Medicines, medical supplies and equipment are always in short supply in the rural regions of sub-Saharan African countries, and with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing its spread throughout the continent these items are needed now more than ever.
This month, we are planning on shipping a 40-foot container full these life-saving supplies and materials to our partner in Sierra Leone, the United Methodist Church – Sierra Leone Annual Conference Health Board (UMC-SLAC HB) for distribution to its clinics and hospitals throughout the country.
This shipment will mark the second of such shipments this year of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of medicines and medical supplies for clinics and hospitals in communities such as Rotifunk, Kulanda Town, Manokoh, Taiama Town, and others which serve well over 50,000 indigent and low-income Sierra Leoneans every year.
With the coronavirus pandemic starting to spread in May, UMC-SLAC HB health coordinator Catherine Norman reported upon receiving the previous shipment that “The donated medicines and medical supplies were well-timed and with certainty the need was colossal and consequently produced a helpful effect to the eight CHASL health facilities at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone began in 1855, and 165 years later is still continuing its efforts to improve the lives of impoverished Sierra Leoneans in the areas of education, community development and especially health care.
(As an aside, we were saddened to learn that UMC Resident Bishop John Yambasu was tragically killed in an automobile accident in August while on his way to preach a funeral service for one of his ministers. He is greatly missed by the UMC community around the world and all Sierra Leoneans, and of course by all of us here at Bread and Water for Africa®.)
As the UMC-SL noted in May following our first shipment in 2020, the result has been an uninterrupted supply of drugs, making for the constant availability of essential medicines always at the ready and free for the impoverished, while maintaining a high standard of quality care.
This partnership has provided “immediate emergency care for thousands of vulnerable Sierra Leoneans who were in desperate need and experiencing life-threatening health conditions,” stated the UMC-SL.
And now, through the generosity and compassion of our supporters, hopefully soon another shipment will be arriving in the country for distribution to the clinics and hospitals where these supplies are needed most.
“Once more thank you for your continued support,” said Catherine.
Today, September 8, is the United Nations’ International Literacy Day which this year focuses on “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.” The theme highlights literacy learning in a lifelong learning perspective, and therefore, mainly focuses on youth and adults.
“The recent COVID-19 crisis have been a stark reminder of the existing gap between policy discourse and reality: a gap that already existed in the pre-COVID-19 era and negatively affects the learning of youth and adults, who have no or low literacy skills, and therefore, tend to face multiple disadvantages,” states the UN.
At Bread and Water for Africa®, for more than 20 years — long before the current coronavirus pandemic which is creating great educational hardships for children and youth throughout Sub-Saharan Africa — thanks to our supporters we have been providing educational opportunities for thousands of students, specifically in the area of literacy the foundation of learning, by constructing schools and classroom additions, as well as paying school fees for students who would otherwise have no opportunity for an education.
Over the years and decades, some 15,000 students have been able to attend schools we have constructed, such as the Kipkeino Primary School and the Kebeneti Secondary School in Kenya, as well as schools in Sierra Leone, and had their school fees paid in the knowledge that education is the key to their success in the future and a life out of dire poverty.
In addition, nearly 200,000 students in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and elsewhere have benefited from the tens of thousands of school and text books we have shipped to the libraries of dozens of schools and universities for use by students and faculty members since 2014.
Since the coronavirus began in March forcing countless schools throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, we have continued our mission of working with our partners in countries including Cameroon, Chad ,Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe to ensure children are able to continue their educations despite the massive challenges they face due to a lack of resources, persistent nationwide blackouts and no available internet service which creates not just a digital divide — but a digital chasm — that must be overcome.
Today, on International Literacy Day, we thank all of our supporters who made what we do possible, and continue to help us and our partners in our ongoing mission of educating children throughout the African continent regardless of the devastating pandemic.
Community members outside the Mokoba clinic wearing reusable face masks made by a local tailor with materials provided by Bread and Water for Africa.
Throughout the African continent, which had been spared thebrunt of COVID-19 pandemic in terms of confirmed cases and death as compared to the United States and Europe, the impact of the coronavirus is making a hard life for impoverished villages and the residents of urban slums even more so. But today, with already rampant inflation in countries where our partners work, such as Zambia and Zimbabwe making it harder and harder with each passing day to provide food to the children in their care, the coronavirus is making significant inroads.
Just over five months ago, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Africa, raising concerns about the continent’s readiness to handle an outbreak, reported the World Bank on August 25. By August 7, Africa’s case-count surpassed one million.
“The economic impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns and border restrictions have been severe, exacerbating poverty and social impacts,” stated the World Bank. “Compared with pre-crisis forecasts, COVID-19 could push 71 million into extreme poverty by the end of this year. More than a third of the projected poor will be in Sub-Saharan Africa which is facing its first recession in 25 years.”
