Thousands of children living in rural Kenya are considered fortunate to be able to attend school. But many of them live miles from their school, and of course, there being no school buses to carry them back and forth, some walk 10 miles round trip, or even more.
However, a large percentage of them, proudly wearing their school uniform, must walk that distance barefoot.
Not only must they dodge sharp rocks that can cut their tiny feet, they must walk on hot, hard dirt paths during the dry season, and navigate puddles and deep mud when the heavy rains come.
But all for the lack of a pair of shoes, these children are risking serious illness and even death with every step they take.
Parasitic worms such as roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms can cause soil-transmitted disease, which the World Health Organization notes that “are among the most common infections worldwide and affect the poorest and most deprived communities,” such as villages in rural Kenya.
In addition, by walking barefoot children can become infected by the burrowing Tunga flea, known as a “jigger” in Kenya, a debilitating foot parasite which makes walking practically unbearable preventing thousands of children from attending school.
To address this severe health-related issue, we started a “Shoes for Kenya” program to provide thousands of children with a pair of shoes – likely the first pair they’ve ever owned – so they can walk to school safely.
Earlier this year, we ran pipes from a clean water source about two miles away from the Kebeneti SDA Dispensary in Kericho, Kenya so it would no longer have to rely on rainwater collected in storage tanks and now have access to all the water they need for patients, staff, and to keep the facility clean.
However, what remained lacking was hot water, meaning that they had to boil water for sterilization, washing, and bathing.
The good news for the clinic, located in the highlands west of Rift Valley about 25 miles from the equator, is that sunshine is abundant throughout the year.
To remedy that situation, this fall, with the continued generosity of our supporters, we took the next step by installing a solar water heating system on the roofs of buildings on the clinic compound to provide hot water for doctors and staff to use when showering and washing their hands, and also to aid in keeping the dispensary more sanitary.
And, as noted by dispensary manager Titus Korir, “Solar power is a cheap source of energy which can be sustained for a long time.”
The Kebeneti SDA Dispensary in Kericho, Kenya has been providing much-needed healthcare services to the people living in this underserved area of rural Kenya since 1966. But until recently, the doctors and staff managed to get by without a reliable supply of fresh water. Thanks to our supporters, we were able to install a pipeline from a nearby uncontaminated source.
This fall, we took the next step by installing a solar water heating system to provide hot water, so the doctors and staff have hot water when showering and washing their hands, and to aid in keeping the dispensary more sanitary.
As noted by dispensary manager Titus Korir, “Solar power is a cheap source of energy which can be sustained for a long time.”
Ever since mankind made the transition from hunter-gatherer to agrarian society about 10,000 years ago, most of the world’s population relies on farming and other agricultural activities for food.
In many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Zambia many millions are reliant not just on farms for food, but must rely on themselves to grow enough food for themselves and their families, and hopefully have surplus crops to be able to sell at local markets.
The challenges for these small-holder farmers, a large percentage of them women, are many and great – especially regarding having adequate rainfall during the growing season in these times of climate change which cause extensive drought leaving farmers with nothing as all they can do is watch the crops wither and die.
But in these countries Bread and Water for Africa® has been working for two decades to support agricultural programs leading to food self-sufficiency and economic independence on both large and small scale projects.
For example, in Kenya, working with our longtime international spokesperson Phyllis Keino and Jos Creemers, manager of the Baraka Farm, over more than 20 years we have been witness to their efforts in transforming 500 barren acres into a thriving agricultural and dairy producing operation which supports Phyllis’ mission as director of the adjacent Lewa Children’s Home.
In Sierra Leone, after years of a brutal civil war and the tragic, deadly Ebola outbreak in 2014/15, Bread and Water for Africa® longtime partner there, Rev. Francis Mambu, director of the Faith Healing Development Organization, is not daunted – in fact he is more determined than ever to restore agricultural production to his country.
Bread and Water for Africa® supports FHDO’s own large-scale rice farming operations through the purchase of farming equipment including tractors and more recently following the Ebola outbreak when farming activities all but ceased in the country, thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide Rev. Mambu with a rice planter/harvester which allowed him to greatly increase production on his land.
In addition, through FHDO programs, Bread and Water for Africa® has provided support to hundreds of small holder farmers – again almost all women struggling to raise their children – by providing seeds and seedlings for plants such as groundnuts (peanuts) at the start of the growing season.
Most recently we are working on a program to provide women with cassava (yucca) plants which, when mature, they sell to a processing plant owned by FHDO which converts the cassava into flour. The women then buy the flour at wholesale prices which they sell at their local markets – in effect making two profits on the same product.
In Zambia, Bread and Water for Africa® supports the efforts of our partner there the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre to have a banana plantation to support the orphanage, similar to the model created by Phyllis for Baraka Farm and Lewa Children’s Home. The banana plantation, started in 2007, was so successful that a few years later Bread and Water for Africa® provided funding for Kabwata director Angela Miyanda to double the size of the planation.
Then, in 2015, Angela came up with the idea to expand her food producing activities with pisciculture, more commonly known as “fish farming.” Bread and Water for Africa® provided her the “seed” money to construct ponds each containing 3,000 tilapia fish which mature in 90 to 120 days not only providing fish for the children, but making thousands of dollars in profits annually.
And in Zimbabwe, Bread and Water for Africa® partner, Shinga Development Trust, is not set up using modern farming mechanisms such as Baraka Farm, but instead utilizes a more traditional farming method known as “Farming God’s Way.”
As explained by Shinga director Margaret Makambira, “Farming God’s Way” stresses teacher farmers to build a sustainable farming method by managing the land, maintaining minimum wastage, no ploughing, and rotation of the crops.
From large scale modern farming to assisting small holder farmers subsisting on the small tracts of land, Bread and Water for Africa® places a high value on agricultural programs, and rightly so as so many lives depend on the success of farmers, big and small.
Eldoret, Kenya, pop. 300,000, is the fastest growing city in Kenya, the second largest urban center in Midwestern Kenya and the fifth largest urban center in all of Kenya.
It is a sister city to Indianapolis, IN, Ithaca, NY, Minneapolis, MN, and Portsmouth, VA.
It is also home to the Kipkeino Primary School, and to hundreds of children living in the adjacent Lewa Children’s Home who attend the school.
As millions of children in the United States return to school in upcoming weeks, so do millions of Kenyan children, and as noted by Kipkeino school administrator Vimala Sebastian, “In the modern world of today, a computer lab is a necessity.”
At Bread and Water for Africa® we wholeheartedly agree. That is why, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we were able in July to fully fund a new computer lab for the school, along with high-speed internet access.
“When the old system was in use, pupils could rarely access the computers and most of the lessons were theory, which was not interesting,” Vimala said. “Right now, they all crowd around the screens which means the children enjoy the program.”
And the biggest strength of the program says Vimala?
“Students being able to use computers and becoming IT experts. They also use the computers for play which improves their cognitive skills as well as alertness.”
As such is true in Indianapolis, Ithaca, Minneapolis, and Portsmouth, so it is true in Eldoret.