Every year on the fourth Thursday of November millions of Americans across the United States gather with their families and friends for a huge turkey dinner with all the trimmings and giving thanks for all the blessings they have received in life.
In sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of a few Americans residing there, it will be just another day.
But despite the hardships and challenges facing citizens of countries where Bread and Water for Africa® works in partnership with grassroots organizations including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and elsewhere, there are tens of thousands who have plenty of reason to be thankful.
In 2016 alone:
- In Cameroon, more than 250 children benefited from the completion of a school, and another 142 orphaned and destitute primary and secondary school students benefited from school fee support.
- In Ethiopia, 86,000 citizens are thankful for the medical services they received through five hospitals and a clinic supported by Bread and Water for Africa®, while another 12,400 students benefited from a shipment by Bread and Water for Africa® of 22,000 books which was distributed to 20 secondary school libraries.
- In Kenya, 74 orphaned an abandoned children are thankful to have found a loving home at the Lewa Children’s Home, while another 400 Kenya students from nursery to grade eight benefited from an education provided to them at the KipKeino school, constructed nearly 20 years ago by Bread and Water for Africa®.
- In Sierra Leone, more than 76,000 residents are grateful for the healthcare services received through hospitals and clinics supported by Bread and Water for Africa®, 3,000 students and local residents benefited from having access to clean, safe water by a well dug by Bread and Water for Africa® on the school grounds, and another 1,006 students are thankful for the education they received at four nurseries, four primary schools and three secondary schools.
- In Zambia, 93 orphaned children are thankful to have a loving home which provides for all their basic needs and another 146 children living in foster care are grateful for the food support, assistance with school fees and basic health care support they receive.
- In Zimbabwe, 207 children are thankful for an orphan feeding program supported by Bread and Water for Africa®, while 35 secondary school students are grateful for the opportunity to continue their education through our school fee support program.
But the credit doesn’t belong to us – it goes to you – supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who without which none of this would be possible.
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.
It’s springtime, and young boys and girls will soon be taking to the diamond with their gloves, balls and bats to play what is arguably the most American of sports – baseball.
But these kids aren’t in Cleveland, Chicago or Cincinnati. They live in Eldoret, Kenya.
Most young children in rural Kenya are happy just to have a soccer ball made of plastic bags or rags and twine, but these children who attend the KipKeino Primary School will soon have equipment that would rival any Little League team in the United States thanks to Chicago White Sox scout John Tumminia.
Bread and Water for Africa® is proud to play a role in helping Tumminia and his organization Baseball Miracles introduce the sport to hundreds of children at the KipKeino Primary School this year – we are sure they will have a ball!
This year, Bread and Water for Africa® will be helping to facilitate the clinics and games for dozens of children who will be introduced to America’s pastime by baseball professionals, many of whom will fall in love the sport that they had yet to have even heard of.
And, who knows, perhaps a few years from now we may be watching one of these young Kenyans throwing a fastball, or hitting a homerun, in a Major League Baseball game on TV. We can all dream, right?
It may be a cliché, but there’s no denying its truth – time flies.
It’s hard to believe all that Bread and Water for Africa® has been able to accomplish in the past 18 years (since our inception in 1997) with our partner organizations in numerous countries throughout the African continent.
And perhaps none has been more rewarding for us and beneficial to the most needy children in Kenya – orphaned or abandoned by their parents – than our partnership with the Lewa Children’s Home and our international spokesperson Phyllis Keino.
What began as Phyllis’ mission to provide a loving place to live for a few children in her local community of Eldoret in the early -1970s has evolved into a home for hundreds of young children who would otherwise likely be fending for themselves on the streets with no one to care for them, one of nation’s top primary schools and a farm operation which not only provides food for the children, but has excess produce and dairy products to sell at the market.
Bread and Water for Africa® executive director Bethlehem Tessema had the opportunity earlier this year to visit her close friend Phyllis and see all the progress the home, school and farm have made since our partnership with Phyllis began in 1997.
