Texture is often the primary reason we choose or refuse foods. We may crave the way something feels in our mouth and, though we like the taste, it’s not our primary reason for wanting it. Or we hate the way something feels in our mouths and even if we loved the taste we still wouldn’t put it in our mouths because of it’s texture. Kids are the same way. We want them to taste foods to see if they like them, but during those tastes kids are also deciding if they like the way the food feels and that may be their primary reason for choosing or refusing it when they see it again.
As our feeding skills develop we develop food preferences based on how they taste, feel and break apart in our mouths. So, even if you’ve never thought of it, your child probably already has texture preferences!
(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)
The daughter of a dear friend of mine, Abbey Kochert, and her colleague Shelbie Moser are on a cross-country trek and stopped by our home last week. They have signed-on for an incredibly important task… they are Road Warriors for theThirst Project.
Thirst Project is an international organization whose mission is to “build a socially-conscious generation of young people who END the global water crisis.” Thirst Project captured my attention because of the organization’s genuine interest in saving children and notes, “Small children typically do not have strong enough immune systems to fight diseases like cholera, dysentery, or schistosomiasis.”
Abbey shared a fact that literally stopped me in my tracks: “Waterborne diseases kill more children than anything else in the world – 4,100 children will die today due to diarrhea and dysentery alone.”
As guests in a special BeAKidsHero podcast, Shelbie shared, “That’s like a jumbo jet crashing every hour-and-a-half each day! Yet it doesn’t even get two minutes of CNN’s nightly air time.”
She’s right. Which is exactly why Thirst Project, the largest youth organization working to end the global water crisis, is working diligently to save children born in areas where they simply don’t have access to clean drinking water.
Abbey shares, “Children between the ages of eight and 13 are tasked with walking, on average, three to four miles, every day just to collect contaminated water. Imagine a muddy rain puddle. Now, let’s add some parasites, leeches, mosquito larvae, and animal feces. This only scratches the surface. Children in developing communities fetch this water using jerrycans; a five gallon gas can, which weighs 44 pounds when full; however, children normally carry two at a time. Work, like most, takes these children six to eight hours everyday. Therefore, children are not able to go to school and get an education because work takes precedence.”
I listened to their presentation as they spoke to Mrs. Broge’s Choralaires class at Zionsville Community High School, but literally choked back tears as Abbey shared the story of this little four-year old boy whose photo was snapped by a Thirst Project team visiting the South African country of Swaziland following the gruesome removal of a 3-foot Guinea worm in his body. These horrid parasites are microscopic when first ingested via contaminated drinking water, but then nest in a limb (arm or leg) until they mature. People infected with these monster worms don’t have access to medical care, so the worms are removed by either slicing them off, a bit at a time, or through an incision whereby the worm is stabbed with a hot poker, wrapped around that poker and tugged out of it’s hosts’ body… in this case, the body of the sweet four-year old boy who I can only imagine couldn’t grasp the horror he saw as a long monster, nearly as tall as he is, was stripped from one of his limbs.
Thirst Project notes that, “Waterborne diseases kill more children every single year than AIDS, Malaria, and all world violence combined.” They also share a graphic that illustrates the physical impact on both children and adults of drinking contaminated water.
BTW, did you know that the average American uses 150 gallons of fresh water per day? People in countries like Swaziland have access to only 5 gallons of water a day… if they have fresh water access at all.
The Good News
…is that Thirst Project is making a measurable difference in the lives of children and families around the world! Just seven years ago, nearly 1.1 billion people around the world had NO access to clean drinking water. Thanks to efforts from organizations like Thirst Project, that number has dropped to 66.3 million. While much has been done, much more is left to do.
(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)
Public servant: A person in local, state or national government who performs duties for the public. When did this stop becoming true of politicians?
The answer may lie in their obscenely large paypackets forked out by the New Zealand taxpayer. It is a commonly repeated mantra of both those inside the chambers, and by taxpayers on the outside, that the parliamentarians residing inside the marble walls of parliament house are employed by the people through the pleasant system of democracy. If this were the case, if the role of a parliamentarian was a humble service to one’s country and one’s constituency, as opposed to one’s party and self interests, would it really be expected of MPs to take home their pay? Or, at the very least, their still annually increasing pay increases?
