By: Ashley Eccles Raymond
The Liahona Children’s Foundation (LCF) is a non-profit, grass roots organization that seeks to provide underweight and malnourished LDS children from six months to five years of age with nutritional supplements. In an interview with a blogger at By Common Consent, director Dr. Brad Walker estimated that 80,000 active LDS children are chronically malnourished (Click here). The LCF also promotes extended breastfeeding and provides education in hygiene and food safety, as well as some scholarships for children to attend school. The foundation is currently working with stakes in Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Cambodia.
The LCF has been distributing supplements to children in resource-poor countries since 2008. Under the direction of Dr. Walker, local coordinators deliver the supplements to children in their stakes. These coordinators are sisters that are members of the stakes and are given a stipend for their work, thus also helping them to support their families. The LCF is currently working in 30 stakes. Supplements are also given to non-LDS children who are friends of children in the program.
The Liahona Children’s Foundation is run by volunteers. There are many opportunities to get involved as a volunteer, a student intern, or as a group of people for a youth project. The LCF offers a program called Adopt-A-Stake, where an individual or group of people can support nutrition in a stake in a developing country by committing to raise and donate $6,000 in a year to the area of their choosing.
The LCF is currently holding a series of events in cities throughout the Western United States to raise awareness and funds for their efforts. There are a few events left in the coming week. A Hunger Banquet will be held on Monday, September 30 at 6:30 PM at the Lindon Community Center in Lindon, Utah. To RSVP for this event, click the link: tinyurl.com/lcf-banquet. In addition, the following firesides are being held:
Bountiful: Wed Oct 2nd 6:30–8pm
Carol Coombs Residence
942 E. Millbrook Way, Bountiful, UT
Ogden: Wed Oct 2nd 6:30-8pm
2126 N. 750 W. Clinton, UT
Provo: Saturday October 5th 8-10am and 12-2pm
Lindon: Sunday Oct 6th 5-7pm
Polly Sheffield Residence
274 North 550 East, Lindon, UT 84042
I was fortunate enough to be able to host one of these events at my home tonight. Dr. Brad Walker presented information about malnutrition throughout the world and the LCF’s efforts in the four countries where it currently has a presence. He reported that even though children in all countries have the same growth potential, in Guatemala, around 50% of children screened fall below the smallest measurements for height and weight on US growth charts. In Cambodia, this number is 80%. The work the LCF is doing is standard for malnutrition programs. They have an effective system in place but need increased funding to keep it running and to expand to other areas in need, including Africa. The Church currently does not have the infrastructure in place to screen and treat these thousands of malnourished children.
Also presenting were Gloria, the program coordinator for the Momostenango in Guatemala and her husband Francisco; Dany, the coordinator from Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and her husband, Eng; and Nati, the coordinator from Cusco, Peru. We heard stories and viewed photos and videos of children that have been helped in each area. These coordinators also prepared food from their home countries and presented handmade items that could be taken home for a donation.
As they sat in my home, cooked in my kitchen, and sincerely told of their concern for the children in their stakes, I was reminded of what Mormonism truly means to me. It means coming together for a shared goal despite our differences. It means celebrating those differences, and using our unique strengths and our shared faith to accomplish something greater than ourselves. It means being humble and pure in heart, whether we are the affluent member in the United States giving of our means to help someone we will never meet, or the mother of a now-nourished child, tearfully smiling and thanking strangers on the other end of a video camera, knowing that we are one in purpose.
It costs about $50 a year to support a child’s nutritional needs, and an additional $50 to send them to school. An entire stake can be supported for a year for the cost of $6,000. To donate to the LCF, visit http://liahonachildren.org/#/donate. Donations are accepted through the site using a credit card or paypal. A check made out to “Liahona Children’s Foundation” or “LCF” can be mailed to 274 N. 500 E. Lindon, UT 84042.