“It is amazing to see all that Phyllis has been able to accomplish with the assistance of Bread and Water for Africa® supporters,” said Bethlehem. “We are proud of what we have been able to do, together with one of our longest-standing partners – the Lewa Children’s Home, the KipKeino Primary School and the Baraka Farm – and it’s all thanks to you.”
So it is today, a dream to do more for Kenya’s children with no place to turn than just provide a bed with a roof over their heads and food in their empty bellies, has been realized. They have a home where they know they are loved, and an education so that they will be able to mature into successful adults with hope for a bright future.
In Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe there are millions of young boys and girls who walk long distances to school, eager for an education that will bring a better life for themselves, their families, their communities and their countries.
And today, many of those boys and girls will become leaders in the governments of their countries – even as president – as well as in business, medicine and human services.
That is why since 1997 education has been one of our top priorities working with our partners including the Haramaya University in Ethiopia where we have shipped thousands and thousands of books to be used by tens of thousands of students, the Kipkeino Primary School in Kenya where our international spokesperson Phyllis Keino operates one of the best primary schools in the entire country, the Waterloo School in Sierra Leone, operated by our partner there, Faith Healing Development Organization, which during the past year we are helping to transform from a ramshackle building into a school they can be proud of, and Zimbabwe where our partner Shinga Development Trust sponsored orphaned and abandoned children’s educations by paying their school fees with help from Bread and Water for Africa®.
We here at Bread and Water for Africa® realize that educating Africa’s children now will pay off great dividends in many ways as the youth mature into successful adults tomorrow.
It’s an investment that with your generous support we are proud to be able to make.
Water is life. It can sometimes be easy for us to take this precious resource for granted thanks to its ready availability here in the United States, but access to water is a daily concern and threat in many regions of Africa.
In 2009, Kenya experienced its worst drought in over 40 years. The lack of rainfall that persisted for more than 11 months that year caused water shortages throughout the nation, creating even greater difficulties in the communities affected. Not only did people lack water essential for their own health, but there was also no water to sustain crops – leading to massive crop failures that sunk the region into famine and further poverty.
Without a stable supply of water, our partners the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya could not provide for the 500-600 people who depend on the complex every day. As a result of the devastating drought of 2009, the Lewa Children’s Home complex, including nearby Baraka Farm and Kipkeino Primary School, realized the need for improved water management to prevent future disasters. We at Bread and Water for Africa® worked with the Lewa Children’s Home to combat the water shortage by supporting forward thinking projects and stability for the Home in the future.
Water-harvesting provides great benefits and a unique stability to areas where rainfall is sporadic. This type of water management allows for water to be stored through extended periods of drought to be used for irrigation, as well as drinking water for animals and – after filtration- for people.
After extensive research into the technology and system that would be most successful and sustainable for the Lewa Children’s Home Complex, Jos Creemers and Phyllis Keino determined that a two reservoir system to harvest and store the water was the best approach. Thanks to the rallying and support of all of our loyal and compassionate donors, we were able to support Lewa’s installation of this water-harvesting system just in time for the next drought.
Thanks to the new ability for the reservoirs to capture rainfall during the rainy season (however short it may be in a given year), and the capacity of the equipment to actually prevent any evaporation of the stored water – the home is able to withstand droughts by planning and rationing the stored water. Upon implementation, the first water reservoir was completely filled in just six weeks! Needless to say, the water-harvesting project has been a great success! This water management project provides the Lewa Children’s Home with improved water and food security, which allows the complex to focus on increased care of its beneficiaries rather than on the basic day-to-day survival of the complex.
Although this project has been a huge success, the devastating effects that Lewa Children’s Home faced during the tragic drought of summer 2011 showed us that there is still more that can be done – training, better equipment, and larger storage capacity to name a few. Future investment in the water infrastructure and sustainable water and soil management is still necessary.
Would you consider donating today to aid in the continuation and expansion of this project?