These are the faces of the children at the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Zambia that keep us awake at night, particularly in these times of a worldwide pandemic which is just now beginning to strike the continent of Africa.
Although as of April 2, the country had only 39 confirmed cases of coronavirus, The New York Times today reported that Zambia recorded its first death from coronavirus today.
Africa has now registered almost 6,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 200 deaths, according to Physicians Weekly. Zambia and the entire continent is already suffering a huge economic impact from lockdowns aiming to contain the virus and a sharp fall in global demand for commodities.
Kabwata founder and director Angela Miyanda is doing all she can to prevent the coronavirus from reaching the 56 children who live at this orphanage by following all safety precautions and severely restricting visitors from coming on the grounds.
At Bread and Water for Africa® we are doing all we can to assist Angela in her mission of protecting the children she has taken under her wing and praying for a quick end for this global pandemic and that she and “her” children remain safe and healthy. Without the support, hundreds, if not thousands, of children that Angela has taken under her wing during our 20-year partnership would have fended for themselves streets on the Lusaka.
These are the children we love and care for, and we wonder which of them will succeed — continue their education through secondary school, find a job that allows them to become self-sufficient adults and raise a family — and those who sadly will not.
In Zambia, the odds are not in their favor.
But thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, they are beating those odds by getting a good start in life that most orphaned, destitute and vulnerable children in Zambia would otherwise never have.
First and foremost, they have found peace, safety, and solace in the loving arms of Angela who provides them with a warm bed to sleep in at night with a fully belly and without worry where their next meal is coming from.
She holds and comforts them when they are feeling sad and all alone in the world, and she takes them to a doctor when they are sick.
And she gives them the hope for a brighter future they would never have through an education guaranteed to them through primary and secondary school — their only chance out of a life of dire poverty in an impoverished country.
Frequently, Angela reports how proud she is of individual children who have grown and matured under her care and through their own dedication and determination have not squandered the opportunity they understand how fortunate they are to have received.
For years, Bread and Water for Africa® has constructed water wells and supported clean water development projects to provide life’s most vital resource. That mission is now more important than ever as communities throughout Africa lack clean water sources to wash their hands and protect themselves against the pandemic we all face right now.
For the past several years, our newest partner in Uganda, Bega kwa Bega (BkB) has been working to protect springs in rural portions of the country, but due to lack of sufficient funding, they have only been able to protect about 10 springs each year, when the need is far greater.
Bread and Water for Africa® is taking on the mission to partner with BkB to provide funding for 25 spring water protection sites this year and to continue that number at a rate of two or three per month for at least the next five years – 125 sites!
BkB is planning on protecting springs in six districts: Wakiso, Gomba, Butamblala, Mpigi, Mukono and Mubende with each site to serve about 50 families, representing an estimated 250 children, parents and elders – providing access to safe clean drinking water for up to 6,250 Uganda children, parents and elders where at present there is none.
“The water is unhygienic because it is easily contaminated by urine and human waste, garbage and other materials,” reported Bega kwa Bega (BkB) (Shoulder to Shoulder) manager David Ssagala, Bread and Water for Africa® newest partner in the country.
In the central and western region of Uganda where BkB works, there are more than 200 villages where many residents risk illness, even death, drinking from these unprotected, polluted springs.
According to the World Health Organization, lack of clean water results in 115 deaths EVERY HOUR in sub-Saharan African countries such as Uganda.
Bacteria, viruses, parasites and pollution contaminate freshwater sources resulting in water scarcity which is a major problem even in areas where there is plenty of rainfall. A lack of clean water increases the risk of diarrheal diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery, and other water-borne diseases.
“Water scarcity affects one in three people in the African Region and is getting worse with population growth, urbanization and increases in household and industrial uses,” states the WHO.
But it does not have to be that way, and that’s why a few years ago BkB developed a program to protect the springs from contamination by constructing a concrete water filtration system.
“Before the protection of the spring, community members used such water for all their home consumption,” explained David.
Among those who are benefiting today by a water protection project completed by BkB last year is 9-year-old Lydia who until a few months ago spent her days walking miles back and forth from an unprotected water source carrying a 5-gallon container on her head weighing about 40 pounds when she should have been in school.
Through BkB’s water spring protection project program, Lydia’s family, and dozens of others living nearby, now have a steady source of water nearby and do not need to wander far and wide to collect it from open, unprotected sources, according to David.
“The women and girls now do not have to walk long distances in search of safe water, thus minimizing the risks associated with long journeys,” he told us.
According to UNICEF, “collecting water is often a colossal waste of time for women and girls,” estimating that around the world they spend 200 million hours a day fetching water.
The United Nations estimates that in sub-Saharan African countries like Uganda, nearly 40 percent in rural areas improved drinking water sources are more than 30 minutes away. In some instances, girls can spend up to eight hours, round trip, every day to collect water for themselves and their families.
In addition, for girls such as Lydia who daily carry a significant percentage of their body weight in a container on their head, there is a significant risk on musculoskeletal disorders and related disabilities.
