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It’s Never Too Late to Learn

When 13-year-old Celestina Ackon was discovered by Pockets of Promise, she was doing extremely poorly in school, and nobody could understand why. Despite being a bright young girl who loved to learn, she constantly struggled to keep up with her peers in all of her subjects. On top of her struggles at school, her current living conditions only added to the problems she already had. Her parents earned their living by smoking and selling fish, and thus were not financially capable of assisting Celestina in her school work or getting her extra help outside of school. In spite of her many difficulties, Celestina was very passionate about her studies and loved going to school to soak up all the knowledge that she could. 

Pockets of Promise came to know of Celestina through their after-school program. They immediately put in the effort to find the root of Celestina’s problems with school. They quickly discovered that Celestina struggled to read and write well, which affected the rest of her subjects at school, as they all contained some element of reading and writing. 

When Celestina first started at the program, she was not able to identify some of the letters of the alphabet. Additionally, she was poor at phonics and was not able to discern the sounds that most of the letters made. To help her improve, Pockets of Promise put her in the Hooked-on-Phonics program, which taught her the alphabet and the correct sounds of each of the letters. This greatly helped Celestine master her reading skills.

On top of that, Pockets of Promise also aided in improving Celestine’s living conditions to give her a better environment at home to study. Celestina and her 10-year-old sibling now live with their grandmother, which offers her a quiet and secure place where she can better prepare for school. 

Celestina had been steadily improving in her studies since Pockets of Promise began to assist her. Now, she can fluently read books up to level three (3rd-grade level). Additionally, she has improved greatly in school, and can finally showcase her passion for the subjects she is studying. Celestina is very grateful for all the aid and wants to pay it forward- she wants to become a doctor in the future so that she can help other people the way that she was helped.

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All’s Well that Ends Well!

Coming from a teen mother in Assakae, a suburb of Takoradi in Western Ghana. The future for seven-month-old Evans Bossman, or Baby Kofi, did not look bright. His seventeen-year-old mother was young and unemployed, and she and her family did not have the time or the money to properly provide for their small child. Baby Kofi was neglected and severely malnourished, both of which can cause irreversible damage to a child. Kofi’s condition was serious. He was sick more often than not, and he required immediate care. Unfortunately, no one had the capacity to provide the needed care for him. Kofi was poor, hungry, and alone, but most of all, he was an innocent baby who had to bear the unfortunate circumstances handed to him. 

Fortunately for Baby Kofi, help came in the form of a local woman who notified Pockets of Promise about his condition. Pockets of Promise took immediate action. Kofi was moved to a shelter where his needs could be provided for – he was fed, held, and carefully nursed back to health

Once Baby Kofi was stable, Pockets of Promise began to provide him with milk and toiletries every month, resulting in a massive improvement in his health. The severely underweight baby who weighed only 3 kilograms when he was found, weighed nearly 5 kilograms seven months later, double his initial weight. 

Thanks to the help of Pockets of Promise and donations from our generous donors, Baby Kofi was given a second chance at a healthy life. Now at 1 year and 2 months old, Baby Kofi’s teeth have come in, and he has just taken his first steps. His development is right on track with his age group, and he now has the strength to toddle through the halls of the shelter. In addition to food, shelter, and care, Pockets of Promise also provides him with monthly visitations to meet with his family so that they can see their growth, healthy boy. 

Pockets of Promise plans to enroll Baby Kofi in a good school when he gets older and provide him with the tools he needs to achieve whatever he sets his mind to. 

You can help a child like Baby Kofi today! You can make a huge impact on a child’s life by sponsoring a child. 

 Sponsor a Child

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A Dream Come True

Imagine being a young boy with a big dream, one that you’ve had for a long time. Then imagine that after years of hard work and dedication, as a teenager, you are now smart and capable enough to achieve it. Except that, on this last leg of your journey, fate is not on your side. 

This was the reality for seventeen-year-old Santosh from India. Santosh had always believed in aiming high. He had big dreams of being a doctor – helping his community, making a good name for himself and his family, and being able to support his parents later in life. Ever since he was a child, Santosh has been dedicated to his studies, getting straight As in all of his subjects and ranking first in his class. 

However,  Santosh comes from a poor family. His parents have been very supportive of their children’s education and dreams. But their jobs as second-hand clothes sellers means that they’ve always struggled to make ends meet. They were able to get both of their sons through high school, but that in itself was a struggle. So when it was time for Santosh to go to college, they had no way to help. Getting their son into a medical college was like trying to land on the moon without a spacecraft. 

