Their names are Darrel, Ema, Makanaka, Nyarai and Margaret and they among the dozens of orphaned and abandoned African children who have found loving homes at children’s homes — Lewa Children’s Home in Kenya, Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Zambia, and the Lerato Children’s Village in Zimbabwe supported by Bread and Water for Africa®.
And thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® they have a warm bed to sleep at night with a full belly and no worries of where their next meal is coming from, health care and an education — an opportunity not just to survive, but to thrive.
With no one else in the world to care for these innocent children who only want a chance in life, there’s no telling what their fates would be, what kind of future they would have… or tragically, even if they would have a future at all.
At the Lerato Children’s Village, which was recently constructed by Bread and Water for Africa® with the help of our supporters, up to 10 children live in a home with a “house mother,” as required by law in Zimbabwe as opposed to a dormitory-style setting.
Although it is a positive for children to be cared for in a more home-like setting, the cost per child is higher and the rampant inflation in the country makes matters worse, but director Margaret Makambira is determined to carry on her mission despite the challenges.
During the past 20 years Margaret, Lewa executive director (and Bread and Water for Africa® international spokesperson) Phyllis Keino and Kabwata executive director Angela Miyanda would never have been able to care for more than 3,000 of their countries’ most vulnerable children without the generous financial assistance of our supporters.
And because of our supporters, 7-year-old Darrel, who had been abandoned by his mother and living on the streets, 6-year-old Ema, who was born with HIV and abandoned, 14-year-old Makanaka, whose mother died when she was four, 2-year-old Nyarai, whose mother had just died, and 6-year-old Margaret, who was found abandoned, severely malnourished and unable to hear or talk, have all found homes — and new “mothers” and “families” who love them dearly.
For many years, Richard “Dick” Landis has been partnering with Bread and Water for Africa® to help improve the lives of Kenyan children.
First was his support of the Lewa Children’s Home, the Kipkeino Primary School and Baraka Farm, all integrated under the direction of Bread and Water for Africa® international spokesperson Phyllis Keino.
A successful retired businessman and track coach, Landis and his wife, Toini, have committed the biggest part of his retirement to working in Kenya, so far making the 18-hour trip some 40 times, notes a 2017 article in the Cornell College alumni magazine, his alma mater.
As noted in the article, he and Toini created a foundation to support their efforts which is building a high school and medical clinic with one of his former runners, a tribal elder.
That school is Kebeneti Secondary School in the town of Kericho where Bread and Water for Africa® and Mr. Landis have been partnering together for the past few years, first getting the start-up school established and then working on improvements and upgrades year after year.
Kebeneti opened in 2015 with 50 students, and has new grown to an enrollment of 480, where girls outnumber boys 244 to 236.
That former runner and tribal elder, Titus Korir, noted that the opening of the school four years ago was necessary because there was no secondary school in the area forcing children who had graduated from primary school who lived in the community to walk many miles to the nearest secondary school to continue their education.
Since the opening of the school, Bread and Water for Africa® has teamed up with Mr. Landis to construct six classrooms, as well as the construction of a chemistry lab and physics lab, which we then equipped with modern equipment.
Mr. Landis was quick to recognize the generous contributions of Unilever and the Finley Trust who supporting equipping the labs. “They were very helping with the labs,” he told us.
To accommodate the rapidly growing student body population, we are now in the process of constructing four more additional classrooms.
Most recently, we have just completed the construction of a dining hall and kitchen which was celebrated in grand style with a ceremony commending Bread and Water for Africa® and Mr. Landis on November 24 with ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Mr. and Mrs. Landis.
In a card written by a student, the student wrote:
To Landis family,
Wow! Thank you for the lovely gift! Thank you for your kindness; thank you for being the person you are.
You are a person who makes life easier and better for everyone in need.
You put others before yourself, making us feel special and important! It is a privilege and a please to know you Bread and Water for Africa!
We appreciate you Bread and Water for Africa ®. We thank you Mr. and Mrs. Landis.
A plaque on the exterior of the dining hall, known as “Landis Hall,” states: “The construction of this hall was funded with donations from Mr. Richard Landis of Montana, USA, and Bread and Water for Africa. It was officially opened by Richard Landis and his wife Toini on Sunday, 24th November 2019.”
