On December 9, 1988, the board of directors of Christian Relief Services agreed to provide support to a fledgling orphanage in the town of Eldoret, Kenya.
And with that, Christian Relief Services, the umbrella organization of Bread and Water for Africa®, took the first step in a nearly 30-year mission of providing loving homes for thousands of Africa’s most vulnerable, its orphaned and abandoned children.
Bread and Water for Africa® soon developed close ties with Phyllis Keino, founder of the Lewa Children’s Home, who today remains director of the children’s home and is the longtime international spokesperson for Bread and Water for Africa.®
Phyllis and her former husband, Olympic gold medalist Kip Keino, began their journey of caring for others by taking in a few parentless children in their community who had nowhere else to turn but the streets. Over the years those “few” became “many” as Phyllis could not turn away any child in need who showed up at her doorstep from her home.
By 1990, they had nearly 50 children they were caring for and raising as part of the family – and they realized they could not do it alone.
During the next decade, Bread and Water for Africa® stepped up its support for the children’s home to include funding for paying for all the children’s school fees and building a dormitory.
In the meantime, Bread and Water for Africa® also provided substantial assistance in the construction of a primary school which would serve the children in the surrounding community whose school fees would make it possible for children living at Lewa to attend the new school free of charge.
Bread and Water for Africa® also provided significant resources towards the development of Baraka Farm which would not only provide food for the children at Lewa, but sell the surplus produce on the way to making the children’s home self-sufficient.
By the year 2000, the primary school had been constructed and there were 80 children living in the children’s home, which had grown to 96 children by 2002.
With the realization of the life-altering results being made at the Lewa Children’s Home, in 1999 Bread and Water for Africa® expanded our orphan care program to the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Zambia, founded by Angela Miyanda, the wife of the county’s vice president.
The need for such an orphanage in Zambia was dire as the AIDS/HIV crisis was leaving tens of thousands of young children orphans to struggle to survive alone on the streets. Tragically, many of the young children she took in were born with the virus itself.
In 2000, there were reports of 100 deaths from AIDS-related illnesses each day in the capital city of Lusaka alone, and Angela had made a home for 50 children at Kabwata who were “indeed blessed to be in Mrs. Miyanda’s care,” a Bread and Water for Africa® staff person reported at the time after a field visit to the country.
It was also reported that month that Angela had been able to take a $5,000 grant from Bread and Water for Africa® “and turn an old, shell of a building into a beautiful new dormitory for more than 80 children she currently has in her program.”
By 2003, Bread and Water for Africa® was providing life-saving assistance to more than 400 AIDS orphans in Zambia, and today, Bread and Water for Africa® and Kabwata remain as stronger partners than ever.
Around the same time, Bread and Water for Africa® joined forces with Emmanuel Ministries (later to become Shinga Development Trust) in Zimbabwe by Margaret Makambira providing assistance to orphans in that country as well. Like Kabwata, Shinga remains a partner of Bread and Water for Africa® today, and is looking forward to opening its own children’s home this year.
In 2010, Christian Relief Services founder Gene Krizek described Phyllis as the “Mother Teresa of Africa,” but we believe in 2017 it’s appropriate to name them all the “Mothers Teresa of Africa” as they truly have been, and will always be, the “mothers to thousands.”
On December 9, 1988, nearly 30 years ago, the Board of Directors of Bread and Water for Africa® took up, and approved, the matter of providing support for a little orphanage in a town called Eldoret in Kenya.
The rest, as they say, is history.
From that day forward, Bread and Water for Africa® has been committed to providing help to Africa’s most vulnerable residents – its orphaned and abandoned children who without such assistance would likely have a short life struggling to survive on the streets of villages and towns with no one to care for them, no one to protect them.
It’s likely that no one on the board of the directors that day had any inkling that they were taking the very first step towards what that little orphanage would result into what is today – the Lewa Children’s Home, which has provided a safe sanctuary for hundreds, if not thousands, of little Kenyan boys and girls.
