One of my mom’s oldest and dearest friends from her childhood, Amy Franklin, has followed her dream while also making a positive impact in the lives of so many people. She has recently started an amazing non-profit, Farms for Orphans, and I really wanted her story to be told!
Farms for Orphans, Inc is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation based in Loveland, Colorado. The mission of Farms for Orphans is to ensure that orphaned and underprivileged children in developing countries have a sustainable source of nourishment and access to education. The organization accomplishes this by building the agricultural infrastructure needed to produce food and provide training in environmentally sound agricultural practices.
I have been in contact with Amy over the past few months in helping plan my volunteer trip to India this summer. Amy has traveled the world and seen first- hand the devastating effects of poverty and malnutrition in third world countries. I find her knowledge and desire to help those in need inspiring, so I contacted her last week to ask her what her organization was up to and how she was inspired to start Farms for Orphans. Here is her response:
“Two questions I’m asked are: why did you form a nonprofit, and why work in DRC. My kids are the reason for both. Alan, my husband, and I brought our 2 adopted kids home from DRC in March 2013. We saw first-hand the devastating effects of malnutrition, hunger and poverty in this country. There are MILLIONS of orphaned children in DRC (and millions more around the world). Orphaned children are often the lowest socioeconomic sector of the population in developing countries, receiving little government or community support. As a result, food insecurity, malnutrition and associated stunting rates among these children are higher than in the general population.
“I felt a calling to to do what I can to help as many of these children survive, and even thrive. So Farms for Orphans was formed. As a veterinarian, I was focused on rearing livestock to achieve food security and meet the nutritional needs of the kids. But after reading the 2013 report “Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security,” which was published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FFO, I switched gears and decided to introduce insect farming in orphanages. Insect consumption is culturally appropriate where we work but, unfortunately, it is only a seasonal food source. Small=scale insect farming will enable food security in orphanages at a low-cost, plus it will be a consistent and nutritious food source, which also has the potential for generating extra income through the sale of excess production.
“Furthermore, FFO will provide vocational training in insect rearing techniques to older orphans who will soon leave the institution as adults, with a focus on young women, so that they have improved prospects to support themselves after they leave the orphanage.
“We propose a novel approach through insect farming that provides a cost-effective, self-sustaining, and nutritious source of protein and micronutrients to orphans experiencing poor food quality and security. Traditionally, organizations have addressed malnutrition and food insecurity with farming solutions that focus on traditional livestock. Our innovative approach addresses the problem of food insecurity and poverty with a culturally relevant and local food by farming insects to feed malnourished children.
“This project will initially take place in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a USAID priority region (USAID 2015). DRC is rated the hungriest country in the world and is one of the world’s top 5 contributors to child mortality and out-of-school children, hampering worldwide success on achieving key SDGs (USAID 2015). The situation is particularly dire for the country’s orphaned children, which number over 4 million (UNICEF 2009). Thus, we expect the effect of our program to be substantial in decreasing malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, which are responsible for nearly half of deaths among children under age five in this country (UNICEF 2009). ”
Thank you, Amy, for speaking to me and providing all of this information about Farms for Orphans.
Image credits: Amy Franklin, Farms for Orphans