This month, Bread and Water for Africa® executive director Beth Tessema is spending several weeks in East Africa developing new partnerships in order to enable us to provide assistance to more and more Africans, particularly children.
In Nairobi, Kenya, Beth toured the infamous Kibera slum, the largest slum in Africa and among the largest slums in the world, home to an estimated 250,000 impoverished people, the majority of them children.
It is there that we now have a new partner, the Seed Foundation, with the mission of transforming the lives of these vulnerable children living in squalor by providing them with access to a good education, while ensuring they also get fed during the school day.
“Most parents send their children to school because of the feeding program,” explained Beth. “Yes, in the short term the children are fed, but in the mid-term and long-term they get an education that will enable them to reach their full potential leading towards a better life than in the slum.”
Through our newly-established partnership with the Seed Foundation, we are working to raise $7,200 to provide meals to 100 children for an entire year – that amounts to just $72 per child per year.
The children in Kibera live with their families in a shack with an average size of 12 feet by 12 feet with mud walls, a corrugated tin roof and a dirt floor. These “homes” often house up to eight family members or more, and many sleep on the floor.
For them, attending the Seed Foundation school where they are learning and getting fed is a respite from their dire living conditions at home.
“Our program addresses the educational needs of the most vulnerable children within the communities in the slums of Kibera,” says Seed Foundation founder and director Patrick Odongo.
He explained that Kibera is “an informal set-up which bears the heaviest burden of employment and poverty in all of Nairobi. Due to rampant unemployment and the inadequacy of resources in rural areas, Kenyans migrate from their rural homes to Nairobi in search of jobs – and end up finding themselves in one of the most populous slums in Africa.
“The Seed School was created to offer students a quality education, and combine it with a feeding program,” Patrick continued. “Two meals are provided every day to every student. This helps in preventing stunting and other malnutritional-related diseases.”
In addition, he noted that the feeding program enables the children to be able to concentrate on their studies, instead of focusing on empty bellies.
The children from impoverished families who are able to attend the Seed School realize how fortunate they are.
“These are children who come from less privileged backgrounds and families,” said Patrick. “Our program offers hope and assurance for these children – giving them hopes and opportunities for a predictive and foreseeable future where they will be self-reliant.”
For us at Bread and Water for Africa® that is what we have been all about for more than 20 years – addressing a child’s immediate needs including food and shelter, while at the same time giving them the opportunity for a brighter future, and in this case – a life out of the slum.
Ever since mankind made the transition from hunter-gatherer to agrarian society about 10,000 years ago, most of the world’s population relies on farming and other agricultural activities for food.
In many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Zambia many millions are reliant not just on farms for food, but must rely on themselves to grow enough food for themselves and their families, and hopefully have surplus crops to be able to sell at local markets.
The challenges for these small-holder farmers, a large percentage of them women, are many and great – especially regarding having adequate rainfall during the growing season in these times of climate change which cause extensive drought leaving farmers with nothing as all they can do is watch the crops wither and die.
But in these countries Bread and Water for Africa® has been working for two decades to support agricultural programs leading to food self-sufficiency and economic independence on both large and small scale projects.
For example, in Kenya, working with our longtime international spokesperson Phyllis Keino and Jos Creemers, manager of the Baraka Farm, over more than 20 years we have been witness to their efforts in transforming 500 barren acres into a thriving agricultural and dairy producing operation which supports Phyllis’ mission as director of the adjacent Lewa Children’s Home.
In Sierra Leone, after years of a brutal civil war and the tragic, deadly Ebola outbreak in 2014/15, Bread and Water for Africa® longtime partner there, Rev. Francis Mambu, director of the Faith Healing Development Organization, is not daunted – in fact he is more determined than ever to restore agricultural production to his country.
Bread and Water for Africa® supports FHDO’s own large-scale rice farming operations through the purchase of farming equipment including tractors and more recently following the Ebola outbreak when farming activities all but ceased in the country, thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide Rev. Mambu with a rice planter/harvester which allowed him to greatly increase production on his land.
In addition, through FHDO programs, Bread and Water for Africa® has provided support to hundreds of small holder farmers – again almost all women struggling to raise their children – by providing seeds and seedlings for plants such as groundnuts (peanuts) at the start of the growing season.
Most recently we are working on a program to provide women with cassava (yucca) plants which, when mature, they sell to a processing plant owned by FHDO which converts the cassava into flour. The women then buy the flour at wholesale prices which they sell at their local markets – in effect making two profits on the same product.
In Zambia, Bread and Water for Africa® supports the efforts of our partner there the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre to have a banana plantation to support the orphanage, similar to the model created by Phyllis for Baraka Farm and Lewa Children’s Home. The banana plantation, started in 2007, was so successful that a few years later Bread and Water for Africa® provided funding for Kabwata director Angela Miyanda to double the size of the planation.
Then, in 2015, Angela came up with the idea to expand her food producing activities with pisciculture, more commonly known as “fish farming.” Bread and Water for Africa® provided her the “seed” money to construct ponds each containing 3,000 tilapia fish which mature in 90 to 120 days not only providing fish for the children, but making thousands of dollars in profits annually.
