What TFWA Care did for... Helen Keller International

Originally founded in 1915 to help veterans blinded during World War I, Helen Keller International is a non-profit organisation helping to prevent blindness and combat malnutrition across the world.

TFWA Care has helped HKI fund a number of important projects. In 2013, the support of the Association enabled the purchase of a much-needed diode laser to allow doctors in Burma to conduct simple – but sight-saving – operations to treat glaucoma. In 2014 and 2015, TFWA Care has supported two of HKI’s flagship Enhanced Homestead Food Production programmes (EHFP) to radically improve food security and nutrition in Son La Province, Vietnam and in Sylhet, Bangladesh. 

Project in 2016

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a significant cause of blindness in middle and low income countries, affects immature vasculature in the eyes of low-birth-weight, premature babies causing new blood vessel formation (neovascularization), and leads to retinal detachment and irreversible blindness. All preterm babies born before 32 weeks of gestation, weighing less than 1,500g and exposed to the toxicity of supplemental oxygen from the incubator, are at risk of ROP. Because retinopathy progresses sequentially, a timely screening and laser treatment within 3 days of birth will reduce the risk of visual loss. Laser surgery not only halts disease progression but also leads to good visual outcome. In industrialized countries, screening and surgery are commonly carried out by pediatric eye-specialists in every neo-natal unit.


Mandalay, the second largest city in Myanmar, has a neonatal ICU with 10 incubators and has about 100 neonates hospitalized per week. Having heard that the Yangon Eye Hospital received a diode laser thanks to TFWA Care and HKI in 2013 along with additional probes and delivery systems to treat ROP in 2015, Mandalay Eye Ear Nose Throat Hospital has asked for similar equipment to be able to treat ROP and other retinal conditions.


Thanks to TFWA Care, that equipment will be delivered in 2016.


This is a beautiful story about HKI's effort in Son La Province, Vietnam, to help people improve their food security and nutrition. The story also narrates existing living conditions and people’s hope for the future.

For over 20 years, HKI’s flagship EHFP in Asia has helped communities establish technically-improved local food production systems by creating farms yielding micronutrient-rich fruits and vegetables throughout the entire year, complemented by the improved rearing of poultry and livestock, and more recently fish.


The core objective of EHFP is to improve the livelihood, food security, and nutrition of poor households, particularly among women and children. The program provides low-income households with initial farming inputs, such as quality seeds, seedlings and saplings of vegetables and fruits, as well as quality breeds of improved local poultry/livestock.


In 2014, TFWA Care supported "Improved Household Food Security and Nutrition through EHFP in Son La Province, Vietnam”, a project designed to address the 28% poverty rate and the 30% underweight rate of children under 5 years of age recorded in the district.

The video reviews the Meeting for the second year of HKI Homestead Food Production Program (HFP) project in Son La.


In 2015, in Bangladesh, TFWA Care supported "Food and Agriculture Approaches to Reducing Malnutrition” (FAARM), a project implemented by HKI in partnership with the University of Heidelberg and Voluntary Association for Rural Development. The prevalence of malnutrition in rural Bangladesh is among the highest in the world, and women and children in Sylhet are among the most vulnerable. Sylhet lags behind in almost all indicators related to food security and nutrition. This includes the country’s highest rates of child stunting (50% versus 41% nationally), highest rates of undernourished adolescent girls and mothers (with particularly high levels of stunted adolescent girls and adult women at risk of complicated deliveries), the least diverse and nutritious diets and the worst maternal and child care and nutrition practices.

Poor food security and nutrition indicators are accompanied by, and likely linked to, low levels of women’s empowerment. Sylhet has Bangladesh’s lowest proportion of women who can make decisions about their own earnings, go alone or with a child to a health facility, or report that they alone or jointly have the final say in decisions about their own healthcare, major and routine household purchases and children’s healthcare.

FAARM (2015-2019) is a comprehensive intervention with a focus on nutrition aiming to advance women’s empowerment, increase household income, food security, women’s and children’s nutritional status and health. FAARM employs HKI’s well-established homestead food production (HFP) approach, which includes intensive skill-building in agricultural production, poultry rearing, nutrition education and marketing, accompanied by transfer of productive assets. The skill building focused on improved production techniques such as integrated pest management, organic fertilizer, and intercropping, as well as poultry rearing techniques such as the use of improved poultry sheds and creep feeding. The project also worked with communities to establish marketing groups, through which project participants worked together to sell surplus produce. The marketing component of the project provided a channel for women to sell these surplus food products, thereby allowing them to participate in local market systems and earn an income that can then be used to purchase additional food beyond what is produced at the homestead level.

While the effectiveness of HFP is widely recognized, the global community still lacks empirical evidence about its health impact. Specifically, there is a lack of well-designed studies on the precise role that elements of multifaceted HFP interventions play in determining positive nutrition outcomes and on their impact on childhood stunting. To address this gap and contribute to the global evidence base around agriculture-nutrition linkages, FAARM has a robust research component including a randomly selected control group.