We all have those moments when we see a cause that needs attention, and think “I should do something about this,” but few of us act on that thought. That’s what makes Maria and Grant Groves stand out. After a trip to Kenya, they started the non-profit organization Feeding Mouths Filling Minds in 2012. When Maria was 20, she visited an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya on a service project that opened her eyes to challenges people face across the world. The widespread poverty she saw stayed in the back of her mind until she finally went back to visit that same orphanage years later with her husband Grant. This visit was different because the couple started talking about land use, how land use could improve food and water, and what the orphanage could do to optimize land use. “That’s how the organization got started,” says Maria.
FMFM focuses on sustainable food and water sources because if these basic needs are fulfilled, children are “able to turn their attention to filling their minds rather than worrying about filling their bellies,” as explained on the group’s website. Feeding Mouths Filling Minds has partnered with other organizations to build water wells in Liberia, farm ponds in Kenya, sustainable farming in Sierra Leone and so much more. With Maria’s unique skills in networking and fundraising, the organization is able to acquire funding to implement these projects. And with the help of their dedicated team, FMFM ensures that the projects continue to be successful by teaching local people in Africa how to carry out the programs.
Feeding Mouths Filling Minds has also started to focus on their local community in addition to their projects in Africa. They have partnered with Youth Outreach Service in Chicago to build an urban garden for at-risk youth, that will provide local teenagers with healthy food and teach them how to manage their own garden. FMFM is also in the process of launching a global students program that would ideally be part of the curriculum in Milwaukee schools. Under that program, kids would pick an African country to learn about and would complete academic components and required readings focusing on that country. Then the children would choose one of the FMFM projects and would come up with their own ideas to help with funding. The students would be connected with the children they are helping in Africa via email or mail. They would “really own it and be empowered through that entire project,” explains Maria.
So when you think to yourself “I should do something about this,” follow FMFM’s model and take action. The organization understands that children are our future, both in Africa and at home, and with their basic needs met, they can reach their full potential. Learn more about the organization on their website at www.feedingmouthsfillingminds.com