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®.
Corn, or maize as it’s known in Kenya, is a staple food for the residents of the East African country. The maize is grounded into flour to make ugali (imagine grits cooked to the consistency of Playdough). The ugali is eaten with sukuma wiki (collard greens braised with tomatoes, onions and spices) pretty much every day.
In fact, millions of children, such as those living at the Lewa Children’s Home, say they don’t feel full after a meal if it doesn’t include a hearty serving of ugali.
Each year, the Baraka Farm plants acres and acres of maize which helps keep the bellies full for the orphans at Lewa. The maize also provides feed for the farm’s dairy cows which also provide milk, cheese and more for the children.
We are proud of our longtime support to provide a loving home for hundreds of orphaned, abandoned and destitute children at Lewa over the years. We are also proud to assist the Baraka Farm in its mission to providing food for the children, but also generate profits to offset the cost of operating the children’s home.
Our International Spokesperson Phyllis Keino, founder, and director of the Lewa Children’s Home also founded the Baraka Farm with the goal of ultimately making the children’s home self-sufficient.
Phyllis, who has helped raise hundreds of orphans into successful adults over the years, is “mother” to the 126 children living there presently.
In addition to providing corn, milk and more Phyllis notes that the farm does much more for the growing children.
“It has also helped instill in the children a good work ethic and teach them the farming skills that are so necessary in a country like Kenya,” she told us.
To those who have supported us with their generous gifts over the past two decades enabling us to assist Phyllis in her mission, she has these heartfelt words:
“Your generous support has helped provide food, healthcare, clothing and education to poor children like Emmanuel, Otieno, Victoria, Lillian, and so many others – children you will never meet…living halfway around the world in dire conditions.
“You have done this with unconditional love, as if they were a member of your family.
Phyllis Keino, our international spokesperson and founder and director of the Lewa Children’s Home in Kenya, is the mother to more than 235 orphans – including one little girl named Sheba who is almost 10 years old.
Sheba was born with physical deformities of her hands and legs and abandoned when she was 1-year-old. She was suffering from malnourishment, pneumonia and sickle cell anemia. After being brought to Lewa and nursed back to health, it was discovered that she is also deaf and mute.
Today, thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, Phyllis told us that Sheba is “a joyous girl who always has a hug to spare”. She always has a smile on her face and a happy outlook on life. She integrated into the school community where she is treated no different from other students. Sheba attends classes at a specialized school for the hearing impaired, ensuring that she will have every opportunity for success as she overcomes her challenges in life.
Thousands of children living in rural Kenya are considered fortunate to be able to attend school. But many of them live miles from their school, and of course, there being no school buses to carry them back and forth, some walk 10 miles round trip, or even more.
However, a large percentage of them, proudly wearing their school uniform, must walk that distance barefoot.
Not only must they dodge sharp rocks that can cut their tiny feet, they must walk on hot, hard dirt paths during the dry season, and navigate puddles and deep mud when the heavy rains come.
But all for the lack of a pair of shoes, these children are risking serious illness and even death with every step they take.
Parasitic worms such as roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms can cause soil-transmitted disease, which the World Health Organization notes that “are among the most common infections worldwide and affect the poorest and most deprived communities,” such as villages in rural Kenya.
In addition, by walking barefoot children can become infected by the burrowing Tunga flea, known as a “jigger” in Kenya, a debilitating foot parasite which makes walking practically unbearable preventing thousands of children from attending school.
To address this severe health-related issue, we started a “Shoes for Kenya” program to provide thousands of children with a pair of shoes – likely the first pair they’ve ever owned – so they can walk to school safely.
Earlier this year, we ran pipes from a clean water source about two miles away from the Kebeneti SDA Dispensary in Kericho, Kenya so it would no longer have to rely on rainwater collected in storage tanks and now have access to all the water they need for patients, staff, and to keep the facility clean.
However, what remained lacking was hot water, meaning that they had to boil water for sterilization, washing, and bathing.
The good news for the clinic, located in the highlands west of Rift Valley about 25 miles from the equator, is that sunshine is abundant throughout the year.
To remedy that situation, this fall, with the continued generosity of our supporters, we took the next step by installing a solar water heating system on the roofs of buildings on the clinic compound to provide hot water for doctors and staff to use when showering and washing their hands, and also to aid in keeping the dispensary more sanitary.
And, as noted by dispensary manager Titus Korir, “Solar power is a cheap source of energy which can be sustained for a long time.”