If something works, such as how for years the Baraka Farm has been providing support to our longtime partner, the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya (founded by our international spokesperson Phyllis Keino), we strive to replicate it elsewhere in the sub-Saharan African countries where we work.
This is particularly true today as the coronavirus continues to plague countries including Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Sierra Leone where our partners operating children’s homes struggle to keep the orphaned and abandoned children in their care fed as rampant inflation is causing the prices of food staples to increase on practically a daily basis.
For example, the Baraka Farm not only provides food for the orphans and abandoned children who live at the Lewa Children’s Home but generates sales from its crops and dairy products which help enable it to be self-sufficient, thereby meeting our overarching goal for all our partners.
In the community of Rutile in Sierra Leone, Bread and Water for Africa® has been providing support to the Karen Baird Children’s Home (KBCH), which has been part of the our partner, Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO), establishment for many years.
This year, Bread and Water for Africa® is undertaking a similar food self-sustainability project to help FHDO cultivate approximately 220 acres of rice farmland and an additional 30 acres of cassava (both food staples in Sierra Leone).
Roughly 100 children orphaned and abandoned children call the KBCH their home, many of whom also attend the Logos Academy in Moriba Town, also through the support of Bread and Water for Africa®.
Phyllis describes the new project “a tremendous opportunity” for KBCH to not only create an extra source of income for the children’s home and generating a path towards self-sufficiency while providing a source of food for the children but also to utilize as a teaching and training model for the older youth living there.
Due the country’s current economic situation, and specifically the rural and impoverished district where the children’s home is located, providing food to feed some 100 children three healthy and filling meals three times each day is a considerable challenge, to say the least, and we are counting on our supporters to help us rise to that challenge.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the globe, and nowhere is the pain being felt more than in sub-Saharan African countries where healthcare facilities are sparse and lacking in basic medicines and supplies, governments lack the funds to adequately address the issue and hunger is even more prevalent, especially for the youngest.
But thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® we are working every day to help ease the uncertainty of where their next meal is coming from for thousands through our initiatives, such as the Karen Baird Children’s Home agricultural program.
From the earliest days of Bread and Water for Africa® our primary focus has been providing safe, loving homes for thousands of orphaned and abandoned children in Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and most recently, Sierra Leone. Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® these children’s basic needs were met no longer living in fear and uncertainty what the future might hold for them.
Lewa Children’s Home — Eldoret, Kenya
The Lewa Children’s Home was founded in partnership with Bread and Water for Africa® with Phyllis Keino, our international volunteer spokesperson, 1980s to provide a loving home for orphaned and abandoned children. Since that time, through our partnership and the generosity of our supporters, today Lewa is the home of about 100 children, many who arrive as infants and toddlers and spend their entire childhoods there where they receive loving care, three meals daily and a warm bed to sleep in every night, health care and an education to prepare them for a bright future ahead as successful adults.
Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre — Lusaka, Zambia
The Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre has partnered with Bread and Water for Africa® for more than two decades providing a loving home for orphaned children, many whose parents died from HIV/AIDS, some of whom were sadly born with the virus themselves and were shunned by their extended family members. Today, founder and director Angela Miyanda is continuing her mission of meeting the basic necessities of life for the approximately 60 children in her care, as well as more than 100 others in local community living with extended families or in foster care.
Lerato Children’s Village — Mutare, Zimbabwe
The Lerato Children’s Village was constructed a few years ago in partnership with Bread and Water for Africa® and our longtime partner Shinga Development Trust and its founder and director Margaret Makambira in response to the government’s new regulation that teenagers cannot be housed on the same facility as younger children. Today, these youth — no longer children, but not yet adults prepared to live on their own — are able to live in a home-like setting with house mothers and are able to continue their education while still receiving support for basic needs including food and shelter until they complete school and are able to become self-sufficient.
