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?
Mother’s Day has a particularly strong meaning here at Bread and Water for Africa® since so many of our programs are lead by strong women who become mothers to hundreds of children.
Phyllis Keino is just one of these admirable women who has dedicated her life to providing shelter, education, and food to the children of Kenya.
Phyllis’ first great project was the founding of the Lewa Children’s Home, located in Eldoret, Kenya which was registered in 1978. This place has given a home to hundreds of orphans now – creating brighter futures for children each year.
But how to feed so many mouths? Phyllis created the Baraka Farm to produce healthy food to nourish these many children. Not only that, but the extra food sold at the local market helps to fund the day-to-day upkeep of the organization.
Last, fulfilling Phyllis’ vision, the KipKeino School was created, a place for not only the children of the Lewa Children’s Home to obtain an education, but also for children in the neighboring communities. This education will allow all of these children to have lives with more opportunity and ultimately create a better future for Kenya and Africa as a whole.
This Mother’s Day as we honor mothers everywhere, remember Phyllis Keino and the many children that who call her mother. Make a gift in Phyllis’ honor here
2013 is a special year for our volunteer spokesperson, Phyllis Keino, and the oasis of hope she has worked so hard to build – the new Lewa Children’s Home. This year marks Lewa’s 10th anniversary and a celebration of their continued efforts to save and transform the lives of thousands more youth throughout Kenya.