The current pay rate a backbench MP (including lowly ranked members of the party list of all parties) takes home is a stunningly hefty $156,000 per year with an annual pay increase of $8,200. The mere thought of how much New Zealand’s career politicians of more than thirty years must have soaked up in their decades on the leather couches doesn’t bare considering if you’d like to avoid watering of the eyes. It’s considerate to mention, however, that some MPs do the honourable thing and donate their money to the many New Zealand charities in need.Prime Minister John Key is among the few who have openly claimed this as fact, although this statement has never really been assessed on a bipartisan level and thus cannot be truly confirmed nor denied. What cannot be denied is that the Prime Minister, with his $428,000/annum salary should be donating to charities – which, if true, would account for nearly three million bucks over his (to date) seven year period in office funneled into various charities.
The average New Zealander, meanwhile, collects $45,800 (Statistics New Zealand) over the course of a year. The people supposedly working and serving for them earn $110,000 in excess to that.
(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)
The number of Kiwi children in relative poverty has jumped over 300,000 for the first time since 2010 – but it’s because of record inequality, despite falling absolute hardship.
The Ministry of Social Development’s annual household incomes report shows that the numbers below a European standard measure of absolute hardship, based on measures such as not having a warm home or two pairs of shoes, fell from 165,000 in 2013 to 145,000 (8 per cent of all children) last year, the lowest number since 2007.
Children in benefit-dependent families also dwindled from a recent peak of 235,000 (22 per cent) in 2011, and 202,000 (19 per cent) in 2013, to just 180,000 (17 per cent) last year – the lowest proportion of children living on benefits since the late 1980s.
But inequality worsened because average incomes for working families increased much faster at high and middle-income levels than for lower-paid workers.
The net result was that the number of children living in households earning below 60 per cent of the median income after housing costs jumped from a five-year low of 260,000 in 2013 to 305,000 last year, the highest since a peak of 315,000 at the worst point of the global financial crisis in 2010.
In percentage terms, 29 per cent of Kiwi children are now in relative poverty, up from 24 per cent in 2013 and only a fraction below the 2010 peak of 30 per cent.
Unicef national advocacy manager Deborah Morris-Travers said the increase showed that the Government’s reliance on economic growth as the way out of poverty “does nothing for those on benefits and on very low fixed incomes”.
Review by Sarah Wilson
Read about how Hagar International transforms the lives of children rescued from trafficking.
“You need a class to tell you how to feed your baby?” my dad laughed down the line to London, where I live. I was en route to a workshop on introducing my six-month-old daughter to solid food and was hoping to find clarity on which approach to use: traditional purées or this thing called “baby-led weaning” I’d heard English moms chatting about. Some swore by it, but others derided it as just another silly offshoot of bohemian urban parenting. It was like breast versus bottle 2.0, and I wanted to know more.
Search American parenting sites for “baby-led weaning” and most of what you’ll find is advice on ending breastfeeding when the child chooses. But here in Britain, the term commonly means letting babies feed themselves from their very first mouthful of solid food at six months. No runny rice cereal, no applesauce, no airplane spoon games. Instead they start exclusively on easy-to-grab finger foods like steamed carrot sticks, hunks of banana, and even skinless chicken drumsticks, then progress at their own pace to more complex dishes. They share in family mealtimes and in the process, the theory goes, become more adventurous eaters comfortable with a variety of tastes and textures while acquiring a natural feel for portion control. It’s a method some American mothers use as well, but here, it’s a trend considered worthy of fierce debate.
(To read more, follow the link below…)
None of us choose where we are born or what circumstances we are born into. That’s why for me, sponsoring a child is not just an enriching experience in itself– which it most definitely is– but it is also about redressing the huge disparity that exists within our global family between the “haves” and the “have nots”. And the “have nots” in our world lack some very basic and fundamental necessities.
Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. That is 8,500 children per day. That means every 10 seconds, one of our children dies from hunger-related diseases. (Source: http://thp.org/knowledge-center/know-your-world-facts-about-hunger-poverty/). And I do view it that “we are all one” and all children are “our children”. If it is possible then, to make a positive difference in the life of even just one child– a difference which will be carried on into the future, as that child raises his or her own children, as well as a difference which permeates the lives of others in the community surrounding that child, why wouldn’t we? Wouldn’t we hope for the same kind of assistance in gaining independence and being able to sustain ourselves and our families if the shoe was on the other foot? ChildFund provides the perfect vehicle for doing this in a way in which promotes independence and ensures that sponsor money goes directly to projects assisting the child in question and his or her community.
My husband and I have four children and our goal was always to sponsor four kids of similar ages to ours, in four different parts of the world. When our eldest son, now nearly ten, was born, we began sponsoring Hirpa, a boy the same age who lives in Ethiopia. We then found that our finances would not stretch to sponsoring three more children, but have instead taken on one more: Tham, a five year old girl in Vietnam. Sponsoring a child in Vietnam was important to me, as I spent three years living and working there and was treated well by Vietnamese people. I also learned the Vietnamese language while there, so can communicate with Tham and her family in their mother tongue (although our kids write to her in English, which is translated by ChildFund in Vietnam).
Sponsoring Hirpa and Tham has been a really good experience for our four children here in New Zealand. We have tried to write to them as regularly as we are able and the kids like to draw pictures for them and ask them about their countries, cultures and families. Around the world there are commonalities of childhood which transcend the barriers of language, race and distance. Hirpa has three siblings and likes playing soccer with his friends. Tham paints pictures at her kindergarten (some of which she has sent to us) : these are the kinds of things our children can readily relate to and enjoy doing too.
In part because of my own experiences working abroad and travelling, I believe that forming friendships and links with individuals is important in helping our children become “global citizens” and developing a notion of the world as their “global family”. Through technology, our world is becoming smaller and smaller. I believe there are ways in which we can improve our world for future generations. Instilling our children with a “global view” of life and an understanding of how their peers around the world live, why there are inequalities (both at home and abroad) and the human side of our history and our present is integral to achieving this (as is having faith that such improvement is possible). Although young, our four children realise, through my stories of experiences overseas and through their contact with Hirpa and Tham, that poverty effects individuals, including kids like themselves. Hirpa and Tham and their familes are kind of honourary members of our family: whenever we receive new pictures of them we put them up for a while in our lounge and talk about how they are doing. I believe that this has instilled a level of emotional intelligence and global awareness in our kids.
We enjoy hearing about the special festivals and cultural events in Hirpa and Tham’s lives which are so very different from our own. Tham’s family are rice farmers, while Hirpa’s herd cattle. Both children have to take an active part in helping their parents with these occupations.
I remember, some years back, when Hirpa (perhaps age three or so) was really ill and had to be taken to hospital. His medical care was covered through our sponsorship of him with ChildFund. My eldest son was most concerned and drew pictures for Hirpa and we prayed for him and his family together. We often remember Hirpa and Tham in our prayers. Fortunately, Hirpa came through his illness.
I know there are people out there who don’t agree with the idea of child sponsorship and I honestly can’t understand why. During my time living in Vietnam, I worked for another child sponsorship organisation, Plan International. Through this I saw first hand the difference that having a one on one sponsor made to the lives of children in the poorer communities. Just the psychology behind knowing that someone in a completely different country and culture, who has never met you, is prepared to offer support of this nature has been shown to be a tremendous source of encouragement to sponsored children. Letters, photographs and gifts received by children are often treasured for a lifetime. Sometimes a sponsor will visit a child, which always creates great excitement in the whole community. Putting an individual face to a situation (rather than just a label, such as “poverty in Africa/ Asia”) goes a long way towards making people care. And, in my experience, when people care enough, good things start happening.
