December 27, 2012 | The Editors

In praise of a sweet potato, and our donors

Life in rural Kenya can pose challenges for a young girl—not least the hunt for sufficient and nutritious food. The story of Pauline, pictured below, inspired our Chief Development Officer David Wu to tell us how the Mama SASHA project helped change her life. Now, your gifts to PATH can create even greater impact. Through midnight Monday, gifts up to $100,000 will be matched by a generous group of our donors. Here’s how to donate.

Young girl in blue with dimples smiles for the camera, holding a piece of orange-fleshed sweet potato.
David Wu takes heart in the partnership of PATH’s supporters and their impact on girls like Pauline. Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.

Hope, innovation, collaboration—I see all of these in this beautiful portrait of Pauline. The eight-year-old from Kenya’s Western Province has seen more than her share of illness. But lately, she and her siblings are healthier thanks to a special sweet potato. Three days a week, they eat the nutrition-packed vegetables that her mother grows—the result of a project that’s officially named Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa. But everyone calls it Mama SASHA for short.

An incentive for better health

A collaboration between PATH and the International Potato Center with critical support from our individual donors, Mama SASHA links farming with nutrition and health services. Pregnant women who come to the clinic for prenatal care get an incentive: vouchers for orange-fleshed sweet potato seedlings. These sweet potatoes are higher in beta-carotene and other nutrients than traditional varieties.

What Pauline likes best: sweet potatoes in a stew with avocado, ground nuts, and milk. What her mother values: knowing that the orange flesh is providing her children with vitamin A, calories, and energy to help them fight disease and grow up healthy.

What local health workers—and we—are celebrating: healthier mothers and children, plus the opportunity to offer services that include HIV testing, malaria prevention, and vaccinations when women come in for prenatal checkups. “It’s a hook,” one nurse says, “and then we can offer them so many other things.”

Your support changes lives

Collaboration with donors is at the core of projects like this one. And that’s why I’m asking you to support PATH as you make your choices for tax-deductible donations in these last few days of the year. The hope and dedication of the people we serve combined with the support of our donors inspire me every day. I’m deeply appreciative—thank you.

Posted in: , , ,