Our friends at Dhaka Tribune featured Thrive Filling the food gap.
Six million Bangladeshi children attend classes hungry each day. In honour of World Food Day on October 16, Kludio will partner with Thrive to help bring this number down. From October16 to 22, Kludio App users can add any amount of taka to their order and the support will go directly to support Thrive’s mission of delivering healthy food to hungry children and their families.
“At Kludio, the focus is to create food and a service ecosystem that customers will love, we care about how people feel when they order food,” said CEO Kishwar Hashemee. “The partnership between Kludio and Thrive is a perfect match. We’re both focused on improving lives and the planet through food delivery,” added Priscilla Heffelfinger, co-founder and CEO of Thrive.
Read the full article here: Filling the food gap
Smiles on, soap in hand, waiting for water.
This post is a written reflection by Ashley Spurlock, Manila, Philippines.
This is Thrive: This morning, two friends and I went to an area of Manila called Smokey Mountain. I’ve visited Smokey Mountain before, and each time I go it opens my heart a little more.
Apple? Check. Peanuts? Check.
Today I gave a little boy a bath while his aunt bathed his brother. These boys wear no clothes, they are covered in dirt from head to toe. They have no one to call “mama” and it breaks my heart. What can I do to help these babies?
Splashing around with chicks.
It can be overwhelming because the need is so great. However, sometimes it’s the simple things that can mean so much; an apple, a handful of peanuts, washing little hands with soap and water. They smile, they play, they laugh with their friends. For today, that’s enough. Thankful for this experience.
Thrive will be visiting Smokey Mountain on a weekly basis. If you would like to join us on a delivery, let us know! We’d love to have you!
Last May, Thrive partnered with the Progressive Assistance of Canada (PAC), a nonprofit that assists the poorest of the poor children in the Philippines to have a better life. Thrive is supporting the health and nutrition component of PAC’s Play and Catch-up program, which is primarily designed to develop literacy, numeracy, and social skills of children living in Barangay 128 of Tondo, Manila, an area more known as Old Smokey Mountain.
In an effort to continue Thrive’s philosophy with nourishing the mind, we provide healthy breakfast which includes hard boiled eggs, bananas, seasonal fruits, and potable water every Sunday. Soap and clean water for proper hand washing are also given.
PAC Founder Philippe Blanchard worked closely with Barangay Counselor Albin Salamat in creating this academic program which gathers around 75 children per session. In addition, the program features hygiene and nutrition education and opportunities to create art, play games, and make friends.
It has been wonderful to team up for a common goal. Thanks PAC for letting us join to continue helping the children of Manila.
Marylu Fryberger, a Madonna University graduate, former kindergarten teacher from Livonia, Michigan, and a stay-at-home mom in the Philippines will be leading Thrive into a new frontier: The slums of Manila.
Marylu, Priscilla Hefflefinger, Thrive co-founder, and Cindy Bryson, an expat with extensive experience in slum communities, have been delivering food to the 200 children living on top of a landfill within the Happyland slums, that many refer to as Trash Mountain, since April. Marylu says she is “thrilled to be working closely with these great women to serve a community of families whose lives will be forever changed by our work. To look at all the wonderful things Thrive already does in Dhaka, gives me great hope for the children of Manila.”
Marylu’s family has joined our efforts, too. Her children, James and MaryJane, have raised funds and distributed food to children served by the project. “There is nothing that makes me more proud than to see my children helping others. They truly have learned that being selfless and caring for others is one of life’s greatest lessons.”
Although Marylu misses the kids in her classroom, she finds great joy in tending to the nutritional and hygiene needs of children of Trash Mountain. “Although, teaching kindergarteners has always been my passion, life has blessed me with this opportunity to be with the families here and share their passion for living! I am truly grateful for this learning experience and opportunity to get to know the local cultural of my host country.”
“I have always been a person who has thought with my heart and worked for peace. The biggest struggle for me when I go to the mountain, to the orphanage, or any of the slums is that fact that I can’t do it all! I always remind myself to think about the things the children do have and the smiles on their faces when they see us, rather than all the things they do not have!”
And that’s a lesson for all of us.
Ariel School’s first day of classes were held May 9th.
The all-girls school, in the slums of Dhaka’s Rayer Bazar, was established by Rezwan Hussain, an assistant professor at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh.
Rezwan was inspired to start Ariel a little more than a year ago after walking through the area and seeing the appalling situations of some of the young girls living there, many of whom had babies in tow. In particular, a young mother named Brishti was comforting her daughter, Rasia, who was suffering an untreated broken arm. Rezwan got them medical help immediately. He realized that education could be a potential key for helping young girls break out of the prison of poverty, teen pregnancy, and hopelessness.
Ariel parent, Shanta steps in to substitute teach.
Ariel’s initial weeks of operation raised three main questions for Rezwan:
- Would the parents show up with their daughters?
- Would the volunteer teachers show up?
- How would the girls respond in the classroom?
We asked Rezwan about Ariel’s first three weeks and what insights he gleaned from the experience.
Turnout of Parents and Student Enrollment
“Yes, thankfully, parents did arrive to the school. But less than half of the girls recruited turned up.”
Rezwan says that he was disappointed though he expected some attrition. Residents in the slums of Rayer Bazar are routinely evicted by developers and, in fact, this is what had happened; one of the slums where students were recruited was demolished. Also, Rezwan learned that some parents won’t make the effort to walk the short distance to the school with their daughters. And, for many, Ariel’s 9 a.m. bell is just too early.
These realities considered, Rezwan was set to intensify his recruitment efforts but changed his mind.
Counting with animals. The children are now animated; attention has improved dramatically.
“Small numbers of students make it easier to see what works and what doesn’t. For the time being I’ve capped enrolment at 15.”
He adds that a smaller student body gives him time to talk with parents about how important it is to bring their daughters to school on time.
“By our eleventh day, every girl was at school at 9 a.m. Message received loud and clear!”
There has also been the issue of making the environment as stress-free as possible. This means no pressure, no demands, and nothing that scares the girls or makes them anxious. The reason? Stressed minds don’t learn. Rezwan had to teach the mothers of the girls to let go, literally and metaphorically, of their daughters, to not hover or micromanage them, to not glare, scold, or threaten them with violence.
“It’s improving. Trust is building in the mothers. And the girls are paying less attention to their moms anyhow because they’re at school and beginning to focus on learning.”
Turnout of Volunteer Teachers
The turnout of volunteer teachers has been mixed. Rezwan was concerned about staff scheduling over the university term break as the volunteer teachers are students of ULAB (University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh).
“Unfortunately, term break coincided with our first three weeks of operation. So a somewhat unbalanced picture of the student-as-volunteer-teacher model emerged. For the most part the teachers showed. But on day five we were down one teacher. Same on day seven. On day eight neither teacher showed up.”
Rezwan noticed that one of the moms, Shanta, came to Ariel on time, every day, and stayed for the session. Shanta had been working in a garment factory but quit to become a full-time mom.
“I noticed that Shanta could read. So I asked if she wanted to sit at the table and substitute teach. She agreed. And again on day seven. And once more on day eight. Shanta was a natural.”
Before Ariel was up and running, Rezwan envisioned involving the mothers as much as possible, to create buy-in and build capacity in the community. He is considering sending Shanta to train with some preschool teachers at a nearby private school, with the idea that she could become a full-time teacher at Ariel.
The Girls’ Responses
“This is Anju at Ariel Orientation, May 3rd. I wondered what I might have gotten myself into.” – Rezwan
What about the students, the young girls, the reason Ariel started in the first place?
“Their responses have exceeded my expectations,” Rezwan beams.
He says that during the first week the girls were taciturn, looking for reassurance from their moms, and somewhat sullen. By day six their attitudes had shifted.
“As I was walking back to my car to get something before class started, I bumped into three of our girls racing down the alley to get to school. They were glowing with anticipation and excitement.”
Three weeks in, the girls were no longer following directives about handwashing, eating breakfast, and taking a seat at an assigned table. Rather, they were taking the initiative, self-starting without prompting.
“At the tables they laugh and talk. They are no longer tightly wound shells.”
Rezwan adds that it’s possible the girls will respond even more enthusiastically when the music and phys ed programs are introduced. Curriculum at Ariel is being developed in stages so that the girls and teachers aren’t overwhelmed.
This is the same girl, Anju, May 25 (Day 11). She is grabbing two stools so she can run to her table and start school. She is moving so fast the picture is blurry.
“Handwashing is by now routine, done three times a day, at 9 a.m., after eating, and at day’s end. Repetition builds the habit.”
Rezwan says the girls seem to love this routine and now go to the wash basin with few cues.
“It is interesting because residents of the slums are notorious for not washing diligently with soap and water. But now I can see that it might simply be due to not having running water and wash basins in their homes.”
The next milestone?
“To get the girls to queue at the wash basin, in a straight line, without cutting in. They’re getting better.”
Rezwan says that if he succeeds he might be the first person in history to get ten Bangladeshis to wait in turn in an orderly line.
“I might have to hold a press conference on that monumental day and invite the world media. Sure, they’re only 4-year-old girls. But you have to start somewhere.”
Each visit, Fryberger, Hefflefinger, and Bryson bring five jugs of clean water to the top of the hill to teach the importance of hand washing. This is the only clean water these children receive all week. Each jug is $.32.
Within the bustling city of Tondo, lies a quiet hill-top community on top of an old dump site for the city of Manila. The locals call this place Trash Mountain. It is in the heart of Happyland, metro Manila’s biggest slum, and although it is no longer an active dump site, there is still garbage, broken glass, discarded food, and other remnants of everyday waste lingering beneath the feet of the 100 families who call this place home.
While the joy that radiates from the approximately 200 children living here is palpable, this community is severely poor, high in crime, and lacks basic necessities like clean water, electricity, and proper sanitation.
Hefflefinger and Kim Davies, hand out peanuts, a carrot, and a banana to each child.
The average household income is under $1 per day. This is just barely enough for parents to provide a simple family meal of mainly rice once or twice a day.
Most families, often with help from children, make their living scavenging for recyclables and food on the city streets and dump sites. The recyclables are resold for pennies, and the food is dusted off and recooked into a dish called Pagpag. Pagpag is either sold to neighbors or served to their families for nourishment.
Watch a Short Video (CNN) About Pagpag
Three children living in the Happyland Slums enjoy the gift of an apple and banana.
In an effort to feed the many malnourished children living on Trash Mountain, Marylu Fryberger, Priscilla Hefflefinger (Thrive Co-founder), and Cindy Bryson have been paying for, procuring and delivering fresh veggies, fruit, protein and water once a week to the children that pack a local community center when they hear food is on the way.
Carrots provide children with vitamin A, which is lacking in the diets of children living in slum communities around the world.
Starting in August, this feeding project will have the exciting opportunity to grow with the help of Thrive’s global donors. It costs about $96 for each food and water delivery. A monthly gift of $10 will allow us to work toward our goal of feeding each child a healthy meal five days a week.
This will be Thrive’s first project outside of Bangladesh. Be sure to follow Marylu, Cindy, and Priscilla’s Thrive adventures in the Philippines on our Facebook page.
Count Me In! Here’s my $10 monthly donation to children of Thrive.