small businesses, like baking snacks or sewing curtains. So for the bakery we’d build them a special clay oven and give them a stock of flour to start with, for example. When women can make a little money, it helps the whole household.

What are the great challenges in terms of education for Afghan children?

After decades of war and the repressive rule of the Taliban, Afghanistan’s education system has been left without an adequate number of schools and qualified teachers. Literacy levels in Afghanistan are extremely low, with only 28% of the overall population estimated to be literate–meaning that finding teachers can be extremely difficult, especially in the most remote and rural parts of the country.

Distance is a huge factor. Out on the plains of Afghanistan, or in the mountains, people might live dozens of miles away from any town, much less a public school.

In some cases families are concerned about their daughters going to school. It’s not just a cultural issue-they could be worried about their daughter’s safety as she walks 4 miles of uninhabited territory to get to school.

What is CRS doing to help improve the education system for Afghans?

CRS works with villages to create schools, especially in remote areas where girls cannot easily reach public schools. CRS trains the teachers, provides the books and supplies, and does whatever it takes to get a school going.

To start a school, CRS meets with parents and community members to discuss their interest in education. Community members then commit to providing a space for a classroom– typically a room in a villager’s house–and help identify a teacher.

CRS also provides a class kit (e.g., blackboard, chalk, water cooler), a student kit (e.g., notebooks, textbooks, pencils) and a teacher kit (lesson plan book, pens, etc). We also work with the Ministry of Education to receive government textbooks and use this government curriculum.

By creating the village schools close to home, and by talking with mothers and fathers, we get community buy-in and support. It’s a large factor in overcoming the barrier of distance which ensures that girls can attend.

That’s one reason we think we have so many girls studying in CRS-created schools. We always talk everything through with the villagers and discuss their concerns.

The teacher training we provide is really key. Teachers learn to teach using interactive methods, instead of asking children to do rote memorization. Teachers learn how to prepare lesson plans and learn basic classroom management. We offer a series of workshops to build their teaching skills, especially for reading and math. CRS staff visit the teachers on a regular basis to follow up and ensure that teachers are able to apply these new teaching methods in the classroom.

We provide textbooks and supplies like a blackboard and chalk. The schools would founder without some of these basic materials, due to cost and due to the distance villagers would have to go to get the materials.

Another thing that’s making a huge difference is our “box of books” library system. Basically, we give each school we create a metal lockbox full of several dozen educational books-stories about animals, for example.

The children treat these books like gold. They borrow them from the box and read them to their families at home.

CRS helps form Parent-Teacher Associations which monitor the class to make certain it has the necessary supplies and to check on teacher and student attendance.

With this strong focus on community participation and quality of education, CRS has made education available to 13,500 children (64% girls) in 340 communities in remote and rural areas of Afghanistan. We’ve also supported over 700 teachers with training and mentoring services.

Because we work closely with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education, we’ve ensured that children enrolled in our schools are recognized as part of the formal government system.

How can someone get involved with the work of CRS in Afghanistan?

You can learn more, or donate, at Catholic Relief Services

Article first published as Interview: Catholic Relief Services in Afghanistan on Blogcritics.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Catholic Relief Services