by Rona Berg

A global partnership provides targeted nutrition to families in need
When Jessica Mulligan, VP of sales and marketing for Neocell, traveled to the Peruvian Andes earlier this year, it was hard to say who received the greater gift: the villagers who were given donations of crucial life-saving nutritional supplements, or Mulligan herself. “It was life-changing,” she says. “It makes you appreciate what you have, and it puts everything in perspective.”
Mulligan was part of a small delegation of filmmakers, translators, representatives from other donor companies and the nonprofit, Vitamin Angels. They partnered with Desea Peru, a local NGO that goes into remote mountain villages 11,000 to 14,000 feet up in the Andes, and provides clean water, education and health care to villagers. The delegation was based in Pisac, where access to medical attention can be a two- to three-hour walk away. At that altitude, it is difficult to farm, and the dominant crop is potatoes.
“I thought the kids were much younger than they are because they’re so severely malnourished,” says Mulligan. “Their growth gets stunted because they don’t have the nutrients they need to grow. Vitamins are saving lives and breaking the poverty cycle by improving the cognition of the kids so they can do better in school,” she continues.
“When you start a long-term partnership with Vitamin Angels, they take you into the field so that you can see what this money is actually doing,” says Mulligan. “And once you do, you never want to stop giving.”
Neocell’s goal last year was to raise $50,000, by partnering with retailers and donating a percentage of sales. But they far surpassed that by raising $192,000, which helps provide supplements, and other assistance, especially for pregnant women and children in need. “Women told us, while taking prenatal vitamins, it was the first time they carried their babies to term,” says Mulligan. “These babies were born a full kilo bigger than their other children.”
Vitamin Angels, a nonprofit, nonsectarian, international aid organization, was founded by Howard Schiffer in 1994. By end of 2014, Schiffer says, “I’m proud to say that we are working to reach 40 million children in about 45 countries including the U.S. with a full-time staff of almost 30.” neocell.com/outlook_giving.php#vit_angel

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