Karen Baird Children’s Home — Moriba, Sierra Leone
The Karen Baird Children’s Home, established in 2009, is among the newest partners of Bread and Water for Africa® and we are pleased to be able to join with them in their mission of providing orphans and vulnerable children in the community with a caring home and saving them from fending for themselves living on the streets. Today, it is home to more than 100 children who are relying on our supporters and our longtime partner in the country, Faith Healing Development Organization, to keep them fed and healthy through our support of a rice farm.
We know the coronavirus crisis spreads throughout the world, it is increasingly clear that people in Muleba, Tanzania with the least access to clean water will feel the most dramatic effects.
Action for Ngono Basin Reforestation (ACT-NGONO) in Muleba, Tanzania is among our newest partners at Bread and Water for Africa® and this year together we are embarking on a project to rehabilitate 20 non-functioning wells that long ago reached the end of their lifespan due to a lack of maintenance and repair.
“The scope of work involves the refurbishment of existing hand pumps including replacement of all the hand pump parts and implementation of water sustainability strategies by training pump technicians,” explained ACT-NGONO Executive Director Richard Bataringaya.
Richard told us that right now it’s the rainy season in Tanzania “and a number of people are attending to their gardens,” but he is hopeful that with their help of the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® we will be able to help so ACT-NGONO can start work in June on the 20 well projects.
Most of the villages in Muleba District, including Kishoju, Rwamilinga, Minziro and others are “water-stressed with the ratio of the number of working wells to populations served is quite low.”
Each of the 20 wells will serve residents within a reasonable distance – about one-half mile, compared to the several miles they must currently walk to fetch water from unsafe sites – and will have the capacity to ensure ready access to about five gallons per person, per day.
The selection of villages and wells is being done in collaboration with district government authorities from the rural water supply and sanitation department as well as health management teams.
“This involves visits to the villages to identify the communities within the project area which have the greatest need,” said Richard. “The criteria for assessments include ‘hard-to-service’ communities, current water sources available, population size, year-round access to safe water, and the status of ground water availability.
“We are looking for villages where there’s a great need for life-saving hygiene and sanitation practices, where people drink surface water, and where there is a prevalence of waterborne illnesses.”
In addition, there will be numerous other benefits to the villages served, says Richard.
“Many households which are spending money and time to transport water from far villages will be relieved of this burden. The extra time will be invested in agriculture for increased food security. The number of households that need to spend significant sums of money due to illnesses related to poor hygiene and sanitation will reduce.
“This will save more money and enable them to concentrate on developing their homes and communities
In addition, with hygiene and sanitation facilities closer to home, sanitation and proper hygiene practices to be introduced by health and hygiene trainers, there will be increased knowledge and behavioral change is expected which will result in more frequent handwashing and safe food handling.
And the educational impact for thousands of young girls will be immense as Richard notes, “Improved water sources give young girls a chance to attend school and receive a long term, consistent education.”
To prevent these wells from falling into disrepair again in the future, “It is crucial that community ownership is established for the sustainability of the refurbished wells. The sustainability of the wells will largely depend on the beneficiary community.”
To that end, local villagers who have accepted the responsibility will be trained in the maintenance and repair of the wells, and community members will agree to providing a small stipend – whatever they can afford, perhaps even a goat or a hen – for maintenance costs.
“The fees will create a sense of ownership by all in the community at large, and make it sustainable,” he says.
Richard projects that with the help of the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® by the end of the year (if not much sooner) that nearly 30,000 children, parents and elders will no longer have to risk their health, and even their very life, every time they take a drink of water from an unsafe source.
In the 46 countries of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) there are just over 1 billion people (14 percent of the world’s population), the vast majority in dire poverty which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Nigeria in February 2020, and today it has spread to all the countries in the SSA, according to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – Global Health Research Unit on Health System Strengthening in sub-Saharan Africa, King’s College, London
“A perfect storm is brewing, with high potential for COVID-19 transmission and very limited capability for effective clinical response,” states the NIHR, which has identified the five main reasons for this “perfect storm.”
