It is with great relief that we are pleased to report good news on the agriculture front from Sierra Leone that the 2019 planting season started on time!
Bread and Water for Africa® has long supported the agricultural operations of our partner in the country, Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO), particularly its rice farm, so it was especially nice to hear from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations that: “Following a timely onset of seasonal rains, planting of paddy rice, to be harvested from September, started in 2019.”
Rice is the staple food in Sierra Leone and after years of disappointing harvests due to poor rains, it is good to know that the weather is cooperating with the farmers this year.
However, that does not mean that there still are not concerns. The FAO also reported that “despite the overall favorable food security conditions, some vulnerable households still need external food assistance.”
According to the FAO, “pockets of poverty remain in the country,” citing an analysis that 124,000 people will be in need of food assistance until September.
But thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, FHDO is expecting a bumper harvest of rice this fall which will go to feed thousands of hungry Sierra Leoneans who are most in need in the impoverished country.
Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® the poultry farm in Sierra Leone operated by our partner there, Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO), is operating in full swing, just like Old MacDonald’s Farm with “here a cluck, there a cluck, everywhere a cluck-cluck.”
Two years ago, FHDO executive director Rev. Francis Mambu came to us with a request for assistance in the construction of a poultry farm where thousands of chickens would be raised from eggs (with plenty of surplus eggs to sell at the local market). This has provided thousands of Sierra Leoneans with access to affordable fresh poultry, which is hard to find in the country, and expensive when available.
In the photos Rev. Mambu sent us, he is surrounded by hundreds of nearly full-grown chickens. Not only does the farm make chickens and eggs available for families, it also generates income for FHDO towards its mission of providing low-cost health care services for the indigent, and education for children.
As the photo illustrates, while the chickens cannot likely be considered “free-range,” they also do not spend their lives contained in tiny cages barely larger than themselves. This allows them to enjoy their lives before being enjoyed as a special treat for dinner on the plates of roughly 5,000 hungry Sierra Leoneans each year.
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.
Right now it’s harvest time throughout sub-Saharan Africa including the countries where we support farming operations to Baraka Farm in Kenya which provides food and support to the Lewa Children’s Home, to the smallholder farmers who subsist on what they can grow on their own tiny tracts of land.
Here in the United States, we are blessed with an abundance of food available at the local grocery store, but that is not the case for millions of Sierra Leoneans who rely on what they are able to harvest for themselves, and what they can purchase at the local market.
Thanks to people like you, families in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, and Zambia are benefiting from agricultural programs supported by Bread and Water for Africa® which not only ensures that they have at least one filling meal day, but money in their pockets with the little surplus they are able to sell.