Monday, August 31, 2009

Thinking about Christmas Cards in August

Summer is just about winding down. And it's time to think about (gasp!) Christmas cards?

Well, one Christmas card. And it's no ordinary Christmas card. A few weeks ago, Bread for the World gave members the opportunity to choose among several images. The winner would be used for this year's Christmas card.

About 1,000 voters participated in the process, and 52 percent of respondents (including yours truly) cast their ballots for the picture displayed above for Bread for the World's 2009 Christmas card . This is a very powerful image portraying three women carrying water in Jaiselmer, India, near the Pakistan border.

I had gotten out of the habit of sending Christmas cards en masse the past several years. But I'm rethinking that practice. I want to share this beautiful image, along with the Christmas message of God's love through the birth of Christ, with many of my friends and relatives.

The 2009 Christmas card and two other designs will be available for purchase in October at Bread for the World's online store.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

No Matthew 25 Conference? Bummer! Here's a Consolation

We just heard the unfortunate news that there will be no Second Annual Matthew 25 conference (at least not this year) because of a lack of registrations. The planners from the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande hope to bring back the conference to Albuquerque next year. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I would like to share a couple of YouTube videos featuring Mike Kinman, the keynote speaker/preacher for the Inaugural Matthew 25 conference in 2008.
Mike, former executive director of Episcopalians for Global Reconcilation, was awarded the John Hines Preaching Award from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2008. Read award-wiinning sermon

In these videos, courtesy of Day1, Mike is interviewed about the progress of the Millennium Development Goals.

Jim Brown's Letter to the Editor of the New Mexican

The New Mexican (Santa Fe), Sunday August 23, 2009

Don't drop the global

While our own economic crisis and such things as health-care reform understandably occupy our attention, we must never forget the wider global needs, such as combating hunger, which often have very direct influence on our more local problems.

How we assist those in other countries needs to be as effective as possible in order to address these situations. The Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 in the House of Representatives (HR2139) and the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (SB1524) in the Senate go a long way to accomplish this.

Please contact our senators and representatives to support these measures. Foreign aid is only a very small part of the U.S. budget, but it has great impact.

Brother Jim Brown, FSC
Santa Fe

Here is a link to the web page for that Sunday's letters to the editor.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fall is for Green Chile Roasting, Conferences and Speakers

The fall season is nearly upon us in Albuquerque. You can tell by the smell of green chile almost everywhere and by the availability of sweet corn just at every growers market in town. This season is also about conferences and speakers. And I'd like to share four events with you coming in up August, September and October.

Trinity House Roundtable

On Thursday, August 27, Sharon Barefoot will lead a roundtable at Trinity House Catholic Worker, 1925 Five Points Rd. SW, in the South Valley. The theme of her talk is Bread for the World: Stopping Hunger. The discussion will start at 7:00 p.m.

Sharon has attended several of our Offering of Letters workshops, and her talk will address, among other things, the topic of this year's letter-writing campaign: foreign-aid reform. Please join us! She is pictured above (at left) with Bread for the World western region field organizer Robin Stephenson.

The Slow Money Movement
growing movement, which is related to the slow food movement, has scheduled its national gathering for Santa Fe on September 9-11 at the Santa Fe Farmers Market in the Railyard.

The purpose of the slow money movement is to
enhance food safety and food security; promote cultural and ecological health and diversity; and, accelerate the transition from an economy based on extraction and consumption to an economy based on preservation and restoration

The movement has developed a set of principles, including the need to to invest as if food, farms and fertility mattered and to steer major new sources of capital to small food enterprises.
Slow Money gets right to the heart of everything that's ailing our economy and corroding our culture. . .It offers a formula for a new kind of capitalism in which farmers' markets and stock markets both flourish Kerry Trueman, Huffington Post
The conference has a powerful line-up of speakers, including Paolo Croce, executive director of Slow Food International. See more information about the conference (Registration information is near the top of the page) Click here to see .pdf poster

Matthew 25 Conference
This is the second annual gathering to celebrate the outreach ministries and mission of the Congregations of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande.

This event, planned for for Friday and Saturday, September 11-12, at the Cathedral of St. John in Albuquerque, 318 Silver SW.. will focus on Matthew 25 where we are called to care for others by reaching out and touching the lives of those around us. This gathering also will provide an opportunity for a sharing of mission and assistance in starting mission programs locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.

St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church will host a Bread for the World display. If you're planning to come, please drop by the table.

