18-year-old Ann Tiyaa is a Form Four (senior) at Sambut Secondary School in Eldoret, Kenya, who has made great strides in her life.
For one thing, she has accomplished something only few children and youth are able to do in Kenya – attend 12 years of school and poised to graduate with a bright future ahead of her.
This would not have been possible for this orphaned young woman who first found a home in the loving arms of Phyllis Keino at the Lewa Children’s Home, and then began her education as a young child 12 years ago and steadily progressing through each grade, without the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who made it possible for Phyllis to pay her school fees.
“She was born and raised in a family of four children before her mother’s demise,” reported Phyllis. “She was an orphan so she was raised up in the Lewa Children’s Home.”
Phyllis has full faith in Ann who has already demonstrated in her young life that she has the will and determination to succeed at anything she puts her mind to.
“She is working hard to achieve her dream of becoming a journalist, and her best subjects are business studies, languages and history,” added Phyllis.
In her term one academic report, her teacher expressed encouragement to Ann to “put more effort” into the subjects where she has been struggling in the knowledge that “you have the potential.”
As for Ann herself, she is grateful and appreciative of the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® school fee assistance program. In a letter of appreciation she wrote this to those who made it possible for her to continue her education to its completion:
“It is my pleasure to thank my sponsors for their efforts, and good hearts.
“If not for your support, I could not have reached where I am today or even have visions and missions…or even become the person that I am today.
“I promise you that I am going to do my best and make you proud at the end of this year. Words cannot express my gratitude. Only God knows what is in my mind.
“May God bless you very abundantly.”
We at Bread and Water for Africa® began to get to know him as a 2-year-old toddler when he was brought to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya, and into the loving arms of Lewa founder and executive director Phyllis Keino after being abandoned by his mother.
Even at that tender age, Phyllis, who has become known as “mother” to hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children and who all have a special place in her heart could tell there was something exceptional about Emmanuel.
15 years ago, Emmanuel arrived at Lewa with his older brother and sister, and it didn’t take long for them to become a part of the Lewa family, and for Phyllis to become the only mother he has ever known.
While most children in Kenya, and throughout the African continent for that matter, want nothing more than to be able to go to school in the knowledge that getting an education is their only chance out of a life of dire poverty, for Emmanuel, it was not just attending school – but excelling the classroom – that was his passion.
Emmanuel attended Kip Keino Primary School from Nursery to Jr. High, and in 2015, as an eighth grader, Emmanuel tackled his biggest challenge yet by scoring among the best and brightest throughout the entire country in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations (similar to the SAT for high school students in the United States).
It is especially tragic for those who have the ability and determination but lack the money for school supplies and uniforms and have no choice but to take menial low-wage jobs to help support their families and themselves.
While of course we cannot say what was going through Emmanuel’s mind as he filled out his application for Kapsabet High School, we must assume it was with hopeful optimism. Kapsabet is one of the most prestigious high schools in the country whose alumni include Daniel Arap Moi, the second president of Kenya.
The odds against him being accepted to Kapsabet – (where only 300 new students are accepted each year – out of an application pool of 60,000!) – were long, but as his acceptance to the class of 2019 illustrates, not insurmountable.
For Emmanuel, beating those seemingly overwhelming odds was not a matter of luck, but a testament to his ability, and his steady belief that he can do whatever he sets his mind to.
Four years later, we have just received word from Phyllis that Emmanuel is headed to Taita Taveta University in Mariwenyi, Kenya – on a full scholarship!
Taita Taveta University, a non-profit public higher education institution accredited by the Commission for University Education of Kenya, is described as “A Premier Institution in Education, Training, Research, Innovation And Community Outreach.”
Beginning in August, Emmanuel will begin his studies, majoring in agribusiness; a vital field on the African continent as noted by a recent report by the World Bank on “Agribusiness Indicators: Kenya” which states:
“The importance of agriculture in the economies of sub-Saharan African countries cannot be overemphasized.
“With agriculture accounting for about 65 percent of the region’s employment and 75 percent of its domestic trade, significant progress in reducing hunger and poverty across the region depends on the development and transformation of the agricultural sector.
“Transforming agriculture from largely a subsistence enterprise to a profitable commercial venture is the prerequisite and driving force for accelerated development and sustainable economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
We have no doubt that one day in the not-too-distant future, Emmanuel – the same 2-year-old helpless child abandoned by his mother – will be leading the way as a driving force in helping to reduce hunger and poverty, perhaps even at the Baraka Farm right next to the Lewa Children’s Home where he grew up.
Despite all Emmanuel has accomplished, we know he will never forget those who helped him attain the success he has achieved today – namely Phyllis, and the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®. Without them, he would not have had a home, much less an education.
Upon his acceptance to Kapsabet in 2015, he expressed his sincere gratitude in a letter to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® writing:
“I write this letter to really appreciate for sponsoring me – for if it wouldn’t have been for you, I wouldn’t be where I am.
“This comes from the bottom of my heart. I promise to work hard at school and post good results as hard work pays.
“Moreover, I promise to not let you down.”
The town of Mariwenyi is 400 miles, a 12-hour bus ride on the rutted Kenyan roads, from Lewa where he grew up, but a world away from how his life began and how we are certain it will evolve.
For one brief, heartbreaking period in their young lives all that the three brothers Wilson, Samuel and Joseph had was themselves after unbelievably being abandoned by their mother.
And it was on a dark, rainy evening in Kenya when a neighbor heard their desperate crying that a concerned, compassionate neighbor came to their rescue.
Though she tried to locate the boys’ mother, she was nowhere to be found – and with nowhere else to turn, the woman brought Wilson, Samuel and Joseph into the loving, welcoming arms of Phyllis Keino, the founder and director of the Lewa Children’s Home, a longtime partner of Bread and Water for Africa®.
“On arrival, they were weak, hungry and very malnourished,” Phyllis told us. “They came with many ailments.”
In addition, never having been to school, they could neither read nor write and showed signs of being mentally challenged.
Phyllis does not select the orphaned and abandoned children who are brought to her. Whether this is by government officials, the police because their parent(s) are in prison, or caring citizens, she instantly gives them her love as if each is one of her own, because from that moment on they are.
The horrors of their past lives are thankfully unknown, but what is known is that these three boys have a present filled with a love they have likely never known, the basic necessities of life including health care and an education, and hope for a long life and a bright future – thanks to Phyllis and the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®.
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.”