JOURNEYS

Feeding Hope

Nanci Sebeniecher of Hope Feeds shares her journey of working to alleviate hunger to Africa’s most starving children.

Playful children on a site visit for Hope Feeds. ©  Nanci Sebeniecher 

One look at the children, so innocent, and yet so fragile, skinny as bones (literally), and my heart became linked to their struggle, my life became called to work to better their lives.

I was first led into process of serving children in the developing world when I was led by the Lord to go on a trip to Nigeria with Dr. Arthur Ammann, founder of Global Strategies for HIV Prevention and Dr. Christian Isichei, founder of Faith Alive in Jos Nigeria; Dr. Ammann makes frequents trips to Africa on behalf of Global Strategies. Because I knew them personally—Dr. Ammann and I resided in Nothern California (my hometown)—I was able to accompany them on a trip. That was in 2004, when I was still working in travel immunizations for people traveling abroad, yet feeling like God had more for me; I think He definitely called me to go on this trip in order to open my eyes.

For that trip, we held a workshop in Jos, Nigeria training birth attendants how to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. [Prevention of pediatric-caused AIDS is a facet of the Global Strategies mission].

Though the focus on that trip was AIDS, the children that I interacted with caught my heart. That trip changed me on the inside and completely changed the trajectory of my life.

Global Strategies soon after brought me as a board of director and most recently gave me the opportunity to become co-director (alongside Marian Roan) of Hope Feeds, which distributes Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a ultra nutrient-rich peanut butter substance created by a man named Dr. Mark Manary. Hope Feeds was started because we recognized the growing population of malnourished children in Africa as Global Strategies worked to give HIV treatment; malnourishment became an issue in regards to treatment because children must be nourished in order to fully administer the antiretroviral (ARV) medication – without a well-fed body, the body will kick back the ARVs

Hence, RTUF is used in order to be a remedy to the malnourishment and then in turn get the ARVs to properly take hold in the body. We started implementing RUTF in facilities in DRC(Congo), Jos, Nigeria and Monrovia, Liberia. We are having challenges in all places because of the work and the government, but we are trusting the Lord to continue to open doors so that we can implement RUTF and help lives.

Marian is currently in Liberia and I was in Liberia in January. We are trying to help our partners, Luther Tarpeh get this peanut butter house up and running. Lots of barriers with the government exist, but we will overcome if it is in HIS plan. Luther is an amazing pastor who has brought 18 street boys together after the civil war to teach them the basics of life from the 4 gospels. It has been almost 3 years now and it is truly amazing what God has done to those boys’ hearts. Luther has a vision to open up 9 boys and girls homes all over Liberia to bring the future together in Christ as leaders. It is honorable to be partner with him and others like him that want to see the best in his country’s children.

From here, we seek to continue to cultivate relationships with partners in those affected African countries and continue to open doors, so that the children get the nutrients they need and can progress in life. We can only trust Him, and continue walking on His journey He has set us on.

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Nanci Sebeniecher is the co-director of Hope Feeds, which administers a special Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) to malnourished communities in (Congo), Jos, Nigeria and Monrovia, Liberia in order to better facilitate HIV/AIDS treatment by parent organization Global Strategies. For more information, please visit http://www.hopefeeds.com. Nanci may be e-mailed at Nanci.Sebeniecher@HopeFeeds.org.