A Life-changing Visit to Niger ~ Navyn Salem, Executive Director, Edesia ~ June 20, 2012
If you’ve never heard of the Sahel, you’re not alone. I myself had to double-check my world map. It’s a region of Africa that includes Senegal, The Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and parts of Sudan. There is a drought across these lands – the kind so severe, women are boiling leaves to feed their children – compounded by half a million Malian refugees searching for safety. There are 18 million people in the Sahel without enough to eat. Some 4 million children, born with bright eyes and promise, are now becoming skin and bones.
In early June, I traveled to Niger with Maria Kasparian, Edesia’s Director of Operations, who has been with me on this journey to manufacture Plumpy’Nut and other Ready-to-Use Foods from the very beginning. Two years after we opened the factory, it remains a priority for us to connect what we do every day in Providence, Rhode Island with the people it serves. It was also an opportunity for us to meet up with our PlumpyField partner, STA, who, from the capital city of Niamey, supplies Plumpy’Nut for all of Niger.
We visited clinics and hospitals in Niamey and Maradi (reachable only by UN plane) with Ismael Barmou, STA’s Deputy General Manager, to see how Plumpy’Nut is impacting human lives. As I stood in the malnutrition ward of a regional hospital, my chest tightened, and I had to work hard to keep my composure.
Plumpy'Nut for Bethlehem ~ Heidi Reed, Communications Manager, Edesia ~ May 22, 2012
In April, I had the opportunity to attend a nutrition workshop in Ethiopia, in the heart of the Horn of Africa. It was organized by Nutriset, the inventor of Plumpy'Nut.
As part of the experiential learning experience, a group of us visited a maternal/child health clinic in Addis Ababa. It was an opportunity for us to see how Plumpy'Nut is integrated into the community health programs.
The group first visited an exam room where children get checked for signs of severe acute malnutrition. While we were there, a little patient arrived, holding the hand of her mother: a two-year-old girl named Bethlehem. This energetic little girl with short hair and big, sweet eyes was wearing a jumper dress with bright chartreuse green tights and ruby red shoes.
A few thoughts about peanuts… By Nicole Henretty, Edesia’s Nutrition Research and Policy Advisor
Most of us take peanuts for granted in the United States. When you go to the grocery store, you can find peanuts in lots of varieties -shelled, roasted, flavored, raw- and if peanut butter is more your style, there are 20 different types and brands of peanut butter to choose from. We love our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and it wouldn’t be Halloween without Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! But we aren’t the only ones, peanuts and peanut butter – called pistache and mamba in Creole – are also very popular in Haiti.
As you may know if you are reading this blog, I work for Edesia, a non-profit organization in the US that produces foods that taste and look very much like peanut butter, except they are specially made to treat and prevent malnutrition around the world. We source our peanuts from US peanut farmers, as well as from farmers in different counties in Central and South America.
When they arrive at our factory, they are shelled, processed, bagged and ready to go! They have quality paperwork that assures us they are clean and do not contain any harmful bacteria or mold. So it is not often that I think about where our peanuts come from; never in my life have I really thought about how peanuts are grown, and I certainly couldn’t identify a peanut plant from a weed, until my trip to Haiti.
Feast or Famine ~ July 2011 ~ Navyn Salem ~ Rhode Island
As the Executive Director of Edesia, I am often troubled. Our
success is dependent on failure, failure on a grand scale somewhere else in the
world. When mother-nature and the best efforts at development have
failed, only then are we needed.
My job is to reach those suffering from the most severe
cases of malnutrition through a therapeutic peanut paste called Plumpy’nut®. Every morning I read my ‘Google
Alerts’ reporting on the malnutrition hotspots of the day. My heart aches and
tears run, reading about the seemingly insurmountable hardships that millions
endure every day and hearing their personal stories. Today it is the Horn of
Africa; 10 million people are affected by the worst drought in 60 years. With
no water, there is little chance for survival, children are dying and mothers simply
can’t get them help fast enough.
Preventing Malnutrition with Nutributter in Guatemala - April 2011
In April 2011, Maria Kasparian, Edesia’s Director of Operations, visited the projects of two partners in Guatemala. There, Hope of Life International and Wuqu’Kawoq distribute Nutributter to prevent malnutrition, reaching a total of about 10,000 children under two years old.
"Making a good product is only one link in the chain." Maria Kasparian
Maria’s Interview: Sharing her perspective as she returns from the field. (coming soon) Project Review: Learn more about the projects Maria visited in Guatemala. (coming soon)
A Daily Dose of Hope ~ April 2011 ~ Maria Kasparian ~ Guatemala
A little boy opens his mouth wide to get a little more of the sweet peanut paste from the small packet that his mother holds. Lucky for him, this packet is also chock-full of vitamins and minerals, fat and proteins for which his growing body is hungry. Fortunately he is still breastfeeding regularly, but as he is now 15 months old, he requires more and more additional solid food. In his village in Guatemala the main foods given to the children are corn tortillas and sweetened coffee. These help to keep him full, but they don’t have enough nutrients, proteins and fats. The child is fifteen months old and even though he doesn’t know it, his body is busy laying the physical and mental developmental foundation for the rest of his life…
HUNGRY FOR ANSWERS - A Conference Addressing Barriers to Nutrition in the United States and Around the World - March 2011
This conference, co-hosted by the RI Community Food Bank and Brown University, brought together experts from different fields - doctors, researchers, nutritionists, government leaders, representatives from non-governmental organizations and other practitioners. Leaders in the fight against domestic and global malnutrition.
“We sit behind the giants on whose shoulders we stand.” Dr. Deborah A. Frank to kick off the conference.
"The range of advocates young and old, governmental and grassroots, domestic and global all gathered in this one place was an important reminder that the fight against hunger comes from many angles, in many forms, through many faces, which was fitting considering the crisis of hunger and food insecurity works much in the same way."
First Plumpy'nut for Tanzania ~ December 2010 ~ Noel Mzese ~ Tanzania
It's been a long road
and although our eyes are blurry and we are tired, we are now filled with
excitement and celebration! In the third week of December 2010, just in time
for Christmas, the Power Foods factory began producing Plumpy'nut! Everything is
in full swing with engineers and production line workers running all about.
With boxes of fresh warm Plumpy'nut being stacked on pallets and waiting for the
first shipments. General Manager, Mama Anna Temu looks on proudly as this dream
becomes tangible right in front of her eyes.