It’s also likely that not even Phyllis Keino herself, founder of Lewa, could have predicted that today that when she took a few children into her home, then constructed what was then a small orphanage to handle the overflow, that now these children, many who have grown into successful adulthood, would all be calling her “mama.”
Since that time beginning with Phyllis, our long-time international spokesperson, Bread and Water for Africa® has expanded our support of orphan care programs to other countries including Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In Zambia, working with our partner Angela Miyanda, director of the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre, we are able to provide a loving home for dozens of orphans, many of who are victims of the AIDS crisis in the country having lost both parents to the deadly disease, and even more tragically, some even born with the virus.
In Zimbabwe, working with our partner Margaret Makambira, director of the Shinga Development Trust, we provide support for a feeding program for orphans in foster care and it is our hope is that one day we will be able to construct an orphanage there similar to Lewa and Kabwata in partnership with Shinga.
We cannot express how proud we are and how fortunate we feel to be able to work side by side by caring, loving women such as Phyllis, Angela and Margaret who care more about the most defenseless in their communities than they do about themselves.
And to think, thousands of children have been rescued, and likely hundreds from possible death on the streets, all because a few men and women sitting around a table in the United States cast a vote for life for the children of Africa.
Access to clean, safe and unpolluted water is a valuable commodity in many places in sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that 90 percent of all serious illnesses in Africa can be linked to contaminated water and poor sanitation.
For decades, Bread and Water for Africa® has made providing access to clean water a key priority by digging wells, ensuring that thousands in the surrounding community no longer have to walk miles fetching water, and literally risking their lives drinking it.
Such was the case in the community of Rutile in Sierra Leone where years ago, working our local partner there, Faith Healing Development Organization, we were able to fund the construction of a well on the grounds of an orphanage providing safe water for all.
But that was before the mining operation “whose activities have resulted in the pollution of all source of drinking water” arrived, we were told by FHDO Executive Director Rev. Francis Mambu.
Sierra Leone is one of the leading producers of bauxite, an aluminum ore and the world’s main source of aluminum, and nearby mining operations have caused the water to be unusable.
However, there is hope. It is possible that with a processing plant, the contaminated water in the well can be filtered and packaged into what are known in the country as plastic “sachets” which can contain between 8 and 12 ounces of water.
“These sachets are commonly bought and sold in all of the markets and streets throughout the country,” said Rev. Mambu who is proposing, with the support of Bread and Water for Africa®, to construct such a plant to not only restore access to safe, unpolluted drinking water for the community, but also provide a means of support to the orphanage where the well is located.
“From all indications, this project will be a lucrative one that will greatly sustain itself due to the demands of clean water in our mining communities, especially now that the dry season is about to begin,” Rev. Mambu told us.
The estimated cost for the processing plant is $16,000, and we at Bread and Water for Africa® are committed to supporting the project in the knowledge that not only will the processing plant restore safe water to those in the village of Rutile, it will also provide much-needed income to the orphanage so that orphaned children in the community will have a home to go to for years to come when there is nowhere else for them to turn.
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.
It’s springtime, and young boys and girls will soon be taking to the diamond with their gloves, balls and bats to play what is arguably the most American of sports – baseball.
But these kids aren’t in Cleveland, Chicago or Cincinnati. They live in Eldoret, Kenya.
Most young children in rural Kenya are happy just to have a soccer ball made of plastic bags or rags and twine, but these children who attend the KipKeino Primary School will soon have equipment that would rival any Little League team in the United States thanks to Chicago White Sox scout John Tumminia.
Bread and Water for Africa® is proud to play a role in helping Tumminia and his organization Baseball Miracles introduce the sport to hundreds of children at the KipKeino Primary School this year – we are sure they will have a ball!
This year, Bread and Water for Africa® will be helping to facilitate the clinics and games for dozens of children who will be introduced to America’s pastime by baseball professionals, many of whom will fall in love the sport that they had yet to have even heard of.
And, who knows, perhaps a few years from now we may be watching one of these young Kenyans throwing a fastball, or hitting a homerun, in a Major League Baseball game on TV. We can all dream, right?