Ending Hunger Summit
cosponsored by the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of New Mexico and the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of Colorado.

Saturday, October 17.
8:30 am – 1:30 p.m.
9100 Menaul NE, Albuquerque
Read earlier post with full details.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Addresing Hunger in Rural Kenya with PlumpyNut, Community Health Workers, and Drought-Resistant Seeds

“My child is losing weight…

Wambua Kangaa was brought to Kisesini Clinic by her mother because of weight loss. At 11 months of age, Wambua weighs only 12 lbs. Her mother walked a long distance from her village to bring her to the Kisesini Clinic in the hope of a cure for her illness – the illness of hunger. The Global Health Partnerships (GHP) medical team prescribed and dispensed the appropriate “medicine”: Food. (Photo: Wambua Kangaa with her mother at Kisesini Clinic)

By Angelo Tomedi
Founder of Global Health Partnerships
The problem of childhood hunger and malnutrition is not new to Kenya. As in other countries of Africa, childhood malnutrition is a major underlying or contributing cause of death for the large number of children who die before reaching 5 years of age.
However, a recent drought has worsened the food security problem in the region of eastern Kenya where Albuquerque-based non-profit organization Global Health Partnerships (GHP) works, resulting in an increase in a substantial hunger and malnutrition.
A survey of nine villages that was conducted by GHP volunteers in March 2009 revealed that about 30% of the children under 5 years of age were underweight, and one in ten had severe malnutrition. Since then the “long rains” have also failed and the situation has become even worse, with the crop failure causing food shortages and higher food prices.
The treatment of severe childhood malnutrition
An urgent priority is to identify and treat those children who already suffer from severe malnutrition. An effective proven treatment is the one that is used by Doctors Without Borders in their therapeutic feeding centers: a ready-to-use food, or RUF (a brand is called Plumpy’Nut). GHP has found a source of Plumpy’Nut in Kenya and has started a nutrition program for the children in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

Families with children who have less severe malnutrition receive a fortified corn-soy flour as supplementary food. The local village community health workers help to find the most severely affected children, generally the poorest families of the villages, and assist the Kenyan nurses in the distribution of the food supplements and monitoring of the weight and progress of the children.
Global Health Partnerships' Work in Kenya
In September of 2006, GHP began to assist some local villages in eastern Kenya to establish a primary health care clinic in the village of Kisesini, located in a region of extreme poverty and lack of access to health care. With the help of many generous New Mexico donors and supporters, the Kisesini Community Health Project has been serving over 35,000 people of the Kamba ethnic tribe in 75 villages in eastern Kenya.

The Kisesini Community Health Project includes primary health care in the Kisesini clinic, and preventive care and outreach services provided by a network of 150 community health workers located in the 75 villages.

An emphasis is placed on improving health care for pregnant women and young children. Many children die from easily preventable and treatable illnesses like malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, and malnutrition. The village outreach helps improve childhood immunizations, prevention and treatment of diarrhea (sanitation and water), use of bed nets for malaria prevention, and improving childhood nutrition.

Since a prolonged drought has worsened the problem of hunger and malnutrition, the village outreach and community health workers have become an important means of reaching the poorest who are most seriously affected by the lack of food.

Alleviating hunger and preventing severe malnutrition
The hunger of this drought-stricken region of Kenya affects adults as well as children, and all need and deserve to benefit from a relief effort to alleviate their suffering. However, young children are an important priority because they are growing and developing rapidly during their first two years of life.
Lack of adequate nutrition during that critical period of time can result in permanent and devastating harm to their growth and development. Malnutrition also affects a child’s ability to fight off infection, and is the underlying cause of over half of the 10 million children who die before reaching 5 years of age in developing countries like Kenya.
In addition to the treatment of severe malnutrition with therapeutic feeding, GHP is planning a relief effort for as many villages as possible that will emphasize the prevention of childhood malnutrition.
The project will include education about hygiene and sanitation and appropriate feeding of young children (breast feeding and weaning foods), as well as providing food supplements for the children and their families. GHP is providing weighing scales so that the community health workers can monitor child growth in the villages and assess the progress of this malnutrition prevention project. (Photo: Sammy, one of the children in the village is fed PlumpyNut)
Feeding the Local Villages