ChildFund was founded on October 6, 1938 as China’s Children Fund by an American Presbyterian minister Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke to aid Chinese children displaced by the Second Sino-Japanese War. As the mission expanded to other countries, the name was changed on February 6, 1951 to Christian Children’s Fund. ChildFund International changed its name in 2009 but ChildFund New Zealand changed its name in 2005. The name change came about because ChildFund was never a Christian mission organisation and didn’t evangelise. However, because of the name, people wrongly believed that’s what we did. Rather our organisation’s purpose was based on the Christian values of its founder. A decision was made very early on to not proselytise, so as to be accepted in any community where children needed our help. [Source: Wikipedia and ChildFund New Zealand].
Why our family likes ChildFund in Particular
There are a number of excellent child sponsorship organisations out there. We like ChildFund because it is a strong, international organisation which has been assisting children in poverty and their communities for over 75 years. Sponsoring children in 30 countries and reaching 18.1 million kids and their family members, ChildFund works in places where poverty’ s grasp is strongest. ChildFund has a history of reliably making sure that the maximum possible amount of sponsor’s funds goes to the children, their families and their communities.
Personally, as a busy Mum with four active children, I like that ChildFund makes it easy for us to sponsor Hirpa in Ethiopia and Tham in Vietnam. Not only are we sent regular reminders of things like birthdays, but are also given cards to sign and freepost envelopes to return them in, making it easy for us to maintain regular contact with the kids we sponsor, particularly at times when it is important. I also like that ChildFund send us regular progress reports about how our sponsored children are doing, as well as up to date photos. This helps maintain the connection from both sides, as well as showing us how the children’s lives are being improved through their sponsorship. It is easy to call ChildFund at any time, should concerns or questions arise, and I have found them to be efficient, professional and always willing to put the needs of the children first.
Some ideas which might be helpful when sponsoring a child…
* Try to write to your sponsored child regularly: they LOVE to hear from you. Letters don’t necessarily need to be long and, as the old saying goes, “a picture speaks a thousand words”: so a brief note and a photograph of you and your family will always be treasured. People have busy lives, but I’ve found it’s possible to write to our sponsored children 3-4 times a year. As I’ve said above, ChildFund are great at providing cards and so on to send too.
* If you feel you can’t afford to sponsor a child, there are other options, such as joining with other families or friends and sharing sponsorship. Some schools, kindergartens, churches and offices also sponsor kids. It is good for the sponsor child to know the names of one or two individuals among a group of sponsors and, of course, receive letters and pictures (see above).
* If you begin sponsoring a child and your circumstances change to a point where you feel you can’t continue, don’t feel bad. Do explain to your child what is happening and perhaps look for other individuals or groups who might be willing to sponsor him or her. Having said this, I know a number of people who have continued sponsoring children, despite tough times in their own lives, including some of those who lived through the Christchurch earthquakes: some people find continuing sponsorship in tough times a motivating and strengthening experience– it has to be your call.
* Some people like to send their sponsored child a gift from time to time. Gifts needn’t be particularly expensive and large, costly items (aside from being expensive to post) can cause jealousy and disharmony within your sponsor child’s family and community. There are lots of small light-weight items which will be really appreciated by your sponsored child. These include: t-shirts, shorts, undies, toy cars, hair clips, hair ties, notebooks, pens, stickers, balloons, small soft toys and light weight story or colouring books, coloured pencils or crayons (wax crayons seem to be more durable than oil ones), pens or pencils (if sending any kind of pencil, don’t forget a sharpener and rubber). Keep in mind your sponsored child’s mother tongue if sending story books. We have sent some to Tham translated into Vietnamese or you can send very simple ones with more pictures and few words: they will still enjoy looking at them and can write the words in in their own language. If your sponsored child has siblings (as in the case of Hirpa, the boy we sponsor in Ethipoia) learn their names too and send a small gift for them also. Items such as hard soap, facecloths, pencil cases, foldable, light cloth bags and toothbrushes also go down well. Don’t send anything which might melt, leak or break– things such as toothpaste, shampoo, playdough and bubble mixture are best avoided.
Two Short Videos about ChildFund: