Although Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, that does not mean that dozens of children living at the Lewa Children’s Home do not have plenty to be thankful for every single day.
Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, and of course “Mama” Phyllis Keino who decades ago began taking orphaned and abandoned children into her home, and eventually founding what was to become the Lewa Children’s Home.
It is because of Phyllis and our supporters that these vulnerable children get to eat three healthy, filling meals daily, have a warm bed to sleep in every night, and have the opportunity to attend school and build a pathway towards a brighter future.
It is also because of Phylllis’ vision to build a children’s home, the KipKeino Primary School, and the Baraka Farm which provides the children with nutritional milk and dairy products for strong bones, maize and vegetables to ensure they receive the nutrition they need for a healthy life.
Among those who has most to be thankful for is Brian who has spent most of his young life at Lewa, thriving under Phyllis’ loving care.
“In this home I have it very good because of the love offered to me,” says Brian. “I would like to thank Mama Phyllis Keino for her support in my education and home. May God bless the work of her hands. Thank you.”
At Bread and Water for Africa® we know a good investment when we see it – and so does our partner in Zambia, Angela Miyanda, founder and executive director of the Kabwata Orphanage & Transit Centre. As with all our partners such as Lewa Children’s Home in Kenya, which receives food and revenue from its Baraka Farm, we strive to help them develop revenue generating operations so that they can ultimately become financially self-sufficient. Several years ago, Angela developed a banana plantation to both provide food to feed the children and also raise money to support the orphanage and make it less reliant on outside donations. The banana plantation has been a success, and over the years she has been able to double its size. But she also realized that revenue from the sales bananas is not going to make enough money to make Kabwata fully self-sufficient so about two years ago she came up with a novel idea – to raise fish in man-made ponds. We at Bread and Water for Africa® agreed with Angela’s vision that raising fish – fast-growing tilapia, which is a staple in Zambia – had great potential. And boy, was she right! More than 5,000 tilapia were harvested in the very batch which grew to maturity in about four months in two ponds, and thousands and thousands more were raised in subsequent harvests. With that proven success, Angela came back to Bread and Water for Africa® with a request for capital funding to construct two more fish ponds in order to be able to double the fish harvest within less than year. Thanks to our supporters, we have now embarked on the construction of two more fish farm ponds, which will double the harvest within the next year and for many years to come as Kabwata continues its process towards self-sufficiency.
Ever since mankind made the transition from hunter-gatherer to agrarian society about 10,000 years ago, most of the world’s population relies on farming and other agricultural activities for food.
In many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Zambia many millions are reliant not just on farms for food, but must rely on themselves to grow enough food for themselves and their families, and hopefully have surplus crops to be able to sell at local markets.
The challenges for these small-holder farmers, a large percentage of them women, are many and great – especially regarding having adequate rainfall during the growing season in these times of climate change which cause extensive drought leaving farmers with nothing as all they can do is watch the crops wither and die.
But in these countries Bread and Water for Africa® has been working for two decades to support agricultural programs leading to food self-sufficiency and economic independence on both large and small scale projects.
For example, in Kenya, working with our longtime international spokesperson Phyllis Keino and Jos Creemers, manager of the Baraka Farm, over more than 20 years we have been witness to their efforts in transforming 500 barren acres into a thriving agricultural and dairy producing operation which supports Phyllis’ mission as director of the adjacent Lewa Children’s Home.
In Sierra Leone, after years of a brutal civil war and the tragic, deadly Ebola outbreak in 2014/15, Bread and Water for Africa® longtime partner there, Rev. Francis Mambu, director of the Faith Healing Development Organization, is not daunted – in fact he is more determined than ever to restore agricultural production to his country.
Bread and Water for Africa® supports FHDO’s own large-scale rice farming operations through the purchase of farming equipment including tractors and more recently following the Ebola outbreak when farming activities all but ceased in the country, thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide Rev. Mambu with a rice planter/harvester which allowed him to greatly increase production on his land.
In addition, through FHDO programs, Bread and Water for Africa® has provided support to hundreds of small holder farmers – again almost all women struggling to raise their children – by providing seeds and seedlings for plants such as groundnuts (peanuts) at the start of the growing season.