I set in place during a recent visit to the area a plan to distribute food relief to families in about 10 villages with active community health workers willing and able to organize the effort at the village level (there are 75 villages in our Kisesini Community Health Project, so we can expand if funds allow). I have arranged for the community health workers and a nurse to visit every household to weigh and measure the children who are less than 2 years of age, and distribute a food ration for the child and a ration for the family. The food rations will consist of local and acceptable foods high in nutritive value.
The children will receive a monthly ration of millet flour for porridge, milk, eggs, sugar, and cowpeas (a local legume). The family will receive a ration of maize flour, beans, and oil. The children who are found to have severe malnutrition will be entered into a therapeutic feeding program that uses PlumpyNut. During a recent trip this year, I participated in some of these efforts, trying to visit some of the more severely affected families - the poorest, AIDS orphans, etc.using my own money.
I am raising funds primarily for the purchase of the food rations. A donation of $50 will feed a hungry child for one month.
A more immediate need are drought-resistant seeds, ahead of the traditional fall planting season in mid-October. See details about fundrasing event on Sept. 19

You Too Can Help the Victims of Drought in Eastern Kenya

You are cordially invited to join us for a slideshow presentation and a fundrasier
S.O.S. (Sharing Our Seeds)
a response to the Hunger Emergency in Eastern Kenya

Saturday, September 19

Immaculate Conception Parish
619 Copper Ave. NW (downtown Albuquerque)
9:30-11:30 a.m.

Dr. Angelo Tomedi recently returned from a visit to clinic sponsored by Albuquerque-based Global Health Partnerships in the Yatta and Kitui Districts of eastern Kenya. During that trip, he discovered that an extended drought had worsened already difficult conditions for local villages. A shortage of food has affected both adults and children, especially endangering ongoing efforts to improve child nutrition in the area. Dr. Tomedi will present a slideshow and talk more about this emergency situation. Read Dr. Tomedi's blog post
Learn more about the emergency

So How Can You Help?

  • Join us at the presentation and learn more about the situation
  • Donate Money for Drought-Resistant Seeds (with planting due to begin in mid-October, the seeds are needed right away. You can send money to Global Health Partnerships, Inc., P.O. Box 4395, Albuquerque NM
  • Donate Money to purchase food rations (We will ask for free-will donations at the presentation)
  • Invite Dr. Tomedi to make a presentation to your congregation or your group

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Invites You to...

Ending Hunger Summit
Global Recession: We’re All in This Together

Saturday, October 17
8:30 am – 1:30 p.m.
9100 Menaul NE, Albuquerque

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry –New Mexico is cosponsoring the 4th Rocky Mountain Synod summit on hunger and poverty along with Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Synod Hunger Network and the Global Mission Committee.

You are invited to attend to learn more about the current global recession and be challenged by outstanding speakers and presentations that will focus on the impact of the economic downturn around the world and here at home.

The afternoon will include breakout sessions on topics of particular interest to New Mexico advocates.Speakers, via video conferencing, will include:
Nancy Arnison, Director of the ELCA World Hunger Program (and Bread board member); David Creech, Director of ELCA Hunger Education; and Ellen Teller,Director of Governmental Affairs for the Food Research and Action Center (Washington, D.C.)

Cost is $15 per person including all materials and lunch. To register or for further information, contact Ruth Hoffman or 505.984.8005

Great Article about Art Simon in Washington Post

Today's edition of The Washington Post carried a wonderful article about Art Simon, the founder of Bread for the World.

The newspaper interviewed Art about his new book,
The Rising of Bread for the World: An Outcry of Citizens Against Hunger.

Those of us who attended the Bread for the World national gathering in Washington in June were privileged to have received a copy of the book. I started it reading on the train to the airport and finished it on the flight back home to Albuquerque.

Art will be touring the country in coming weeks to promote the book. Unfortunately, there is no Albuquerque stop. But if you happen to be on the West Coast in early September or South Carolina in late September, drop by one of the churches where Art will speak about the book. He will also travel to the Upper Midwest, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and the Washington, D.C. area. Here is the full tour schedule.

Whether you're new to Bread or are a veteran activist in our organization, the book gives you great insight and background on the motivation that led Art to create this faith-based citizens anti-hunger movement.

Here's an excerpt from the Post's article about the book.
The book, released last month, chronicles Bread's rise from a shoestring operation run out of a parish building in Manhattan to a Capitol Hill mainstay that leverages $1.2 billion annually for hunger prevention.

