Country Stars Thompson Square Show Newfound Appreciation After Visiting Honduras

Country duo Thompson Square are well-known for their musical prowess and awards, but fans may not know they’re also becoming one of ChildFund International’s most visible advocates for children in need.

A year ago, Keifer and Shawna Thompson joined the team at ChildFund LIVE! channel, which is an initiative that encourages performing artists to raise awareness about sponsorship and what it means for youth who struggle with extreme poverty. In hopes that their celebrity appeal may have some weight with their fans, the husband and wife band implore the audience at every one of their concerts to sponsor children who survive day to day without clean water, sufficient nutrition or access to health care.

Los Proyectos de Jardineria Ayudan a los Ninos a Florecer

<b>Los Proyectos de Jardineria Ayudan a los Ninos  a Florecer</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Los padres estadounidenses pueden relacionarse con sus hijos al llevarlos a mercados de granjeros o al enseñarles como sembrar plantas en ollas, pero en otras partes del mundo el cultivar plantas literalmente puede ayudar a mantener a las familias unidas.

En Ecuador por ejemplo, los niños a menudo eran dejados solos mientras sus padres iban a la ciudad a trabajar. Debido a que los niños tenían que cuidar sus hogares mientras sus padres no estaban, muchos dejaron de ir al colegio. ChildFund Internacional, una organización que se enfoca en trabajar con niños, al igual que con sus familias, organizaciones locales y comunidades para crear medio ambientes en donde los niños pueden prosperar, decidieron hacer un acercamiento único con la comunidad para resolver los problemas – al cultivar un jardín.

ChildFund Ecuador inició la capacitación de la comunidad en el cultivo de flores y hortalizas, así como la administración de empresas. El banco local, que ayudó a desarrollar ChildFund, dió a los padres locales los préstamos que necesitaban para construir invernaderos de rosas, claveles y tomates. Hoy, más de 285 familias utilizan sus invernaderos como su principal fuente de ingresos, por lo que los padres no tienen que emigrar a las ciudades a trabajar, y los niños pueden asistir a la escuela regularmente.

Las mujeres activas Mayas, o Mujeres Emprendedoras mayas, en las zonas rurales de Tecpán, Guatemala, están usando túneles macro – o invernaderos en miniatura – para cultivar tomates, creando así ingresos y mejorando la seguridad alimentaria para sus familias. Las mujeres no solo se vuelven más capaces de crear sus propios ingresos, sino que también adquieren la capacidad de una mejor atención para sus hijos.

En ChildFund Uganda, los niños y sus padres plantaron más de 10,000 árboles de eucalipto y 5,000 árboles de pino para crear dos nuevos bosques. En una zona donde la degradación ambiental ha reducido la calidad de vida, los nuevos bosques proporcionan leña de bajo costo, protección contra la erosión del suelo y un impulso económico, ya que los árboles proporcionan madera para la vivienda y otros proyectos.

“Los bosques serán una importante fuente de madera, que se utilizará principalmente en la construcción de viviendas, y las casas son muy importantes para nosotros “, dijo un niño de 14 años de edad, Nalubega Florencia, estudiante de la Escuela Primaria de San Andrés.

Para saber cómo puede ayudar a que las comunidades se unan a través del crecimiento de plantas, visite ChildFund Internacional en www.ChildFund.org.

Gardening Projects Help Children Flower

<b>Gardening Projects Help Children Flower</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – American parents may bond with their children by taking them to farmers’ markets or showing them how to grow potted plants, but in other areas of the world, growing plants may literally help keep families together.

In Ecuador, for example, children were often left alone while their parents went into the city to work. Because children had to take care of the home while their parents were away, many stopped going to school. ChildFund International, an organization that focuses on working with children, as well as with families, local organizations and communities to create environments in which children can thrive, decided to take a unique, community-wide approach to solving this problem — by growing a garden.

ChildFund Ecuador started training the community in flower and vegetable cultivation, as well as business administration. The local bank, which ChildFund helped develop, gave local fathers the loans that they needed to build greenhouses for roses, carnations and tomatoes. Today, more than 285 families now use their greenhouses as their primary source of income, so the parents don’t have to migrate into the cities to work, and children can attend school regularly.

