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.”
We at Bread and Water for Africa® began to get to know him as a 2-year-old toddler when he was brought to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya, and into the loving arms of Lewa founder and executive director Phyllis Keino after being abandoned by his mother.
Even at that tender age, Phyllis, who has become known as “mother” to hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children and who all have a special place in her heart could tell there was something exceptional about Emmanuel.
15 years ago, Emmanuel arrived at Lewa with his older brother and sister, and it didn’t take long for them to become a part of the Lewa family, and for Phyllis to become the only mother he has ever known.
While most children in Kenya, and throughout the African continent for that matter, want nothing more than to be able to go to school in the knowledge that getting an education is their only chance out of a life of dire poverty, for Emmanuel, it was not just attending school – but excelling the classroom – that was his passion.
Emmanuel attended Kip Keino Primary School from Nursery to Jr. High, and in 2015, as an eighth grader, Emmanuel tackled his biggest challenge yet by scoring among the best and brightest throughout the entire country in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations (similar to the SAT for high school students in the United States).
It is especially tragic for those who have the ability and determination but lack the money for school supplies and uniforms and have no choice but to take menial low-wage jobs to help support their families and themselves.
While of course we cannot say what was going through Emmanuel’s mind as he filled out his application for Kapsabet High School, we must assume it was with hopeful optimism. Kapsabet is one of the most prestigious high schools in the country whose alumni include Daniel Arap Moi, the second president of Kenya.
The odds against him being accepted to Kapsabet – (where only 300 new students are accepted each year – out of an application pool of 60,000!) – were long, but as his acceptance to the class of 2019 illustrates, not insurmountable.
For Emmanuel, beating those seemingly overwhelming odds was not a matter of luck, but a testament to his ability, and his steady belief that he can do whatever he sets his mind to.
Four years later, we have just received word from Phyllis that Emmanuel is headed to Taita Taveta University in Mariwenyi, Kenya – on a full scholarship!
Taita Taveta University, a non-profit public higher education institution accredited by the Commission for University Education of Kenya, is described as “A Premier Institution in Education, Training, Research, Innovation And Community Outreach.”
Beginning in August, Emmanuel will begin his studies, majoring in agribusiness; a vital field on the African continent as noted by a recent report by the World Bank on “Agribusiness Indicators: Kenya” which states:
“The importance of agriculture in the economies of sub-Saharan African countries cannot be overemphasized.
“With agriculture accounting for about 65 percent of the region’s employment and 75 percent of its domestic trade, significant progress in reducing hunger and poverty across the region depends on the development and transformation of the agricultural sector.
“Transforming agriculture from largely a subsistence enterprise to a profitable commercial venture is the prerequisite and driving force for accelerated development and sustainable economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
We have no doubt that one day in the not-too-distant future, Emmanuel – the same 2-year-old helpless child abandoned by his mother – will be leading the way as a driving force in helping to reduce hunger and poverty, perhaps even at the Baraka Farm right next to the Lewa Children’s Home where he grew up.
Despite all Emmanuel has accomplished, we know he will never forget those who helped him attain the success he has achieved today – namely Phyllis, and the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®. Without them, he would not have had a home, much less an education.
Upon his acceptance to Kapsabet in 2015, he expressed his sincere gratitude in a letter to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® writing:
“I write this letter to really appreciate for sponsoring me – for if it wouldn’t have been for you, I wouldn’t be where I am.
“This comes from the bottom of my heart. I promise to work hard at school and post good results as hard work pays.
“Moreover, I promise to not let you down.”
The town of Mariwenyi is 400 miles, a 12-hour bus ride on the rutted Kenyan roads, from Lewa where he grew up, but a world away from how his life began and how we are certain it will evolve.
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.