Mr. Mandela with a child on his lap, talking to her. Taken during meetings about HIV/AIDS in November 2004. © NMF Photo/Oryx Media, Benny Gool.
Today, July 18, we commend the United Nations for recognizing the life and legacy of South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela.
“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life,” Mandela once so poignantly stated at the Live 8 concert in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 2, 2005, after serving as the first President of South Africa.
At Bread and Water for Africa®, for more than 20 years, we have strived to work together with our partners in Sub-Saharan Africa including Kenya, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Zambia, Zimbabwe and elsewhere to do just that.
The purpose of Nelson Mandela International Day is to reflect upon the struggle apartheid and the campaign for Mandela’s release from prison in which the UN played an important role and initiated the first commemorative Mandela Day in 2010.
On this day today and every year, we invite you to join with the UN and us to mark Nelson Mandela International Day by making a difference not only in your own communities, but in those halfway around the world such as Eldoret, Kenya, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Mutare, Zimbabwe and so many others.
“Everyone has the ability and responsibility to change the world for the better! Mandela Day is an occasion for all to take action and inspire change,” states the UN.
The supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who have so generously embodied that sentiment are taking action and inspiring change in the lives of the thousands of children who have they have given opportunity to go to school, grow up healthy in loving homes, and so much more.
And as Mandela stated at that Live 8 concert:
“While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.
The Faith Healing Agricultural Project (FHAP) is an offshoot of the longtime partner of Bread and Water for Africa®, Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO) in Sierra Leone and operates with mission of helping small farmers achieve food security.
FHAP does this in several ways including providing these farmers, the vast majority of whom are women, with materials to help them getting off to a good growing season with quality seeds and planting materials.
In addition, FHAP provides the farmers with hands-on training at its demonstration farm, an established support network and even helps them to prepare their land for planting.
FHAP is making a huge difference in the lives of these women farmers, notes FHDO executive director Rev. Francis Mambu.
During the last planting season, over 78 bushels of rice was planted, he reported. The yield was 806 bushels – a return of more than 10 times!
“From the yield during the last planting season, we were able to support about 330 women farmers in different villages,” said Rev. Mambu, adding, “It is also worth noting that the project distributed rice to vulnerable women in the communities to feed themselves and their families.”
Rev. Mambu and FHAP have also been recognized from the highest levels of the government of Sierra Leone for their efforts.
“The Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Professor Monty Jones thanked FHAP and its partners for the laudable strides they are making in the country, noting that the FHAP rice project is the largest in the entire country,” said Rev. Mambu.
Rev. Mambu noted in the 2018 FHAP Annual Report that about 75 percent of all Sierra Leoneans are engaged in agriculture in one way or another, accounting for approximately 40 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
“Agriculture is the daily life occupation of most of the people in Sierra Leone, especially for those residing in the rural areas,” he said.
Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, 315 women were provided with micro finance loans to start their own farming businesses for seed loans and also received technical assistance for their farms.
The women farmers reside in the Yankansa village area in the Bombali District in the northern region of the country which suffered greatly during the decade-long civil war in the 1990s when farms and farming equipment was destroyed.
The land is fertile for farming, and the weather is favorable for crops to thrive, but Rev. Mambu and the women he helps continue to face great challenges.
“The people living in Yankansa and other surrounding villages are poor – they don’t have the money to invest in agricultural activities,” he told us. “Even though almost all of these people are engaged in farming, their output is small because of the lack of funds for expansion.”
For the future, Rev. Mambu and FHAP will continue to empower women in villages throughout the Yankansa community.
“These women groups are doing well and their farms are expanding,” he told us. “Hopefully in the next planting season more women groups will be able to register for support.
“Our deep appreciation goes out to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® for their support of FHAP for touching the lives of Sierra Leoneans striving to make better lives for themselves and their families.”
Do the math: 567 boxes + one 40-foot shipping container holding 35,000 pounds of books = 50,000 Ugandan school children in 150 rural schools given the opportunity to not only learn to read, but also develop a lifelong love of reading and learning.
This summer, thanks to our supporters, we were able to do just that. Through our partnership with Books for Africa and Bega kwa Bega (BkB) (Shoulder to Shoulder) for Uganda Orphans, these 50,000 children will have access to more than 20,000 books, including picture and story books for the youngest, and science, math, social studies, health and art textbooks for the older students.
“Most children find it difficult to learn and master reading skills in English due to a lack of books,” says BKB Founder and Director Conche McGarr, who added that the storybooks with colorful pictures will attract young readers “to develop an interest in reading at an early age.”
Conche also noted that the books will benefit the teachers as well who will be coached on how to use the books to the help their students improve their literacy in a country where half the adult population is illiterate.
“Our schools rarely get such an opportunity,” she told us. “Therefore, this donation will be unforgettable in the lives of the beneficiaries and who will be forever grateful for this kindness.”
There is nothing we like more at Bread and Water for Africa® than to see a project we have funded come to fruition and be successful.
Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre’s first fish harvest.
Such is the case of the fish farm we constructed for the Kabwata Orphanage & Transit Centre in Zambia. For the past year, we have worked with our partner there Angela Miyanda from when she first proposed the project which would provide thousands of fish for the children of the orphanage as well as generate a self-sustaining revenue source for Kabwata by selling thousands more annually.
Zambians love fish, eating it every day for at least one meal, and tilapia is among the most popular as it is fast-growing, and tasty.
Today, we have come from when a tilapia farm was just a dream in Angela’s mind to the reality of the first harvest with 70 percent being sold to stores in the capital city of Lusaka, and the other 30 percent set aside for the children.
In just a few months, the small tilapia fry have grown to full size and Angela’s crew have been able to harvest them from the two ponds as they prepare for the next batch.
Angela, who also oversees a banana plantation which supplies bananas to the orphans as well as generating a revenue stream for the orphanage, told us at the time of the construction of the fish ponds that “depending on the outcome of the fish project, we may shift into full time fish farming as it is proving to be less labor intensive.”
She also noted that Zambia has been blessed with many rivers and lakes stocked with a lot of fish, however due economic challenges facing the country people are taking fish of all sizes with no exceptions for the smallest ones who have not attained full size.
Even with a ban that is imposed on Zambians from December to March every year that is designed to help the fish breed, it does not help as many continue to harvest fish illegally, Angela told us.
“Fish farming is new for Zambia,” she said, adding “The community is excited with fish farming because it will be sold in the local community.”
As we seek to do with all our partners, by providing funding for capital projects such as fish farming ponds, we are leading them on a path to self-sufficiency, not perpetual reliance.
And thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide the seed money for the ponds which will provide great returns for the children of Kabwata for many years to come.