Sustainability starts with kids

Living Heart in Peru“There are many small non-government organisations which try to make a difference by their humanitarian efforts to help malnourished and disadvantaged children, especially in underdeveloped and developing countries. Yet this work is not considered ‘sustainable’, THE buzz word when applying for grants or donations”, writes Sonia Newhouse who works high in the Peruvian Andes. “But what could be more sustainable than children, for the future of their societies and countries!”

“Sustainability of projects is recognised by most large and small donors as ‘the’ qualification when receiving grant applications, as they are then considered to be self-sustaining and will therefore only need a one-off donation.

Malnourished children are not considered ‘sustainable’ in this modern interpretation of the word and do not qualify for monetary help, except from mostly small donors who give with their hearts and unconditionally, for which these small charities are so very grateful. But there are not enough of these heartfelt gifts to ensure ongoing help.

In the meantime these children do not have sufficient nutrition to develop mentally and physically, which results in stunted growth and poor achievement at school and are therefore unable to gain maximum benefit from what little education is available to them. This does not encourage them to help themselves to become empowered useful citizens. If they are well-nourished in their early years then they, in their turn, will be able to give the next generation of children the benefit of being educated parents and so helping to change long standing patterns of complacency and ignorance regarding the importance of education and a good nutritional diet. Also, there is evidence that parents are now sending their children to school because there is food provided by charities such as ours!

Of course nutrition is not the only help these children need, but without good, wholesome food any other help cannot have its benefits maximised and therefore could be considered an inadequate effective use of funds.

Ignorance breeds ignorance and incest, sexual violence and general disrespect for each other can be some of the tragic results. These children have no chance to become better people with consideration and love for others – one of the basic spiritual laws of the universe. Many people say to such charities: “Why bother to help these children? It’s a waste of money – you will never get anywhere.” Well, these charities do ‘bother’ to try to make a difference!

The adults of the world have a human responsibility toward the children of the world who will become the adults of the coming generation. These children need good nourishing food to grow into full health, giving them an opportunity to live empowered lives, so that they may develop to their full potential and become aware useful adults in this fast-changing world. After all food is a basic human right!”

  • Sonia Newhouse says that her plea is for all the undernourished children of the world. Sonia is the founder of Living Heart, an English charitable trust, and Living Heart in Peru is a registered Peruvian Charity. They work in the high Andes above the Sacred Valley, near Cuzco, amongst the remote native peoples and where education is at a minimum, medical aid difficult to reach and where cultivable land is very limited.  Many of the children walk 3 hours down the mountain to school on an empty stomach. Living Heart only helps those communities where the majority of the children are suffering from malnutrition. These communities are remote and often difficult to reach by transport. The communities which are nearer to tourist areas and at lower altitudes are mostly better fed.
  • Living Heart has an urgent need to ensure its most critical nutrition program is fully funded for the next year. Breakfast and lunches are provided through school for 9 months of the year. There’s a 3 month break during the rainy season as movement at these altitudes of between 3800m and 4200m is often dangerous making it difficult to get to school.

– Breakfast and lunch for 1 child for 1 month (21 days) costs approximately US$8.50.

– Breakfast and lunch for 1 child for 1 year (9 months) costs approximately $76.

– This price includes transport, food purchase and cooks’ wages.

You can also help support Living Heart via The Intrepid Foundation and Intrepid Travel will double* your donation!

* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.

Photo: © Living Heart

About the author'
Jane Crouch - Jane is a responsible business guru who writes about all aspects of how travel can bring positive environmental, social and economic benefits. Informed through travel on seven continents, leading Intrepid trips through SE Asia, work in outdoor education, energy conservation, international development, philanthropy and climate change action, plus a big love of walking, mountains and world music.

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