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.
Salim’s story is one that begins with sadness and woe, but ends with happiness and joy.
It starts when he was only four months old when his father took him to a hospital in Kenya where Salim was treated for malnourishment and pneumonia and where a defect was found in his heart which required treatment.
However, with his heart literally broken, the infant child would have his heart broken in a second way when his parents simply disappeared from the hospital without their newborn son, leaving no way for anyone at the hospital to contact them.
When he was able to leave the hospital, Salim was taken to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya. There, he received the care and treatment he needed, and more importantly, he received love.
And, even more good news, after a few additional hospital visits, the doctors were overjoyed to learn that the treatment had worked – the defect in his heart was cured.
Today, Salim is about 8 years old still living at Lewa.
He has transformed from being an extremely sick, abandoned infant into a cheerful child who, has recovered from not one, but two, broken hearts.
“I am Odero!” he proudly exclaims today.
Perhaps the origin of the first human, Kenya has a history extending back many thousands of years.
In recent times, it was a British colony until gaining independence in 1963. From that year until 2002 there were only two presidents. After President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi stepped down in 2002 (after 24 years in power) there have been a series of open elections, though with accusations of fraud each time. The 2007 presidential election between the incumbent Mwai Kibaki and Raili Odinga led to violence amid concerns of vote rigging by the ruling party. More than 1,000 people died in the ensuing turmoil, though the situation has since been peaceful under a coalition government. New elections in March 2013 went off with relatively little violence or upheaval, and was seen preliminarily as a victory for Kenyan democracy.
Varies from tropical on the coast to a dry interior. Landforms also vary, with vast plains and plateaus as well as impressive mountain ranges.
Population – 40.46 million
Median Age – 18.8 years
Population Growth Rate – 2.588%
Life Expectancy – 58.82 years
Literacy – 85.1%
Average Number of Years of Schooling – 10 years (male), 9 years (female)
Urban population – 22%
English and Swahili are both official and widely spoken. Many indigenous languages are spoken throughout the country as well.
Many ethnicities, the largest of which is the Kikuyu (24%). No other single ethnicity consists of more than 14% of the country.
Mostly Christian (78%), with sizeable minorities of adherents to Islam and various indigenous beliefs.
GDP Per Capita – $1,600 (2009 est.)
GDP Composition by Sector:
Services: 62.3% (2009 EST.)
This heavy tilt toward services mostly reflects the tourism industry, which has been the country’s biggest earner of foreign currency in recent years.
Labor Force by Occupation:
Industry and services: 25%
tea, horticultural products, coffee, petroleum products, fish, cement
What it is known for:
• Impressive wildlife and wildlife based tourism
• Safaris and the Serengeti Plain
• Mount Kilimanjaro
BWA’s Focus Areas in Kenya:
• Food Self-Sufficiency
• Orphan Care