At Bread and Water for Africa® we are doing all we can to provide emergency assistance to our partners in orphan care, the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Zambia, and Shinga Development Trust’s Lerato Children’s Village in Zimbabwe, Lewa Children‘s Home in Kenya, as well as continuing to provide medicines and medical supplies to our partners’ clinics and hospitals in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone – all thanks to our compassionate and generous supporters who make it possible
At Bread and Water for Africa®, we have been promoting foodself–sustainability in Africa for over two decades. The COVID-19 era has increased the need more than ever.
The COVID-19 outbreak in Zambia is having a devastating impact on the economy of the country, and on our longtime partner there, the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre.
Due to rampant inflation, the prices of staple foods increasesignificantly pretty much with each passing day, reports Kabwata founder and director Angela Miyanda.
“Prices of essential foods have gone up greatly,” says Angela who is struggling to keep those 32 girls and 18 boys currently living at Kabwata under her care fed, and additional 23 children living with extended family and foster care arrangements
“From the time of the infection in Zambia, the economy has not done well, leading to major problems for many families and charitable organizations. Some charities have since closed down for not have the vision of sustaining the program beyond donor funding.”
But Angela does have that vision.
Over the years, thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, we have been able to support projects leading to self-sufficiency, such as a fish farming project which provides fish for the children as well as generates income for the orphanage, as well as a banana plantation.
Now, Angela has another vision in mind, made particularly necessary at this time due to the coronavirus pandemic, to construct an 80mx40m greenhouse to grow crops including tomatoes, cabbages, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, onions, cucumbers and what she calls “local vegetables.”
In addition to the greenhouse, she is hoping to construct a chicken coop that will provide eggs for the children and for sale at the local market.
“The intention of having the greenhouse is to grow crops for long-term sustainability, and that will be beneficial to the children,” she explained. “This will help us to reserve funding for other needs such as education and healthcare.”
Angela has already drawn up plans for the proposed greenhouse including a budget of just under $10,000 for the aluminum structure, polythene for covering, sprinklers and accessories, and construction costs.
All she needs now is the funding to build it.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought sudden changes in the lifestyle of Zambia,” says Angela. “With the prices of essential commodities having gone up so much it has become hard for the orphanage to be buying these commodities for the children.
“It has always been the intention of the project to stand alone to avoid being dependent on donor support. We still believe to achieve this one day.
“Thank you, supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®
Although the global coronavirus outbreak has not struck Sub-Saharan African countries like Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe as hard as the United States and Europe, the impact is still being felt.
In Zimbabwe, Margaret Makambira, founder and director of the Lerato Children’s Village, struggles to feed the orphaned children in her care because of the country’s rampant inflation where prices for basic necessities including food continue to rise.
In Sierra Leone, with a population of nearly 8 million, there have only been 1,327 confirmed cases of coronavirus and a total of 55 deaths. That is no doubt due to the country’s experience in combating the deadly Ebola virus outbreak which devastated the country in 2014, along with the government’s quick action in calling for a state of emergency a week before the first case of COVID-19 was even confirmed.
As The New York Times noted, however, “This is not to say that Sierra Leone is certain to win the fight against the coronavirus,” pointing out that the government has acknowledged serious challenges, and that “the health system remains comparatively weak.”
According to the BBC, Zimbabwe has confirmed nearly 500 cases and just four deaths (but the actual number of cases is thought to be higher) as of June 20, but hunger is the primary concern for millions of Zimbabweans at the moment.
“Many people, including myself, are more afraid of hunger than the virus,” a vendor whose stall was closed by the government shutdown in the country told CNN. “Hunger is more lethal than the virus we cannot see.”
At Bread and Water for Africa®, we are thankful for our supporters, especially during this time. Because of them, thousands in Sierra Leone have food, and the children at the Lerato Children’s Village are able to go to bed each night with a full bellies.
Among our newest partners is the Rural Youth Development Organization Sierra Leone (RYDO-SL) which has been serving impoverished communities in the Bumpe Ngao Chiefdom of the Bo District in the country, including operating a health clinic and pharmacy in the village of Mokoba where medical care is drastically needed.
This spring, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, RYDO-SL program manager Joseph Ngoniyela Kobba contacted us with a request for face masks to protect staff and patients at the clinic, as well as for those in the local communities RYDO-SL serves.
However, instead of simply providing RYDO-SL with thousands of single-use face masks which would be discarded, we decided to go one better.
Thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide grant funding to RYDO-SL to purchase enough fabric and sewing machines to enable local tailors to generate income for themselves by making the 3,000 face masks to be distributed to RYDO-SL medical staff and vulnerable members of the community.