The Actively Engaged Mayan Women, or Mujeres Emprendedoras Mayas, in rural Tecpan, Guatemala, are using macro tunnels — or miniature greenhouses -; to grow tomatoes, thereby creating income and improving food security for their families. As the women become more able to create their own income, they also gain the ability to better care for their children.

In ChildFund Uganda, children and their parents planted more than 10,000 eucalyptus trees and 5,000 pine trees to create two new forests. In an area where environmental degradation has reduced the quality of life, the new forests provide inexpensive firewood, protection against soil erosion and an economic boost, as the trees provide timber for housing and other projects.

“Forests will be a major source of timber, which will be mainly used in house construction, and houses are very important to us,” said 14-year-old Nalubega Florence, a student at St. Andrew Primary School.

To learn how you can help communities come together through the plants that they grow, visit ChildFund International at www.ChildFund.org.

Thinking Outside the Traditional Gift Box

<b>Thinking Outside the Traditional Gift Box</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Gift giving, whether for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries or other occasions, gives enjoyment to the recipient, as well as the giver. And during times when hardships may keep joy to a minimum, people are looking for ways to spread the happiness that gifts bring, not only to their family and friends, but to everyone.

Traditionally, gift giving has been a family-and-friends affair. However, many people are looking to hang on to the happiness they feel when they give gifts while also making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate, whether it be locally or across the world. ChildFund International offers just a few ways people can think outside the traditional gift box:

A gift of nutrition

What do pigs, corn and bean seeds, mosquito nets, solar lanterns and soccer balls have in common with the Playstation 3? Well, not much, except the price. A PS3 now costs $199; these other items cost about $190.

While the PS3 has dropped in price, and it may provide hours of fun for a family of four in the U.S., these other items can often mean the difference between life and death for children and families in the 31 countries where ChildFund International works.

ChildFund’s Gifts of Love and Hope catalog allows people to buy individual gifts for children and families who need it most. A pig in Indonesia, for example, costs $24 and can provide a family nutritious meals as well as a means of income. A $13 mosquito net can protect children and families from malaria in The Gambia and Afghanistan.

Literacy for a brighter future

Books are key to learning how to read, learning and using your imagination. Getting lost in a good book at any age is a favorite memory for many people.

But children around the world are in need of books. ChildFund International’s Gifts of Love and Hope catalog can make that happen. A $7 textbook can help a student learn in a Liberian classroom; $14 can provide five story books to a children’s center in Sri Lanka; and $38 can provide reference books for many children and youth to use in a school in the Philippines.

For more information, visit www.ChildFund.org.

Toys of the World Celebrate Power of Play

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – For most children in the United States, finding a toy with which to play is hardly a hardship. A trip to the toy store with some allowance money, or a holiday or birthday, provides plenty of action figures, model cars, dolls, talking robots and video games.

But many children in developing countries around the world cannot afford to buy any toys — and these children often show ingenuity and creativity in making their own toys.

To celebrate the power of play, ChildFund International has created a touring exhibition titled, “The Power to Play: From Trash to Treasure,” which displays 350 handcrafted toys created by children around the world. Some of the toys are easily recognizable, like soccer balls and kites. Others are unique to their place of origin, or reveal the social, economic and political conditions in which their makers are growing up.

“Our traveling exhibition highlights the resourcefulness and creativity of the children who created the toys,” says Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund International. “Thousands of viewers will gain new appreciation for the power of play and its role in childhood development.”

Play proves essential to children’s healthy development, helping kids solve problems, test new ideas and gain friendships. So, what kind of toys can viewers expect to see? Warsito and Ade of Central Java, Indonesia make stilts to play a popular game, called “egrang.”

“It’s an exciting and unique game, and I love playing it,” says Warsito. “You can tell when a child is an expert in playing this game. He or she must have a good sense of balance and high skill to play it.”

Tyrel of Dominica has made his own toys since age eight. “I loved playing with toys, but my parents were not always able to afford them, and the ones that they occasionally bought did not hold together for long.”

Nollan, a 13-year-old from Honduras, fashions a toy called “The Trapeze Artist,” which he makes once a year and often lends to siblings and friends.

These unique toys are just a few examples of the types of items in ChildFund International’s Power to Play exhibit, which will be traveling to major museums and other locations across the United States through 2011.

For more information about the exhibit, or to learn how you can improve the life of a child in need, visit www.childfund.org.