Despite his difficulties, Santosh studied day and night to get to the top of his class. He did not let his financial hurdles sway him away from his dreams. At the end of his school career, the only thing standing between him and his dreams was going to college. But since his parents did not have enough money to support Santosh’s college plans, and Santosh himself was not eligible to get an education loan, he had to put his dreams on hold.  

As they say, all’s well that ends well. Through a stroke of luck, Pockets of Promise came to know of Santosh’s plight through a volunteer, Sheeba. Through the help of generous donors, Santosh is now getting financial support to pursue his degree and is thrilled that his dreams are becoming a reality. The support that Pockets of Promise gives him also ensures that his family still has a good quality of life. 

There was a time when Santosh’s dreams would have seemed too idealistic to come to fruition. But his perseverance, determination, and help from unlikely places proved him right in the end. 

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Chai This on for Size

When you enter a home in India, you are often welcomed with a hot cup of chai tea. Sweet, spicy, and oh so creamy, this cozy beverage is enjoyed worldwide for its versatile spirit and heady flavor. Yet, beyond its taste, did you know that chai hosts a wealth of nutritional benefits such as better heart health, digestion, and cognition? Read on to learn why you should make this drink a staple in your routine.

Where does Chai come from?

Thousands of years ago, chai was a “healing spiced beverage” used in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the world’s oldest holistic healing practices. Originating in the royal courts, masala chai was a natural health tonic that lacked tea leaves. Locals believed that the ingredients were not only friendly to the palate, but also contained a wealth of nutritional benefits: mood-boosting cardamom, pain-relieving clove, and anti-inflammatory cinnamon, to name a few. 

Upon British arrival in the 1800s, black tea was introduced to chai recipes along with milk, tea leaves, and sweeteners. The Indian Tea Association advertised its health benefits, with the 1900s marking a massive increase in chai production and consumption (1).

India is the world’s second-largest producer and consumer of tea. Farmers handpick tea leaves for higher quality production. They are crushed and rolled to release the inner oils and juices, enhancing the flavor. Then, oxidation and fermentation occurs. Finally, locals bake the leaves in the sun to dry them out (2).

Health Benefits

The ingredients in chai tea provide significant benefits for your overall health. Cinnamon can help lower blood pressure and blood sugar. Ginger is a natural nausea-reducer, while black pepper promotes gut health. Caffeine and L-theanine are focus-boosters that are both found in black tea (3). 

Have you ever noticed a sense of comfort after drinking chai? That is thanks to nutmeg, a natural antidepressant that works with feel-good hormones in your body like serotonin and dopamine. Chai tea can also give your immune system an extra level of protection through polyphenols, plant compounds that contain high antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. These have been shown to improve digestion, heart health, and prevent inflammation (4).

According to the Mayo Clinic, black coffee has 2 times the caffeine that black tea boasts (5). You can rest easy knowing you’ll get the benefits of caffeine without staying up all night!

It’s worthwhile to note that not all cups of chai are created equal–distinct varieties have different amounts of these ingredients. Additionally, be wary of added sugar and creamer, as these can be detrimental to your health when consumed often. 

Ready to chai it?

Supplementing a balanced diet with chai tea can help your body’s natural defense against infection and disease. There are many different ways to integrate the drink into your lifestyle, ranging from frozen lattes to overnight oats.

Buying Indian-grown chai is a way to support economies like the ones Pockets of Promise provides aid to. The next time you take a sip of this comforting drink, think of the rich culture and history behind it, and the people whose lifestyle relies on its consumption.

Disclaimer: The heath topics discussed on this website are intended for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on this site.

Keywords: chai tea, masala chai, indian tea, india

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Digital Literacy

The only way of educating kids today is through some form of online or virtual learning.

If there is one important lesson the pandemic has taught us, it is that we need Internet access to have an educated future. For many across the world, online education has made life easy as the recent moves from traditional classroom systems to online education have surged. But while it has been great for many, this move has also shone a light on the basic rights of children to education once more. People across the world have learned that children in poor areas have no access to online learning, leaving them behind others in their generation. Today, there are many challenges to online learning, but the necessity of Internet access is crucial, and it is the foundation of gaining knowledge in our modern age.
Digital Literacy
Can you imagine your life without a fast and efficient internet connection?

