When Laura first came to me with her idea to start Hands to Hearts, I knew it was an important. And when she reported, after a year of operation, that the mortality rate significantly went down in the orphanages that took their training, I was amazed. Since then, HHI has touched over 100,000 lives in India and Africa, training parents in early childhood development and health practices. I went with Laura to a training in Uganda and heard the countless reports from the women how it significantly shifted their relationship with their children and the community. It empowers women, nurtures children and heals communities. HHI's power is such that several organizations have asked to partner with them, including Save the Children and Medical Teams International.
I've known HHI since its inception, I was on the founding Board of Directors when HHI was first created in 2004. Over the years I've kept in close touch with the organization and with HHI's founder, Laura Peterson. I've seen all the ups and downs and am continually impressed with how a small group of people can make such a profound difference in the lives of so many others. In 2010, I had the opportunity to go and visit HHI as they launched their new project in Uganda. I spent a whirlwind week and had the opportunity to not only sit in on an entire HHI mother's training, but to film it. I met HHI's local trainers, all the mommies and their babies and HHI's local partners. What impressed me most and sticks with me to this day is..... HHI inspires me, it is run with a very small budget, with great integrity and the positive impacts it has for women and children last forever.
I've been a long time supporter and volunteer(technical support) for Hands to Hearts Int, a growing and ambitious organization committed to change the life of children when they are the most vulnerable : early infancy and addressing an often overlooked aspect of our lives (particular in under-developed countries): emotional attachment. Incorporating key elements of communication & hygiene and supporting the emancipation of women, HHI program is a big success story , as I was able to witness during a visit to one of their working sites near Theni, in Tamil Nadu (India). Mothers and care-givers discovered a new level of attachment and care for their babies and an enhanced commitment for their upbringing. Fathers become also interested in the training and more involved with their babies than before. The numbers tell the same success story: over 100,000 children across 4 countries benefited from this program. None of this would have happen without the dedication and hard work of HHI's founder and leader Laura Peterson. She is the ever-working engine focused on efficiency and making the most impact with the limited resources of a emerging non-profit.
As an individual, trying to make a significant difference in the wider world sometimes can feel like a insurmountable task. The issues to be tackled feel huge ... and many individual's resources can feel too insignificant. Non-profits can provide common vision, direction, application and expertise to groups of individuals, providing the means to leverage a combined impact. Hands to Hearts is a excellent model of the above, leveraging my donated dollar to maximum impact in a meaningful way. They have impressed me with their dedication to their critically important cause, their stewardship of donation dollars and their commitment to maximizing the impact they make. I am happy and proud to be supporting them.
As a donor to Hands to Hearts International I want to inspire other people to donate. I was able to see HHI’s work in action when I was invited by founder/director Laura Peterson to participate in the pilot program in Kampala, Uganda. Many of the women said their lives were forever changed by what they learned and they were eager to share it with other women in their villages. In this way, the whole community is enriched through just one HHI training. Laura has created a lean organization that has an amazing reach. She’s truly changing the world, one child at a time.
Review from Guidestar
I have been in international health for over four decades and never realized that emotional and cognitive development under the age of three was just as importance of physical development. If the caregivers do not provide the stimulation and love to the infant/young child, irreparable damage is done. Since 1980 we have made significant progress in increasing the number of infants and under threes that survive; now we have an obligation to ensure that they thrive. Hands to Hearts International has demonstrated that this can be done effectively and inexpensively with over 100,000 caregivers trained and benefiting from their elegantly simple, cultural-based training.
Review from Guidestar
Because choosing a non-profit organization to support is a difficult decision to make, I spend a lot of time closely examining their work and mission, their impact and passion. I want to believe that what I am able to give is really being used to greatest benefit. Why I truly love working for and supporting HHI, aside from its mission to help both women and children worldwide, is its ability to help many many people in a very cost-efficient and sustainable way. HHI truly utilizes its resources efficiently and in doing so they are able to help thousands. HHI focuses on the impact of education in order to instill change. Teaching people how to use what resources they have available is a great way to evoke change in a manner that is reasonable for those who are impoverished. HHI's mission to empower caregivers allows these women to not only learn how to become better at caring for the needs of children, but it also teaches them to be proud of themselves for what they are doing. And that pride is what sustains the passion for learning and for caring.