The NIHR notes that the causes for the devastating impact in SSA countries are:
Poverty — with a high proportion of citizens living in “absolute poverty” who are “inadequately housed living in overcrowded conditions with unimproved water supplies and sanitation”.
Governments — which lack the ability “to respond robustly to a health emergency” and are “compromised by limited resources”.
Weak health systems — 41 SSA countries are in the bottom fifth of countries worldwide ranked by healthcare access and quality as “many governments in the region have underinvested in healthcare”.
Inpatient care — countries in the SSA lack the hospital beds necessary for severe cases requiring hospital admission, and critical cases requiring intensive care; and
Burden of underlying disease — which is much higher across SSA than in other world regions, “particularly among children and young adults. Of particular relevance are chronic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, as well as undernutrition which weakens immunity.”
At Bread and Water for Africa® for more than two decades we have been working to help alleviate all of those issues in countries including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa thanks to our supporters.
For example, we have, and are today, helping women farmers in Sierra Leone escape poverty and become self-sufficient by enabling them to grow crops on their small tracts of land to feed their families and sell at local markets.
In Cameroon, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda we are digging wells and protecting streams from contamination ensuring that thousands in remote villages have safe, clean water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing.
In Ethiopia and Sierra Leone, we are working with our partners who operate hospitals and clinics to provide them with the medicines and medical supplies, and equipment they need to treat the sick and injured.
None of what we do would be possible without the generous gifts from thousands of compassionate Americans from across the country who support Bread and Water for Africa® programs which have prevented and treated illnesses thereby saving the lives of untold thousands of children, young mothers, elders and so many others who would have surely perished needlessly.
Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, on this Sunday, May 9, sadly there are millions of children who do not have a mother to thank for bringing them into the world, feeding them when they’re hungry and comforting them when their sick, and most importantly, loving them with all her heart.
Perhaps their mother died in childbirth, and their infant son or daughter never even got to see their mother’s face. Maybe she died of a tragic disease such as HIV/AIDS, or malaria, an untreated waterborne disease from drinking contaminated water because she had no other choice. Or perhaps she was a young, teenage mother who was not prepared for the responsibility of raising a child on her own and simply abandoned their daughter or son.
Mother’s Day as we know it began in the early 20th century in the United States as a way to honor each individual mother, motherhood itself, the maternal bonds between mother and child, and the great influence mothers have had on society.
Today, Mother’s Day is celebrated each year on the second Sunday in May, not only in the United States but in countries throughout the world, including Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe where our partners operate children’s homes to give hundreds of children every year a place to live where they are loved and treated as family – because that is who they have become.
In Kenya, Phyllis Keino, founder and director of the Lewa Children’s Home and the international spokesperson of Bread and Water for Africa®, opened her home, and her heart, to the orphaned and abandoned children in her community of Eldoret more than 30 years ago.
And since that time, thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, her first compassionate step to help save but a few has grown into the children’s home which at any given time is home to roughly 100 little boys and girls, and teenagers on the verge of adulthood who have lived most, if not all, of their lives there.
Such is also the case in Zambia where our partner Angela Miyanda, founder and director of the Kabwata Orphanage & Transit Centre, provides a loving home for about 60 children, many of them whose their parents were victims of the AIDS epidemic – some tragically born with the virus themselves – found a home when others, even members of their own extended families shunned them and turned them away.
And in Zimbabwe, another of our longtime partners, Margaret Makambira, founder and director of the Shinga Development Trust and its Lerato Children’s Village, shares our mission of providing loving homes, three nutritious meals each day, and a warm bed to sleep in at night, medical care when they are sick and an education to give them hope for a brighter future.
In addition, in Sierra Leone where our partner Faith Healing Development Organization operates clinics with the primary focus of providing young mothers-to-be with the preventative care they need to have a successful birth, and then the follow-up care to ensure that both the mother and child are healthy and happy.
Over the past three decades Phyllis, Angela, and Margaret have become the “mothers” to thousands of children who have matured into successful adults under their caring and watchful eyes – a daunting, but a loving task made so much easier through the generosity of the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®.