Founded in 1915, Helen Keller International (HKI) is among the oldest international nonprofit organizations devoted to fighting and treating preventable blindness and malnutrition. HKI is headquartered in New York City, and has programs in 23 countries in Africa and Asia as well as in the United States. HKI builds local capacity by establishing sustainable programs, and provides scientific and technical assistance and data to governments and international, regional, national and local organizations around the world.
HKI programs combat malnutrition, cataract, trachoma, onchocerciasis (river blindness) and refractive error. The goal of all HKI programs is to reduce suffering of those without access to needed health or vision care and ultimately, to help lift people from poverty.
Nepal is one of the world's poorest nations with an estimated 40% of its people living in poverty. Social and cultural beliefs around nutrition, women, and the disabled continue to create barriers to development. Helen Keller International's programs have evolved to meet the current needs of the country in rural communities, as well as addressing the growing number of people living in urban settings.
Malnutrition is a major underlying cause of the child morbidity and mortality in Nepal with 41% of children under five stunted. Our current efforts address the root causes and conditions associated with poor nutrition in pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls, and young children under five years of age.
Helen Keller International manages a variety of projects, including our award-winning Homestead Food Production program that span five regions in Nepal and three ecological zones (mountains, hills and plains) and reach tens of thousands of families.
We provides mothers with the knowledge, skills and resources needed to increase their access to and use of locally-produced nutrient-dense vegetables and animal source foods. We offer nutrition education, skill building in effective home farming practices, and training in the preparation of nutritious – and tasty! – foods to ensure the impact is sustained beyond the life of our programs. For example, families who previously did not eat eggs – rich disease-fighting nutrients – due to customary beliefs now understand the importance of this nutrition powerhouse and are including them in their regular diets.
Helen Keller International is a key partner in the Suaahara a consortiums of partners working together to address chronic malnutrition through an approach that integrates 10 essential interventions. To date, this project has reached more than 600,000 children under the age of two and their mothers. We will soon begin the Sabal project using a similar approach.
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