Yet, with all of the improved broadband connectivity we’ve seen over the past years, and the exciting opportunities for using the Internet for learning across Africa, kids from the poorest areas have a hard time reaching them. Most children don’t even have a laptop or a way to arrive at destinations that have connectivity. 

An example of a country with such major disparities in connectivity accessibility among its people in Ghana. Online education in Ghana has grown very little despite the fact that some universities offer cyber schools. In many schools, there is a lack of infrastructures such as computers and networks, and most schools rely on foreign donors to keep up, while teachers are leaving the school because of low pay.

Governments don’t know how to approach drafting new holistic policies and strategies based on online learning. The same problem is occurring both in the developed world and the third world. COVID-19 opened an important discussion into how to educate our future leaders. Online learning plays a crucial part in educating growing children who are ready to take on, learn, and absorb. We are slowly becoming a generation of self-thought leaders and entrepreneurs. A young mind that witnesses a problem can significantly raise up and provide a creative solution if it has the right tools. There are hungry minds that are facing everyday hardships and seeking information on what to do to progress from the situation. These minds need to discover, contemplate and learn what their passions are in order to come up with solutions for a more equal society.

The Internet is crucial to a child’s education.

A child cannot be educated in this modern age if she/he doesn’t have the opportunity to study online. Understanding the importance of digital learning, Pockets of Promise approaches this complex issue with our Knowledge Mobile, a traveling classroom equipped with laptops and textbooks, intended to get educational materials to the poorest kids while allowing them to excel in their computer skills, discover their creativity, and pursue their interests.

Learn more about our Promise of delivering literacy to the world’s poorest and:

Join the Promise

 

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The Miracle Tree: Ghana’s Superfood

You’ve heard of superfoods like green tea, kale, and spirulina–but have you heard of moringa?

Moringa oleifera, commonly known as Moringa, is a tree found in the Himalayan mountains and parts of India and Africa. Also known as the Drumstick Tree and Ben Oil Tree, Moringa has been used in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the world’s oldest holistic healing practices, for thousands of years.

Drought-resistant and native to areas where malnutrition is prominent, the leaves, pods, and seeds of moringa trees are cultivated by local inhabitants for a variety of uses. In Ghana, village women pound the seeds and boil them to create oil that is often used for cosmetics. Moringa leaves are ground with shea butter to make soaps and ointments. As moringa is anti-fungal and anti-viral, it is excellent for hand washing.

In areas with a lack of sufficient medical care, natives use moringa to alleviate headaches, help digestions, and boost immune systems.

Nature’s Natural Defense

Moringa is full of phytonutrients: anti-inflammatory chemicals and antioxidants that play a role in natural disease prevention and treatment, provide immune support, and may contain memory enhancing properties. According to this study, the leaves have a more concentrated amount of these nutrients than most foods–7 times more vitamin C than oranges and 4 times the vitamin A of carrots, for instance. High levels of calcium, iron, and protein aid muscle growth, and the plant has also been shown to help with digestion issues.

With that much immune boosting, this plant packs a powerful punch against harmful bacteria and viruses.

Researchers are currently investigating whether moringa can supplement traditional medical care for high-risk conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. Additional studies have shown antidepressant potential when moringa is used along with traditional prescriptions. While moringa alone is no cure-all, this botanical marvel boasts a wealth of benefits in conjunction with medicine.

Ways to add moringa to your diet

There are tons of ways to sneak moringa into your diet. Cooking the leaves can add some nutrients to your soups and stews. When blended or ground in a food processor, the leaves can also be mixed in dips like guacamole. The easiest method is moringa powder. Available online and at various supermarkets, it’s as simple as adding a scoop to your drinks like teas and smoothies or baking it into pancakes or banana bread.

Support Ghanaian agriculture

Buying locally sourced moringa from Ghana not only ensures a quality product, but also helps support the natives whom Pockets of Promise (POP) gives aid to.

Pockets of Promise is dedicated to providing nutritious food to underprivileged children in our Feeding Program. Learn more about how Pockets of Promise aids India, Ghana, and Uganda, and click the button below to donate.


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Disclaimer: The heath topics discussed on this website are intended for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on this site.

Keywords: moringa, miracle tree, superfood, phytonutrients


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A grateful mind is the giving kind

Giving, or practicing gratitude, is one of those life lessons we are all taught from an early age. We are taught by both religion and mental health experts to count our blessings or to list the things we are grateful for. To help us jot down the things we are thankful for, it helps to keep a gratitude journal. Gratitude journaling is one of my favorite modern-day concepts, it is a lot more relaxing than watching the news and, at times, a lot duller but more helpful than sports. 