As Mr. Korir stated in his request for assistance in constructing the dining hall, “The dining hall and kitchen are essential as students are currently eating lunch outside and their meals are being cooked in temporary shade.”
He also noted in addition to having a place for the nearly 500 students to sit
down together at lunchtime, the hall will also be used for school assemblies and as a concert hall.
The Rural Youth Development Organization – Sierra Leone (RYDO-SL) operates the Mokoba Health Center in a rural region where most of the residents of the area are subsistence farmers with an average number of six children who struggle simply to survive on what they can grow.
“People living in this community are in the condition of extreme poverty, and consequently they have not [the] possibility of affording the cost of basic needs such as food, education and healthcare,” says program manager Joseph Ngoniyela Kobba, adding that 80 percent live in “absolute poverty, with income below $1 a day.”
Without access to the free clinic, parents seeking medical treatment for their children or themselves have no choice but to go untreated, or possibly worse as Joseph tells us that “for any chronic or severe diseases they have to depend solely on quacks.
“The quacks are not trained. They depend on limited indigenous knowledge.”
For those very few who have the means, and the strength, their only option is to travel long distances on rough roads to the nearest available clinic or hospital.
Joseph noted that this is especially dangerous for women about to give birth who cannot make it to a faraway medical facility “and are compelled to give birth under the open sky.”
However, Joseph is concerned the Mokoba clinic could be forced to shut down if necessary repairs are not made immediately.
“If the health center is not rehabilitated soon, the maternal mortality, child mortality and morbidity rates will begin increasing day after day,” he told us.
RYDO-SL was established in 1996 by a group of young men and women who wanted to contribute to their community through sustainable development and became officially registered as a Community Based Organization and recognized by the government of Sierra Leone.
The mission and goal of RYDO-SL is “To transform and revitalize the lives or the marginalized and oppressed populations in the communities” and “To rehabilitate a local referral facility providing emergency and immediate healthcare services for Mokoba and its environs.”
In addition to operating the Mokoba clinic, RYDO-SL promotes sustainable agriculture, women and youth empowerment, emergency relief and community rehabilitation projects.
Joseph explained that the need for a clinic is particularly critical in the Mokoba community where life expectancy, at 38 years compared with 45 years for the rest of the country (and compared to the worldwide rate of 71 years according to the World Health Organization) is the lowest in the world out of 183 countries.
The region also experiences high rates of endemic diseases, especially malaria, Typhoid fever, dysentery, yellow fever and HIV/AIDS, as well as from the Ebola virus outbreak of just a few years ago.
“Disease looms as a menace in the region,” says Joseph.
The nearest government hospital to Mokoba provides healthcare services “at a cost which is hard to afford by the rural people.
“Health is wealth, and for a community of 5,600 people if deprived of a free healthcare services will return to the service of quack treatment.
“With proper and adequate health delivery services at their disposal, the people of Mokoba and the four surrounding villages would in the long-term improve their living conditions.”
The people there had long lacked a health care facility in their community until 2000 when RYDO-SL constructed the health clinic, but now, almost 20 years later, the clinic building is in desperate need of rehabilitation, and the people it serves are in desperate need of continuing health care.
Joseph Ekidor is no longer a child at age 19, but a young adult looking to make his way in the world as he is on the verge of completing his secondary school education.
It’s a bright future made possible only through his hard work and determination, the loving home he found at the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya, and the generous and loyal supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who made it possible for him not only to attend school as a child, but complete his secondary school education.
He came from a family of five siblings being raised by their parents who, only working casual jobs when they could find work, could barely scrape by putting a roof over their heads and putting food on the table for all of them – much less pay for the education they knew their children would need to succeed, reported Lewa founder and director Phyllis Keino.
“His parents were not able pay for their children’s education as the little they earn is used for basic needs,” explained Phyllis. “Through the Lewa Children’s Home he has been provided with an education through the Bread and Water for Africa® school fee sponsorship program.”
Phyllis noted that his best subjects in the classes he attends at Sambut Secondary School in Eldoret are chemistry, physics and mathematics – which is a good thing as his dream is to pursue a career in medicine, a much-needed field in the developing country.
His teachers noted in his term one academic report that in the courses where he is struggling that the see the potential in him writing, “you are capable of doing better.”
As for Joseph himself, “I really appreciate the support that you have given me since I entered Form One (freshman year),” he wrote in a letter for the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who made it possible to attend secondary school.