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.
In Sierra Leone, the soil and growing conditions are ideal for large-scale farming. But people are starving because of a lack of farming equipment necessary to cultivate large tracts of land which tragically lay fallow.
However, thanks to our supporters, this fall we were able to ship a pre-owned, factory certified Ford 5030 tractor and accessories to our partner there, Faith Healing Development Organization, which operates a 100-acre farm.
The tractor will make a huge difference in the efficiency of the farming operation and resulting in a significant increase in harvests year after year – and that translates into more food on the tables of families and into the bellies of hungry children. We are very grateful to our partners Arms Around Africa and the Royer Family Foundation.
Five thousand chickens is a lot of chickens – especially in an impoverished country such as Sierra Leone. Many go hungry for days on end and chicken is a delicacy compared with the everyday meal of beans and rice.
“The evidence suggests that Sierra Leoneans love eating eggs and chicken.”
So says Rev. Francis Mambu, executive director of Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO). We’ve been partnering with them for more than a decade. Together we’ve provided health care services, education and food to tens of thousands children, adults and seniors in the country .
“Home-grown” chickens are very much in need in Sierra Leone. As explained by Rev. Mambu: “As the local production is inadequate because of the insufficient number of poultries in the country, most of the chickens and eggs we eat have to be imported from overseas.”
But, those imported chickens and eggs “can pose a health challenge” particularly if they are not handled and preserved properly.
“A couple of months ago, a whole container load of chickens was dumped as not fit for human consumption,” he told us.
We strive to find ways to assist our partners in Africa become self-sufficient while also providing necessary services to the people in the communities they serve.
Such as the case in Kenya with the Lewa Children’s Home. The home operates the Baraka Farm providing milk and dairy products to the children, and selling the surplus to help with overhead costs.
When Rev. Mambu approached us a couple of years ago with a proposal to construct a facility to house up to 5,000 chickens and food processing area, we were eager to support that initiative.
Today, we are proud to announce that the facility is almost ready to start production.
The poultry facility will be located on farmland owned by FHDO at Yankansa where other facilities are also located. The facility will be able to serve the people of the capital city of Freetown and provinces.
In addition to providing chicken and eggs, profits from the sales will go to supplement revenues for other FHDO projects including schools and low-cost health clinics increase its sustainability. The facility will also provide jobs for several in a country where good jobs are hard to come by.
“The need for eggs and chicken cannot be over-emphasized,” Rev. Mambu told us. “These are sources of protein that are affordable by most and the demand therefore is very high.
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.
With the initial success of the fish farming project at the Kabwata Orphanage & Transit Centre in Zambia, thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, we were recently able to add two more ponds to the operation thereby enabling the orphanage to reap increased financial returns as it heads along the path to self-sufficiency.
According to Kabwata founder and executive director Angela Miyanda, each pond will house 2,500 tilapia fish generating thousands of dollars for the orphanage every six months.
With the recent completion of the two ponds, and with the first harvest scheduled for around mid-June, the annual revenue is projected to increase to a significant sum that will go a long way towards improving the lives of hundreds of orphans and destitute Zambian children.
“Fish farming is new for Zambia and we have a good market for it, especially for the local people,” commented Angela, adding, “The community is excited with the fish farming because it will be sold in the local community, unlike the distances they have to go to the markets.”
Tilapia, a staple in Zambia, is the perfect fish for such an operation, notes The Washington Post.1
“And if we’re going to farm fish, an adaptable, hardy fish like tilapia is an excellent candidate,” the Post reported.
An expert on fish farming around the world told the Post, “If you’re going to farm fish, tilapia is a great candidate. They’re easier to raise than they are to kill.”
Tilapia, in short, is an environmentally friendly, lean low-calorie source of protein, the Post reported, adding, “We need all of those we can get.”
We are inspired by Angela’s ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit and proud of our compassionate supporters who helped in the construction of the first two ponds.