Tackling Malnutrition in Vulnerable Communities Around the World


Buddhist Global Relief was founded by a group of Buddhists and friends of Buddhism intent on giving concrete expression to the Buddhist values of loving-kindness and compassion. BGR’s mission is to assist communities around the world struggling against the life-depleting challenges of chronic hunger and malnutrition. BGR operates by establishing partnerships with organizations working on the ground in the affected regions. The partner reports on the project’s progress at six-month intervals or annually for multi-year projects.

BGR currently is working with  20 projects. Some were extensions of multi-year projects already underway. Some were new projects with trusted, long-term partners. As in the past, BGR is deeply grateful to the Beyond Belief Foundation for their consistent and generous support. Below are summaries of several new and recent projects presently being implemented.

Improving Nutrition among Children in Cote d’Ivoire
This project with Helen Keller International (HKI), a long-time BGR partner, aims to improve nutrition for pregnant women, infants, and children in the Korhogo District of Cote d’Ivoire. The project will be funded in its entirety by BGR. Cote d’Ivoire ranks 172 out of 188 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index, making it among the poorest countries in the world. Estimated child mortality under five years is 195 per 1,000 live births and life expectancy is just 54 years. Malnutrition, including vitamin and micro-nutrient deficiencies, is a major contributing factor to the high rate of infant mortality. Chronic malnutrition affects about 33% of children under five years.

The project will implement a program among young girls and women in Korhogo Health District over the next three years. Korhogo, located in the underserved Poro Region in northern Cote d’Ivoire, has 77 health clinics that serve a target population of around 760,000. HKI will use the Essential Nutrition Actions (ENA) framework to reach mothers at the right time with the right message. The ENA framework promotes optimal nutrition practices, including women’s nutrition, breastfeeding, complementary feeding, feeding the sick child, vitamin A, and the integrated control of anemia, vitamin A and iodine deficiency.

This project’s primary goal is to decrease the incidence of malnutrition in children during their first 1,000 days of life by training health workers in ENA in the Korhogo District. Trained health workers will, in turn, deliver messages and training to expectant mothers at all 77 health clinics in the health district. This will take place over the course of three years. By the end of this project, an estimated 77,000 children and their mothers will have been reached.

Breakfasts for Hungry School Children in Jamaica and Haiti
The Trees That Feed Foundation, a U.S.-registered nonprofit based in Chicago, is dedicated to planting trees to feed people, create jobs, and benefit the environment. Its focus is on planting trees in school gardens in low-income countries with food shortages. In Haiti and Jamaica, government support of childhood education is severely constrained by weak budgets. Teacher salaries are modest and school facilities are often in poor condition. School meal programs are limited, and for some schools non-existent. Hungry schoolchildren are unable to realize the benefits of education.

A grant from BGR is enabling TTFF to provide over 30,000 meals, plus corollary benefits to the teachers and producers. This program will benefit approximately ten schools in Haiti and Jamaica (five in each country) with three breakfast meals per week, for three classrooms of 30 children each, for a full semester. These are locally produced, healthy and nutritious meals, not imported foods, and thus the project benefits local industry. The porridge mix includes equal parts of breadfruit flour and cornmeal flour, plus coconut and other seasonings.

BGR team members Jessie Benjamin, Carla Prater, and Jennifer Russ helped prepare these project summaries.

Buddhist Global Relief has been a regular Foundation Beyond Belief Challenge the Gap beneficiary. They received grants of $2140 in Quarter 2 of 2011, a $7550 grant in Quarter 1 of 2013 and a $8000 grant in Quarter 1 of 2016. We have been honored to feature them often, and we also thank our Humanist Giving recurring donors that supply the funds for Humanist Giving Grants.