Its philosophy, taken from an adage Simon's father often shared with him, is the same today as then: that it is better to build a fence at the top of a cliff than to have an ambulance at the bottom.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Fundraiser for Peacecraft on Sunday

  • [If you saw my post earlier today about drought and inreased hunger in eastern Kenya you'll want to attend this fundraiser. Dr. Angelo Tomedi will be speaking briefly about the situation in the region, Half of the money obtained from this fundraiser will go to Global Health Partnerships and its work in Kenya and other areas].

Peacecraft invites you to join us at Scalo Northern Italian Grill for a benefit brunch. Scalo owner, Steve, once again, generously offers his restaurant and the delicious food of Scalo to assist Peacecraft in a fundraiser.

Sunday, August 9th, 11:00am-1:30pm, at Scalo
Tickets are $50.00 per person. Seating is limited to 70.

Enjoy a wonderful summer Italian Brunch, learn more about how Peacecraft assists in alleviating poverty in the developing world, purchase donated items in a silent auction, and share an August Sunday with other interested and dedicated Peacecrafters.

Please call Peacecraft, 255-5229 to reserve your tickets or come to Scalo on Sunday.
(Photo of ONE Campaign fundraiser at Scalo)

Drought Worsens Food Insecurity in Eastern Kenya

Doctor Angelo Tomedi, founder of the Albuquerque-based organization Global Health Partnerships (GHP), had seen some evidence of hunger during his recent trips to the mostly rural area, where he helped set up a clinic.

So with more than 50% of Kenya's population living in extreme poverty (and most of this manifested in rural areas), it wasn't uncommon to see signs of food insecurity, especially malnutrition.

But Dr. Tomedi noticed something different during a recent trip to the region this year. The situation appears to be much more desperate.

I recently returned from a visit to our GHP project in Kenya. Our medical team encountered worsening child hunger and malnutrition in the part of Eastern Province where our project is located, due to a drought that has worsened the food security problem.
The food crisis appears to be affecting a wide area of East Africa. But as Lutheran World Relief notes:
Kenya is the worst hit nation, with three consecutive years without sufficient rainfall, leaving 2.5 million people without reliable sources of food—a number that is likely to rise to 2.9 million by November 2009, according to Famine Early Warning Systems network. In turn, food shortages have caused food prices to further increase— 33% over the past year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of Kenya.
Relief agencies warned about the crisis back in February.

"This is a very alarming situation," Gabrielle Menezes, a spokeswoman for the World Food Programme, said at that time. "People already hit by high food prices are struggling to feed themselves."
Conditions in Kenya are so bad that neither crops nor livestock can survive. Said the organization Global Voices:

Faced by the danger of losing their valued livestock, the Maasai, a traditional nomadic community resident in southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania, are driving their cattle into wildlife areas - and even cities - in search of pasture. This has worsened human-wildlife conflict as the weakened cows fall prey to lions and other predators.
What Can We Do? We need drought-resistant seeds
Dr. Tomedi is trying to raise funds the more immediate problem of food relief. The most immediate need is for drought-resistant seeds, to be planted in mid-October. If you would like to donate money for GHP to purchase these seeds, send your donation to:

Global Health Partnerships, Inc.
P.O. Box 4395
Albuquerque NM 87196
Be sure to mention that you would like your donation to go toward seeds for Kenya.
We are also planning a fundraiser/informational event in September (please stay tuned for details). In the meantime, if your church would like to host Dr. Tomedi as a speaker about this problem and a proposed plan of action, please contact him ( or me. Stay tuned for other opportunities to donate or participate in a fund-raising effort.

And if you would like to assist with efforts to develop longer-term strategy, please drop us a note. Said Dr. Tomedi: "We are hoping to address the problem with a food relief effort to be followed by a more long-term strategy of increased food production capacity.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

"A Powerful Noise" part of of lineup of Albuquerque Film Festival

If you missed the viewing of that wonderful movie A POWERFUL NOISE back in March, you have an opportunity to catch the film this Saturday, August 8, at 2:00 p.m. at the KiMo Theater. The movie is being shown as part of the Albuquerque Film Festival. The previous showing around the country (including Albuquerque) was sponsored by the Care Action Network

Here is a short description:
The movie takes you inside the lives of three women from different countries to witness their daily efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, champion girls’ education and unite ethnically divided communities. The film will be immediately followed by a town hall discussion with expert and celebrity panelists – including Nicholas Kristof, Christy Turlington Burns and Dr. Helene Gayle - broadcast live from New York City to participating theatres.
And a trailer on YouTube.