When we write down our thoughts on gratitude, it helps us to see all that we take for granted; things like time, space, and above all our ability to learn. Since you are reading this, we share that power to learn. We can educate ourselves. It is a fundamental but powerful tool that impacts each day. Learning is the root for growth in our lives.

However, this fundamental human right is not shared equally. In fact, the world is in a major learning crisis. Around 91% of children in this world had their education affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020, 1.6 billion children and youth were out of school and nearly 369 million children who relied on school for their meals were left without their nutritional needs being met.

Education has been a major issue for generations, both in the percentage of enrollment and the quality of education children receive.

It is a change that requires a collective effort that is continuous and evolving. At Pockets of Promise, there is a dedicated team focused on bettering education opportunities for children in Ghana, India, and Uganda. They focus both on the educational material and empowerment of children for better self-worth. 

In today’s world, it seems incomplete to speak of education without mentioning technology. Technology offers new possibilities for teaching, learning, working, and innovating, yet, several children in the world of poverty do not have access to this powerful tool. To help bridge the gap, Pockets of Promise offers Mobile Computer Labs that make technology accessible to several kids. 

Another important component of education is after-school programs which also provide meals to kids and are needed now more than ever. Pockets of Promise is currently active in parts of the world with marginalized communities and children living in poverty. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” These kids are growing up in a world that is unjust. Giving them proper education to equip them with the ability to make a difference for the better is the least we can do. 

Visit our website to learn about our programs and join our effort to make a difference. It is through the support of our awesome donors that we can share smiles on the faces of girls like Sindhu, an orphan from India. To borrow words from MLK again “The time is always right to do what is right.” 

(Sindhu an orphan from India)

Let us be grateful for what we can do!

 

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Albert, A Future Teacher, Receives A Life Time Opportunity

“Childhood, after all, is the first precious coin that poverty steals from a child.”

-Anthony Horowitz

When Pockets of Promise (PoP) first discovered Albert and his family, they had nearly lost all hope of their situation. Albert’s mother and children walked hours to cut down wood to sell.  She barely made enough money to support Albert and three of his siblings. Life was so difficult for them that she had been forced to give up 2 of her children for adoption. They never had enough to eat. Albert’s mother would constantly worry about what she would feed her malnourished children. Their living conditions were no better. Their one-room shack was made of poor quality mud and could barely house the five of them, offering little protection from the uncompromising elements. They had no amenities like electricity or water supply. Albert and his siblings couldn’t even go to school to get an education – in fact, he had never been to school in his life.  

In the midst of dark times, Albert’s story started to transform when a kind soul in their community reached out to PoP to help his family. 

PoP’s first priority was to provide the family with food supplies so that the growing children had enough to eat. This already made a huge impact on their lives as Albert’s mother would no longer be constantly anxious about their food. PoP also provided Albert’s mother with seed money to start a trading business, helping her earn more money to support her family. 

Soon, the donations and child sponsorships allowed Albert and his family to find a new home, instead of living in the one-bedroom shack. With PoP’s support, they are currently renting a spacious and safe house to live in comfort. In January 2021, Albert and his siblings started school for the first time. Prior to that, they participated in PoP’s after-school literacy program to prepare them for school. The first time Albert was able to recite all of his ABC, he shot up out of his chair grinning broadly, and started clapping for himself.  He was so excited and said to the teacher that he never imagined that he too would be speaking English. Albert is finally receiving the education he never even dreamed of receiving. He is immensely excited about this opportunity and aims to be a dedicated student. He already has big plans for the future; he wants to be a teacher so he can help others in his situation receive an education. 

Albert and his family are extremely grateful for all that Pockets of Promise has done for them so far. He continues to excel in the after-school program and is working hard to catch up with his peers.

Because of PoP’s intervention, Albert and his family gained a ray of hope in their lives. PoP’s focus on bringing the generosity of the international community to the doorsteps of the underprivileged is helping many families like Albert’s look forward to better lives.

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Feeding Program Aids COVID Food Insecurity in Uganda

2.4 million young Ugandan children are stunted for their age.