Most recently we are working on a program to provide women with cassava (yucca) plants which, when mature, they sell to a processing plant owned by FHDO which converts the cassava into flour. The women then buy the flour at wholesale prices which they sell at their local markets – in effect making two profits on the same product.
In Zambia, Bread and Water for Africa® supports the efforts of our partner there the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre to have a banana plantation to support the orphanage, similar to the model created by Phyllis for Baraka Farm and Lewa Children’s Home. The banana plantation, started in 2007, was so successful that a few years later Bread and Water for Africa® provided funding for Kabwata director Angela Miyanda to double the size of the planation.
Then, in 2015, Angela came up with the idea to expand her food producing activities with pisciculture, more commonly known as “fish farming.” Bread and Water for Africa® provided her the “seed” money to construct ponds each containing 3,000 tilapia fish which mature in 90 to 120 days not only providing fish for the children, but making thousands of dollars in profits annually.
And in Zimbabwe, Bread and Water for Africa® partner, Shinga Development Trust, is not set up using modern farming mechanisms such as Baraka Farm, but instead utilizes a more traditional farming method known as “Farming God’s Way.”
As explained by Shinga director Margaret Makambira, “Farming God’s Way” stresses teacher farmers to build a sustainable farming method by managing the land, maintaining minimum wastage, no ploughing, and rotation of the crops.
From large scale modern farming to assisting small holder farmers subsisting on the small tracts of land, Bread and Water for Africa® places a high value on agricultural programs, and rightly so as so many lives depend on the success of farmers, big and small.
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.
The proverb may be a cliché, but that does make it untrue to say “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
In Zambia, that’s exactly what Bread and Water for Africa® partner Kabwata Orphanage & Transit Centre is proposing to do, albeit on a much larger scale.
Angela Miyanda, director of the Kabwata Orphanage, founded the home in 1998 out of compassion for vulnerable and disadvantaged children in Zambia to provide them basic necessities of life.
“Through the provision of education, shelter, health, nutrition, love and security we try to help the children reach their full potential in life,” says Angela.
To assist in the funding of the orphanage leading to self-sufficiency, she has created a banana plantation, which has expanded over the years because of its success and competent management, as well as a vegetable garden.
“Our long term goal is to achieve self-sufficiency,” said Angela. “In order to do this we plan to expand our income generating projects.”
But now, Angela is busily working on another income-generating project with help from Bread and Water for Africa® – fish farming.
The short, medium and long term goals for the fish farm is to first learn the guidelines to dig a fish pond and gain experience in its operation and then expand from there.
In addition, Angela notes that some of the older children at Kabwata will be included in the project for training as preparation for the time when they move out of the orphanage.
Angela said she has already acquired the land, and that it only takes a week to actually dig the pond, another 10 days to prepare the ponds for stocking and that the time to harvest will be between 90 and 120 days.
Angela is proposing two dig two ponds that will contain 3,000 fish each with additional stocking to occur at six-week intervals for continuation and projects making between $8,000 and $10,000 annually in profits.
In total, Angela estimates the fish ponds will result in the production of 24,000 fish annually. About a third of the fish –8,000 – will be used to feed the children at the orphanage, with the other two-thirds being sold at local markets to raise operating funds for Kabwata towards its goal of reaching self-sufficiency.
She has also already established a relationship with various shops that sell farm produce every day and they will be able to get from the project.
Initially, a group of six people will be necessary to operate the fish farm, as well as a farm manager with experience in fish farming and a supervisor with knowledge of water reticulation.
In requesting grant funding to dig the ponds, Angela comments that Kabwata has been a partner with Bread and Water for Africa® since inception.
“Today we look back at the many achievements and we are amazed at what faithfulness can be when two partners come together for the assistance of vulnerable people,” she said.
“We are aware, that with time, the project will need to stand on its own for its continuity. The time is getting close and indeed we are getting ready to be weaned.
“Words will never be enough to pay our gratitude to the entire team of Bread and Water for Africa®. Children in the project have made higher than they ever expected. They are a testimony of what love can do.
“Thank you Bread and Water for Africa®. We will never disappoint you.”