In January, thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, we were able to provide a grant to provide two meals each school day to 125 children attending the Seed School in the Nairobi slum of Kibera for the entire academic term.
But that was before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of schools throughout Kenya, including the Seed School, where these children not only got an education, but could count on having breakfast and lunch every weekday.
Seed Foundation director Patrick Odongo explained that the school “strives at transforming the lives of these children by offering them hope through education, and giving them regular meals while they are at school.
“The grant came in very handy to support our feeding program for the children whose parents can barely manage to provide food for their children,” he told us.
However, when midway through the term and the school was shuttered most of the families faced even more difficult times, but with the unused portion of the grant funding from Bread and Water for Africa®, they were able to provide regular food rations to many of them.
“This helped in feeding the children and keeping them healthy,” he said.
Thanks to our supporters, these 125 children, aged from 3 to 14 whose families are in dire need, not only receive the vital education they need to lift themselves out of unimaginable poverty they arrive at school each day eager to learn and secure in the knowledge they will not go hungry that day.
“In the long term, we are assured of transforming the lives of these children and thus working at breaking the cycle of poverty from the slum-up,” says Patrick.
Because the children receive daily, balanced meals of maize meal (cornmeal which is used to make the Kenyan staple, ugali), porridge, beans, rice, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, green vegetables and fruits, “this has prevented stunting and malnutrition,” he said.
“The feeding program ensures that there is constant class participation throughout the term,” Patrick reported. “When the children are assured of receiving regular meals at school their level of attendance increases.”
“Due to the high poverty levels in the slums of Kibera, most children living there are denied the major basic needs of life, which include a balanced diet and an education.
“The grant from Bread and Water for Africa® was able to fulfill the gap, feeding all the children in the school and giving multiple households the opportunity to live with lesser tension.
“The support from Bread and Water for Africa® comes in handy as a Godly-sent gift enabling the transformation of lives the dreams of children to become their reality.”
Thankfully, since Patrick submitted his report in September, Kenyan schools have recently reopened and children are back in class — and once again assured of getting the meals they need to be healthy, and happy.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”