“The beneficiaries are always grateful because through spring protection, they are able to access safe and clean water – unlike before protection when they used to have to share these water sources with animals,” says David. “These water sources are used by many households, schools, health centers, churches, mosques and also for income generation.”
The cost to protect a single spring is $1,000, a small price to pay to provide 50 families with safe drinking water, amounting to about $83 a month for one year. Once completed, the life span of each protected spring is between 20 and 30 years.
And with the help of our generous and loyal supporters, in 2020 we will meet our goal of raising $15,000 to provide safe drinking water for 30 villages that will benefit thousands for years to come.
Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, our most recent water well project was completed in Ethiopia.
Thanks to all of you , as well one particularly generous supporter, Joseph Grush and his granddaughter, Alexis, more than 160 households in the rural village of Shenabeles with a total population of 800 who have access all the clean safe water they need for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing, and particularly in these times of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, to be able to wash their hands frequently.
Prior to the digging of the well, Shinabeles residents, mostly young girls carrying water on their heads in containers that weigh practically as much as they do, had to walk 6 miles to a small shallow well, their nearest source of potentially uncontaminated water.
But that’s all changed for them today, thanks to Mr. Grush and Alexis, and all of our supporters who donated what they could afford to give the gift of life to the residents of Shinabeles and preventing them from contacting a serious waterborne lines, and even death all due to a lack of clean water.
For many years, Richard “Dick” Landis has been partnering with Bread and Water for Africa® to help improve the lives of Kenyan children.
First was his support of the Lewa Children’s Home, the Kipkeino Primary School and Baraka Farm, all integrated under the direction of Bread and Water for Africa® international spokesperson Phyllis Keino.
A successful retired businessman and track coach, Landis and his wife, Toini, have committed the biggest part of his retirement to working in Kenya, so far making the 18-hour trip some 40 times, notes a 2017 article in the Cornell College alumni magazine, his alma mater.
As noted in the article, he and Toini created a foundation to support their efforts which is building a high school and medical clinic with one of his former runners, a tribal elder.
That school is Kebeneti Secondary School in the town of Kericho where Bread and Water for Africa® and Mr. Landis have been partnering together for the past few years, first getting the start-up school established and then working on improvements and upgrades year after year.
Kebeneti opened in 2015 with 50 students, and has new grown to an enrollment of 480, where girls outnumber boys 244 to 236.
That former runner and tribal elder, Titus Korir, noted that the opening of the school four years ago was necessary because there was no secondary school in the area forcing children who had graduated from primary school who lived in the community to walk many miles to the nearest secondary school to continue their education.
Since the opening of the school, Bread and Water for Africa® has teamed up with Mr. Landis to construct six classrooms, as well as the construction of a chemistry lab and physics lab, which we then equipped with modern equipment.
Mr. Landis was quick to recognize the generous contributions of Unilever and the Finley Trust who supporting equipping the labs. “They were very helping with the labs,” he told us.
To accommodate the rapidly growing student body population, we are now in the process of constructing four more additional classrooms.
Most recently, we have just completed the construction of a dining hall and kitchen which was celebrated in grand style with a ceremony commending Bread and Water for Africa® and Mr. Landis on November 24 with ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Mr. and Mrs. Landis.
In a card written by a student, the student wrote:
To Landis family,
Wow! Thank you for the lovely gift! Thank you for your kindness; thank you for being the person you are.
You are a person who makes life easier and better for everyone in need.
You put others before yourself, making us feel special and important! It is a privilege and a please to know you Bread and Water for Africa!
We appreciate you Bread and Water for Africa ®. We thank you Mr. and Mrs. Landis.
A plaque on the exterior of the dining hall, known as “Landis Hall,” states: “The construction of this hall was funded with donations from Mr. Richard Landis of Montana, USA, and Bread and Water for Africa. It was officially opened by Richard Landis and his wife Toini on Sunday, 24th November 2019.”
As Mr. Korir stated in his request for assistance in constructing the dining hall, “The dining hall and kitchen are essential as students are currently eating lunch outside and their meals are being cooked in temporary shade.”
He also noted in addition to having a place for the nearly 500 students to sit
down together at lunchtime, the hall will also be used for school assemblies and as a concert hall.
Although providing our partners with what they need has become more challenging since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19), rest assured, Bread and Water for Africa® continues to do everything in our power to make sure basic needs are met in the African countries where we work.
Recently, we shipped a 40-foot container filled with prenatal vitamins, antibiotics, and analgesics in cooperation with our longtime partner, MAP International.
“These much needed medicines will be distributed to [hospitals and clinics serving] orphans, vulnerable children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and expectant mothers in seven health facilities in Freetown, Sierra Leone,” stated MAP International.
MAP International continued:
“Our partner Bread and Water for Africa, through the United Methodist Church will help us distribute these lifesaving [medicine as soon as the shipment arrives].
“For the two billion people who don’t have access to even basic medicines, ensuring our planned shipments of essential, life-changing medicines and health supplies is of utmost importance.
“Please continue to include all the most vulnerable people in your prayers as you keep your families and loved ones safe and secure. We will all weather this as best we can.”
We will all get through this together.