Nearly 10 years ago, the World Health Organization estimated that there were 15 million people in Ethiopia with disabilities, representing close to 20 percent of the population.
And according to the country’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, 95 percent of those lived in poverty — the vast majority in rural areas, where basic services are limited and the chances of accessing rehabilitative or support services are remote.
In the past decade, sadly the situation has only gotten worse, not better.
That’s why at Bread and Water for Africa, we are partnering with a non-profit organization, joni&friends, to ship 240 wheelchairs, along with pairs of crutches, canes, walkers, and more, to our longtime partner in Ethiopia, Woldia University, in the Amhara region of the country.
As reported by university, which operates a College of Health which consists of a medical laboratory, and courses in public health and nursing, for the recipients of the wheelchairs and other items, will enrich their lives by making everyday activities simpler, “and eventually a lot more fun,” while also easing the burden of their family members assisting them as they embark on an independent life.
The primary beneficiaries will be disabled children, young and older disabled people. These individuals will be trained how to use the items by a physiotherapist.
Their names are Darrel, Ema, Makanaka, Nyarai and Margaret and they among the dozens of orphaned and abandoned African children who have found loving homes at children’s homes — Lewa Children’s Home in Kenya, Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Zambia, and the Lerato Children’s Village in Zimbabwe supported by Bread and Water for Africa®.
And thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® they have a warm bed to sleep at night with a full belly and no worries of where their next meal is coming from, health care and an education — an opportunity not just to survive, but to thrive.
With no one else in the world to care for these innocent children who only want a chance in life, there’s no telling what their fates would be, what kind of future they would have… or tragically, even if they would have a future at all.
At the Lerato Children’s Village, which was recently constructed by Bread and Water for Africa® with the help of our supporters, up to 10 children live in a home with a “house mother,” as required by law in Zimbabwe as opposed to a dormitory-style setting.
Although it is a positive for children to be cared for in a more home-like setting, the cost per child is higher and the rampant inflation in the country makes matters worse, but director Margaret Makambira is determined to carry on her mission despite the challenges.
During the past 20 years Margaret, Lewa executive director (and Bread and Water for Africa® international spokesperson) Phyllis Keino and Kabwata executive director Angela Miyanda would never have been able to care for more than 3,000 of their countries’ most vulnerable children without the generous financial assistance of our supporters.
And because of our supporters, 7-year-old Darrel, who had been abandoned by his mother and living on the streets, 6-year-old Ema, who was born with HIV and abandoned, 14-year-old Makanaka, whose mother died when she was four, 2-year-old Nyarai, whose mother had just died, and 6-year-old Margaret, who was found abandoned, severely malnourished and unable to hear or talk, have all found homes — and new “mothers” and “families” who love them dearly.
For over20 years, Bread and Water for Africa® has been working in Sub-Saharan African countries such as Sierra Leone, Kenya, Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Zambia to ensure that expectant mothers are able to safely give birth to healthy baby girls and boys.hos
Through our support of the construction of a new hospital operated by our partner Hope Services in Cameroon, the Kebeneti SDA Dispensary in Kericho, Kenya, and numerous clinics operated by our partners in Sierra Leone, we have strived to save the lives of mothers and their young children.
We can sympathize with the millions of mothers in Sub-Saharan Africa who lose their children to easily preventable diseases and malnutrition and mourn the deaths of their children for the rest of their lives.
That sad fact was brought home to us in a recent report stating that while most parents living in industrialized countries today reasonably presume that their children will survive childhood, but child death remains woefully common in some parts of the world, particularly in certain Sub-Saharan African countries where a baby born is roughly 20 times more likely to die in early childhood than a baby born in the U.S. or Western Europe.
The Washington Post reported that 3.3 million children died in 2018 in sub-Saharan Africa in 2018 alone.
And it is their mothers who bear the burden of grief.
According to the study, between one-fourth and one-half of women in sub-Saharan Africa lost a child during their lifetimes, and more than 20 percent had lost a child younger than 5 years old.
“In the shadows of the high child mortality rates are millions of grieving mothers who bear the personal, social and martial costs of a child’s death,” states the study, which points to a “bereavement burden” that affects what women worry about, how they make decisions and even how healthy they are.