And in Zimbabwe, Bread and Water for Africa® partner, Shinga Development Trust, is not set up using modern farming mechanisms such as Baraka Farm, but instead utilizes a more traditional farming method known as “Farming God’s Way.”
As explained by Shinga director Margaret Makambira, “Farming God’s Way” stresses teacher farmers to build a sustainable farming method by managing the land, maintaining minimum wastage, no ploughing, and rotation of the crops.
From large scale modern farming to assisting small holder farmers subsisting on the small tracts of land, Bread and Water for Africa® places a high value on agricultural programs, and rightly so as so many lives depend on the success of farmers, big and small.
Eldoret, Kenya, pop. 300,000, is the fastest growing city in Kenya, the second largest urban center in Midwestern Kenya and the fifth largest urban center in all of Kenya.
It is a sister city to Indianapolis, IN, Ithaca, NY, Minneapolis, MN, and Portsmouth, VA.
It is also home to the Kipkeino Primary School, and to hundreds of children living in the adjacent Lewa Children’s Home who attend the school.
As millions of children in the United States return to school in upcoming weeks, so do millions of Kenyan children, and as noted by Kipkeino school administrator Vimala Sebastian, “In the modern world of today, a computer lab is a necessity.”
At Bread and Water for Africa® we wholeheartedly agree. That is why, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we were able in July to fully fund a new computer lab for the school, along with high-speed internet access.
“When the old system was in use, pupils could rarely access the computers and most of the lessons were theory, which was not interesting,” Vimala said. “Right now, they all crowd around the screens which means the children enjoy the program.”
And the biggest strength of the program says Vimala?
“Students being able to use computers and becoming IT experts. They also use the computers for play which improves their cognitive skills as well as alertness.”
As such is true in Indianapolis, Ithaca, Minneapolis, and Portsmouth, so it is true in Eldoret.
Local Partner: Lewa Children’s Home, Eldoret, Kenya
Local Program Director: Phyllis Keino, RN, Founder / Executive Director
Area Served: Serving orphans from all over Kenya at the home located in Western central Kenya.
Program Goal: To educate and care for Kenyan orphans.
Program Services Provided: Full service care, nurturing, healthcare and education for the children
Number of Program Beneficiaries: 235 (73 in the home, 161 in the community)
Current Needs: The Lewa Children’s home is hoping to improve its current income generation through expansion on the land available for farm processing as well as providing guesthouse facilities. It is also hoping to realize the construction of a girl’s secondary school — along with the year-long care of the orphans.
The Lewa Children’s Home, headed by our Spokesperson, Phyllis Keino, provides a loving environment, nutritious food, clean water, education and support for abandoned, orphaned or abused children in a family setting. The home, relocated from its original site in 2003, is now adjacent to the Kip Keino Primary School and the Baraka farm and now the children are within walking distance of the School. With the new location came the need for bigger quarters for the children. A large, multi-purpose structure, including a dormitory, bathrooms, study and meeting rooms and a small clinic are all included in the new structure which was completed in 2006.
Phyllis Keino has been caring for orphaned, abused and abandoned Kenyan children since 1964. Her philosophy that education is the most important gift you can give a child is an inspiration to so many people in Kenya and around the world. We too believe that education is the most important gift you can give a child.
Bread and Water for Africa® provides critical funding for the operation of the home and for school fees, scholarship funds and other assistance to the children at the home as well as other needy children in the local community.
Local Partner Director: Phyllis Keino, Jos Creemers
Area Served: Providing support for Kenyan orphans cared for by the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret.
Program Goal: To provide wholesome, healthy foods for the children at the Lewa Children’s Home and the Kipkeino Primary School. To provide produce, milk, milk products and crop items for sale to support the Lewa Children’s Home. To set an example for small scale, local farmers through innovative farming techniques and a demonstration plot and garden. Expanding operations to use more land of Lewa property to provide more income and jobs.
Program Services Provided: Fresh vegetables, milk and milk products, crops, farming techniques, demonstration plots and technical support.
Number of Program Beneficiaries: Over 600
An agricultural development program designed to support the Lewa Children’s Home with fresh-grown grains, vegetables, meats and dairy products (including fermented milk, yogurt and cheese). The Farm has expanded to provide support to the children’s home through the sale of crops, livestock, milk, cheese, yogurt, honey and sunflower seed oil.
Farm Manager and staff provide demonstration plots and host “Farm Days” for local farmers to learn new, innovative and low-tech, farming techniques to improve crop yields for their families while protecting the local environment. They have also just signed a contract with an organization based in the Netherlands to teach 20 lessons to agricultural instructors from the region in order to get them up-to-date on modern sustainable farming and dairy processing techniques.
Program also includes agricultural training for orphans of the Lewa Children’s Home and employs over 100 people from the local community.
Bread & Water for Africa® has provided funding for farm operations and equipment purchases. Also, funding was provided for the construction of a water reservoir to serve the farm, children’s home and the school during the dry season.