At Shinga Development Trust’s Lerato Children’s Home, nearly two dozen orphaned and abandoned children were living in darkness this past year. The country has struggled with crippling, rolling blackouts, leaving the children and millions of Zimbabweans without electricity for roughly 20 hours a day.
For us and our longtime partner, Margaret Makambira, who had just in the past year completed construction of the children’s home – the situation was untenable.
“Zimbabwe is experiencing blackouts up to 20 hours daily cause lots of distractions to the orphans at the home,” reported Margaret in November. “Children cannot do their school assignments, and food is going bad.
“The need of solar instillation is crucial so life can be easier for the children,” she said.
She turned to us, and we turned to our supporters, who quickly and generously provided the $3,000 necessary to install solar panels. This will ensure that Margaret and the children in her care will have all the electricity they need – and at no cost for years to come!
As one can see in our 2019 Annual Report, thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® we were able to accomplish much in the past year. This includes providing loving homes for hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia, and educations for thousands more.
This past year, we have made fresh, safe and clean drinking water available for thousands by digging wells in Cameroon, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone, sparing them the risk of serious illness, or even death, from drinking from contaminated sources.
In Ethiopia, Cameroon and Sierra Leone, our medical services program has provided medical equipment and supplies to hospitals and clinics which treated more than 100,000 patients alone in the last year. 2019 also marked a milestone for Bread and Water for Africa® upon the completion of a hospital in Cameroon operated by our partner there, Hope Services.
None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the generosity of our compassionate supporters. We have equally big plans projected for 2020 and we hope you will join with us as we continue our mission of improving the lives of thousands of Africans, especially children, every year.
Although Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, that does not mean that dozens of children living at the Lewa Children’s Home do not have plenty to be thankful for every single day.
Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, and of course “Mama” Phyllis Keino who decades ago began taking orphaned and abandoned children into her home, and eventually founding what was to become the Lewa Children’s Home.
It is because of Phyllis and our supporters that these vulnerable children get to eat three healthy, filling meals daily, have a warm bed to sleep in every night, and have the opportunity to attend school and build a pathway towards a brighter future.
It is also because of Phylllis’ vision to build a children’s home, the KipKeino Primary School, and the Baraka Farm which provides the children with nutritional milk and dairy products for strong bones, maize and vegetables to ensure they receive the nutrition they need for a healthy life.
Among those who has most to be thankful for is Brian who has spent most of his young life at Lewa, thriving under Phyllis’ loving care.
“In this home I have it very good because of the love offered to me,” says Brian. “I would like to thank Mama Phyllis Keino for her support in my education and home. May God bless the work of her hands. Thank you.”
At the Lerato Children’s Home in Zimbabwe, schoolchildren do their homework in the evenings by the light of kerosene lamps which are widely used for lighting in rural areas of Africa where there is no electricity.
Not only does the low light damage the children’s eyes, but exposure to the kerosene fumes can cause toxicity if inhaled and may cause respiratory irritation, as well as being irritating to the eyes and skin, according to the World Health Organization.
In fact, acute and chronic exposure to kerosene may result in CNS effects including drowsiness, convulsions, coma, and even death, according to the WHO.
Kerosene is also an extremely volatile, flammable liquid that can quickly cause an out-of-control fire if a burning lantern is knocked off a table.
The orphaned and abandoned children and youth ages 3 to 18 who have been living at Lerato since it was founded in 2016 know how fortunate they are to have found a loving home operated by long-time Bread and Water for Africa® partner Margaret Makambira, executive director of the Shinga Development Trust.
At Lerato they have the basic necessities of life to be healthy and thrive, and are grateful to have the opportunity to go to school.
In the evenings after they have eaten their dinner by the light of a kerosene lantern, there is nothing more these dedicated students want to do is to be able to study and read – but under the dim light their young eyes are easily strained.
Zimbabwe is currently facing its worst economic crisis in 10 years. According to the International Monetary Fund, Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate from August 2018 through August 2019 was at 300 percent, the highest in the world.
This summer, Zimbabwe experienced what has been described as “an economic and social meltdown” with the Zimbabwean dollar in freefall and the Reserve Bank printing excessive amounts of money. Meanwhile, there are acute shortages of water, fuel, and electricity across the country where power cuts of up to 18 hours a day have destroyed daily life and what little is left of manufacturing. Residents and businesses are experiencing 18-hour blackouts daily, and Lerato is no exception
So what’s the solution? Solar panels on the roof of the children’s home, says Margaret.
Even the Zimbabwean government is seeing the light after earlier this year removing barriers to solar energy expansion by removing import duties on solar-energy related products – and even mandating that all new construction in the country include solar systems to address power shortages such as what is happening there today.
After partnering with Shinga to construct the Lerato Children’s Home, Margaret turned once again to Bread and Water for Africa® for help in having solar panels installed on the roof of the building ensuring that the children there would have plenty of bright light in the evening to do their homework, instead of straining their eyes to read and do their homework.
The cost is $2,700, a large amount of money in the impoverished country where inflation is rampant, but a small sum when considered what it will purchase – free unlimited electricity for the children at the Lerato Children’s Home.
Our goal is to raise these funds by the end of the month and we are asking you today to contribute what you can – it’s past time for the children of Lerato to be studying by the light of the 21st century, not the 19th century.
Bread and Water for Africa® Executive Director Beth Tessema recently returned from an extended visit to Kenya to meet with Phyllis Keino, our international spokesperson and founder and director of the Lewa Children’s Home, to evaluate its progress and conduct a needs assessment.
From there Beth visited Uganda where she evaluated forming potential new partnerships with children’s homes and brought Phyllis with her “because she knows how children’s homes should be managed and can quickly evaluate whether there is a good standard of care at a children’s home.”
While she was in the country, she also visited our current partner Bega kwa Bega (Shoulder to Shoulder) which Bread and Water for Africa® has worked with to support its education program through the donation of books.
In the past two years, Bread and Water for Africa® has provided 44,000 books to Bega kwa Bega which distributed them to 120 impoverished rural schools benefiting more than 15,000 students.
In addition, Beth visited its organic farming training center and the farm manager who is very well educated in organic farming methods and is a strong advocate for food sufficiency at both the family and community levels.
Beth came away very impressed in the training center, which is used by Makerere University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in all of Africa, as an organic farming internship facility.
And she was equally impressed with the model farming sites she visited where she met farmers who are being trained in the best ways to make use of their very small plots of land utilizing every spot possible and learning to plant and harvest throughout the year using crop rotation among other things.
“The Bega kwa Bega program is a great example of how food self-sustainability at a grassroots level benefits family and, eventually, whole communities,” Beth commented. “It is always true that when every family’s needs are met at the grassroots level, the whole community changes.”