In Kenya, the good news is that remarkable progress has been made in improving child survival over the past three decades, but the sad news is that there is still a long way to go as one in every 19 children not reaching their fifth birthday.
Over the past two decades, thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, untold thousands of children grew up healthy and today are living happy successful lives with children of their own because of the health care their mothers received while expecting, and the health care they received as children at the free and low-cost clinics and hospitals operated by our partners.
In the past week, Africa’s number of coronavirus cases soared by more than 40 percent, “stoking concerns that the continent could become the epicenter of the pandemic at a time when hunger is rising and doctors fear a resurgence of malaria deaths,” reported The Washington Post
on April 23.
According to a United Nations estimate, the virus threatens to kill more than 300,000 people on the continent, and plunge tens of millions more into poverty.
At Bread and Water for Africa®, we are striving to assist our partners which provide loving homes for orphaned and abandoned children at the Lewa Children’s Home in Kenya, the Kabwata Orphanage, and Transit Centre in Zambia, and the Lerato Children’s Village in Zimbabwe.
In Zambia, the children at the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre are being cared for following isolation protocol. Food has become scarce in parts of the country, with prices increasing in recent days. Our funding continues to provide for the basic needs the children need, as well as the creative means of continuing with studies via distance learning.
In Zimbabwe, the situation is increasingly dire as the persistent drought has devastated agricultural production for the past several years in a country that was once known as the breadbasket of Africa. Consequently, Lerato Children’s Village is working hard to maintain basic needs for the children, including their health and safety, as well as having to adapt quickly to changing circumstances.
While the manner in which each completes their day-to-day operations have changed, and food is harder to come by, the resilience and adaptability of our program directors has been inspiring. Education is adapting, medical care is prioritized and made available, and food is found, by creative means when needed, so that the children are cared for.
For more than 20 years, the primary mission Bread and Water for Africa® has been to find loving homes for orphaned, abandoned and destitute children throughout the continent, starting with the Lewa Children’s Home in Kenya, Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Zambia, and most recently the Lerato Children’s Village in Zimbabwe.
Throughout the years, there has had always been challenges to keep these children housed, fed, healthy, and educated, but with the deadly coronavirus pandemic making inroads into the African continent, times are worse than we, or anyone, has ever seen.
In Zimbabwe, the situation is increasingly dire as our longtime partner Margaret Makambira, founder and director of Shinga Development Trust, who we partnered with to construct the children’s village, struggles to keep the children under her care healthy and safe.
Even before the pandemic, Zimbabwe’s economy was in freefall, as hyperinflation sent food prices soaring with food inflation at more than 700 percent in December, according to an April 12 report in The Independent.
A persistent drought has devastated agricultural production for the past several years in a country that was once known as the breadbasket of Africa. In fact, because of the severe drought induced by climate change, of the last five growing seasons, only one has seen normal rainfall, reports The Independent.
To make matters even worse, “Experts predict that the upcoming 2020 harvest will be even poorer than those preceding it,” states The Independent report.
According to the United Nations World Food Program, there are 4.1 million Zimbabweans experiencing “crisis” or “emergency” food insecurity in a country of 16.5 million.
“With hunger peaking, the looming COVID-19 pandemic threatens to exacerbate Zimbabwe’s dire economic and hunger crises,” states The Independent.
And a recent World Food Program analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on food security estimates that the forthcoming agricultural season — so crucial for millions of Zimbabweans — may again be compromised, either by reduced agricultural labor because of the country’s lockdown or because of lack of access to agricultural inputs due to supply-chain disruptions.
Despite the distressing situation Margaret and children in her care are facing on a daily basis, they have something that millions of Zimbabwean children and families don’t — the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who for decades have given generously to provide them with the assistance they have needed not only to survive but to thrive.
Eddie Rowe, WFP’s country director and representative for Zimbabwe, is adamant that its operations must and will continue uninterrupted by the coronavirus.
At Bread and Water for Africa®, we share that commitment to Margaret and “her” children, never to give up providing them food and basic necessities in their greatest time of need in their entire lives.
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.