July, 2023 – IIRR mourns the passing of its long-time friend, Florence Davis. Florence and her late husband, Tony Gooch, were enthusiastic supporters of IIRR and had visited IIRR project sites in Asia and Africa, meeting with farmers, herders, and fishermen in far-flung rural villages. Florence was always cheery and her compassion for the women and children shined through. She was an avid promoter of IIRR’s Goats for Girls program, which was replicated in several countries and which has achieved notable success, especially in Africa. She and Tony were also instrumental in establishing the IIRR Livelihood Learning Nature Discovery Center at the edge of a forest, where bio-intensive gardening practices were integrated with livestock raising. This Center was able to provide hearty native livestock, including pigs, goats, and chickens, to rural communities throughout the Philippines and has inspired tens of thousands of visitors.
In 2010, Florence received the Citizen of the World award from IIRR. In her remarks, Florence fondly recalled one of her visits:
“We saw bio-intensive gardens at schools where the children learn to build raised beds and to use compost — skills they take home to their parents. We sloshed out to a tilapia farm in the middle of a rainstorm, to see the fish fed with termite larvae from nearby tree stumps. We learned about a toddler supplemental food called Insumix, prepared using indigenous ingredients such as mung beans and tiny dried fish ground by hand and mixed with cooking oil and sugar, to halt malnutrition in children weaned too young. The women in the community in particular, most without much in the way of formal education, took their role in the community development efforts seriously and came into town to make formal presentations to us, in their best clothes and their carefully practiced English.”
IIRR’s Trustees, Staff, and the many rural communities we serve are grateful for the generous support from Florence and the philanthropic organization she headed, The Starr Foundation. We will miss Florence and the insights and passion she and Tony shared with us over the years. May they both rest in peace.
Emily SyCip Cheng (Board Chair) and Peter Williams (President)