Only 6% of Ugandan children are able to eat a well-balanced diet from multiple food groups. Thin, frail, and vitamin deficient, children often turn to soil and clay as a means to stop the emptiness in their stomachs.
According to World Food Program (WFP) Director David Beasley, the world is on the brink of a hunger pandemic With the COVID-19 outbreak that has plagued us this past year, food insecurity only worsens. Crop production has slowed due to previous lockdown efforts,  especially in Ugandan farming industries already weakened by the locust swarms from last year. Pandemic restrictions prevent mothers from visiting health centers where they get their feeding supplements, and schools are unable to provide lunches. Global aid efforts are largely reduced and families struggle to support their own.

Thousands of children have not survived, and if we do not act, the numbers will only increase.

In response to COVID-related food insecurity, Pockets of Promise (POP) began a COVID feeding project supplying posho, a traditional meal complete with maize, rice, and beans, to 20 children and their families in Uganda.  While abiding by CDC recommendations of social distancing and hand washing, this monthly food supply is renewing the health of malnourished children. 
Pockets of Promise (POP)’s feeding program provides a beacon of hope for young children and their families. Contributions from donors like you help children from the ages of 3 to 15 receive traditional nutrient dense meals cooked from ingredients sourced from local suppliers.

By donating, you could save a child from hunger. Your aid lets a child focus on academic and social activities rather than an empty stomach.

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Using Education to fight World Hunger

Missed School Means Missed Meals for Many Children.

According to the World Food Programme, the latest record shows that 267 million children are missing meals because schools have been shut down.  
Education is a key method for addressing the issue of hunger in some of the world’s poorest regions. For many children including the ones we serve, going to school also means getting fed. Unfortunately, due to the spread of the coronavirus, kids are not only missing school but also the only healthy nutritious meal they will have for the day. 

We believe, by providing basic education for a bigger population there is an investment in economic development directly correlated with the overall development of society. Providing a better-educated future to a nation’s children is the stepping stone to improving the health care system, agricultural production, and political and domestic relations. Nutrition, however, is the building block of learning as a hungry child will not have the brain power to pay attention or understand what is being taught.

60% of the world’s hungry are women and children.

Despite efforts by notable world organizations to increase food supplies and eliminate hunger, the solution has proven elusive. The global hunger problem has been exacerbated by COVID-19 which has ravaged many communities around the world. Right on it’s heels was the devastation caused by desert locusts to poor areas which were already struggling. School Feeding programs were essential as they were often the only meal of the day for a lot of children. With the closure of schools, many of these children are going without food and malnutrition has skyrocketed.

What do you need to know about hunger after COVID-19?

Living in an uncertain time often we forget about the bigger picture and the consequences of the pandemic that struck our world where it hurts the most. 

COVID-19 caused enormous damage in the fight to the world famine that the number of people who will suffer acute hunger will grow more. The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) warned that by the end of 2020, more than 260 million people will face starvation. Hunger and malnutrition have been known to affect more people than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. With COVID-19 spreading in affected areas the outcome is equalling disaster. Food deprivation was taking a child’s life every 3 seconds before the threat of COVID-19 hit the food supply with movement restrictions, economic shutdowns, and rocketing retail prices.

What do we do to help?

Studies show results that educated female farmers in Kenya were able to grow 22% more than male farmers, by using the same resources and knowledge, only smarter.

If women had agricultural resources, female farmers could lift as many as 150 million people out of hunger.  

Pockets of Promise understands the power of education and that’s why we provide tuition assistance to children who cannot afford it and also supplement the education children in impoverished communities receive with our after school literacy programs. We know that effective learning is fueled by proper nutrition and are keenly aware of the nutritional needs of the children we serve. That’s why we provide breakfast in our classrooms and healthy snacks for the kids in our after school programs.

With the COVID crisis, more families are needing help than before and Pockets of Promising is doubling down on our promise of no child left behind by providing monthly food packs to families and feeding children who are now attending school. Watch our latest video of children in Ghana, India and Uganda who had a great time this Christmas enjoying a hot meal and getting school supplies to get them ready to return to school.

 


Pockets of Promise is dedicated to providing nutritious food to underprivileged children in our Feeding Program. Learn more about how Pockets of Promise aids India, Ghana, and Uganda, and click to donate.


Work Cited:
– https://cdn.wfp.org/2020/school-feeding-map/index.html
– https://www.worldhunger.org/women-and-hunger-fact
– https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-famine-world-food-program-david-beasley/
– https://epodcastnetwork.com/how-education-can-reduce-global-poverty-andhunger/