Mission: Freedom from Hunger offers women in poor, rural areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America a powerful combination of microfinance, education and health-protection services so they can feed their children, safeguard their health and gain lasting knowledge and skills. Our programs build on a woman’s determination, courage, entrepreneurial spirit and love for her children. We increase sustainability through collaboration with in-country partners, and rigorous impact studies show that integrating microfinance with other needed services can alleviate poverty, improve health and end hunger—one family at a time, millions of people a year.
Results: Freedom from Hunger’s 49 staff have trained and supported 150 partners in 20 countries, who are currently reaching more than 4.4 million people (almost all women in poor rural communities) and benefiting a total of over 24 million, when their family members are included.
Geographic areas served: Africa, Asia and Latin America
Programs: For Assa Fofana, nothing is simple. If her child comes down with malaria—common in Mali—she cannot sell vegetables at the market so that her children have enough to eat that day. Instead, she stays home with her sick child. Savings set aside to buy food during the hungry season are spent on malaria medicine. She needs a loan to grow her business and earn more money, but her rural village is beyond the reach of banks and even most microcredit providers. School is expensive in Mali, but she knows her children’s education is vital for her family to end generations of poverty and hunger.
Freedom from Hunger knows that Assa and more than a billion people like her need more than money to defeat poverty. That’s why our programs combine microfinance with education and health services, including health savings, health loans, health insurance, health education, group discounts with health providers, mobile healthcare in rural villages, distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and more. To ensure lasting change, we train local organizations to deliver our programs cost-effectively and independently. We have shown that combining microfinance with education and health services is smart, both for women and for the local organizations that serve them. More and more local organizations are joining us in integrating programs to alleviate world poverty.
As a communications professional, I visited several of Freedom from Hunger's programs and talked to women participants. Some of the women I talked with were selected for the interview by local staff. Others volunteered on the spot. I picked others at random. I will never forget the women I met or the stories they told. Their determination to make life better for their children and themselves was present in every conversation. All they needed was the chance to make their hard work pay off in earnings, savings and knowledge. Freedom from Hunger's programs gave them that chance. There are too many heart-warming stories to tell, but one theme I wanted to mention is the one of empowerment. So many women told me how they believed in themselves and their ability to create positive change because of their participation in the programs. They gave me example after example of change. They were proud of themselves and they wanted me to know it. One thing that impressed me was that most of the women never knew the name "Freedom from Hunger"--only that of the local organization that delivered the services. Freedom from Hunger likes it that way. They train local people and organization to implement their high-impact programs and then they step back. If anything, they are too modest about their impact. I am grateful to have met these women and heard their stories of impact.