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.”
At Bread and Water for Africa® we know a good investment when we see it – and so does our partner in Zambia, Angela Miyanda, founder and executive director of the Kabwata Orphanage & Transit Centre. As with all our partners such as Lewa Children’s Home in Kenya, which receives food and revenue from its Baraka Farm, we strive to help them develop revenue generating operations so that they can ultimately become financially self-sufficient. Several years ago, Angela developed a banana plantation to both provide food to feed the children and also raise money to support the orphanage and make it less reliant on outside donations. The banana plantation has been a success, and over the years she has been able to double its size. But she also realized that revenue from the sales bananas is not going to make enough money to make Kabwata fully self-sufficient so about two years ago she came up with a novel idea – to raise fish in man-made ponds. We at Bread and Water for Africa® agreed with Angela’s vision that raising fish – fast-growing tilapia, which is a staple in Zambia – had great potential. And boy, was she right! More than 5,000 tilapia were harvested in the very batch which grew to maturity in about four months in two ponds, and thousands and thousands more were raised in subsequent harvests. With that proven success, Angela came back to Bread and Water for Africa® with a request for capital funding to construct two more fish ponds in order to be able to double the fish harvest within less than year. Thanks to our supporters, we have now embarked on the construction of two more fish farm ponds, which will double the harvest within the next year and for many years to come as Kabwata continues its process towards self-sufficiency.
Once again, from all of us at Bread and Water for Africa®, our hearts go out to the people of Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone has had a history of natural disasters and violence. In the 1990s they suffered through a horrific civil war, then in 2014 the country lost over 4,000 of its citizens from the deadly Ebola virus outbreak leaving the struggling nation, already among the poorest in the world, devastated.
And then, just as the country was returning to some semblance of normalcy, in the early morning hours of August 14, after days of unrelenting rain, a sea of mud and rock came crashing down into the suburbs of the nation’s capital of Freetown. Initial reports stated 500 are confirmed dead, including 150 children, with more than 600 people still missing. In addition, 20,000 inhabitants, including 5,000 children, have been displaced.
Media reports in the days that followed highlighted the harrowing details of the tragedy, including the fact that the worst is yet to come as rain continued, food and medical supplies are low and it is doubtful that there will be any more survivors found, more than doubling the death toll.
The actual number of victims is difficult to know. Given the force of the mudslide, a volunteer told the British news agency that more than a week after the disaster, “We are still finding body parts in the rubble.”
The most vulnerable are the young children made orphans by this catastrophe.
In an August 24 ABC news report, charities in Sierra Leone (such as Bread and Water for Africa® and our long-time partner, Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO)) “are grappling with how to help the hundreds of children who have lost parents. It is particularly difficult in a country where just two years ago, a deadly Ebola outbreak decimated many families.”
The Sierra Leone government estimates that at least 4,000 children have been affected and humanitarian aid groups, like Bread and Water for Africa®, are racing to help prevent orphaned children from further trauma.
In addition to the challenges of treating their injuries and providing food and shelter, there is the real fear that child traffickers will be seeking to exploit the situation in Freetown.
“They are especially vulnerable right now,” an aid worker told ABC news. “We saw cases like this during the Ebola outbreak where individuals will come in, say they want to care for a child, take him or her into their home and then abuse them. So we are seeing this as a situation that’s ripe for that kind of exploitation and we want to prevent it.”
According to UNICEF, of the 7,000 people that have registered as being affected by the disaster, 15 percent, or 1050 individuals, are children under the age of 5, with another 40 percent, or 2,800 between the ages of 6 and 18.
“Children have been left homeless, vulnerable and terrified,” stated a UNICEF spokesman. “We must do all we can to protect them from disease and exploitation.”
Safe drinking water and shelter are the immediate priorities for thousands of people, according to the United Nations.
With destruction and damage to water and sanitation facilities, a major concern for government and health officials is an outbreak of cholera, malaria and other infectious diseases.
The country’s deputy health minister told CNN that some residents have skin infections from the water they are washing in, and officials are putting in place plans for cholera preparedness and prevention.
“We are equipped to a point,” the deputy minister said. “We can’t do it alone.”
The presidential spokesman has appealed for more international aid including medical supplies, shelters, and blankets to help the city recover but warns that there is “a high risk of cholera” with people still living in the devastated areas, without clean water and sanitation.
“We are overstretched,” he told CNN. “We were just on the verge of recuperating after Ebola and the civil war. We are overwhelmed. Sierra Leone is a small country with a small economy and we cannot do this alone…we appeal very passionately to the world to come to our aid.”
The World Health Organization reports that it is working closely with the Sierra Leone government to prevent the spread of malaria, cholera, typhoid and diarrheal conditions in the wake of last week’s mudslides and flooding. Community workers are being trained to recognize the signs of these deadly diseases in areas at risk.
What Bread and Water for Africa® is Doing Today
During the deadly Ebola outbreak of 2014, Bread and Water for Africa® was there working hand-in-hand with FHDO in their efforts to provide medicines and food to thousands.
And thanks to our generous supporters, we are there for them once again.
With food and medicine in short supply, we teamed up with our partner, MAP International, to have emergency medicine immediately airlifted to the country.
In addition, we have teamed up with FHDO to provide food and other medical supplies.
With the funding we received from our donors, FHDO Executive Director Rev. Frances Mambu was able to purchase rice, oil and many other food and hygiene items for the injured, hungry and homeless.
And in a few weeks we will be shipping a 20-foot container of more medicines and medical supplies recognizing that the pain and suffering will continue for the months to come.
With sincere thanks to our supporters and partners, Bread and Water for Africa® will be doing all we can to alleviate the suffering of thousands in Sierra Leone.
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.”
A serious drought is having “immense impact” on people’s lives and livelihoods in Ethiopia, stated a United Nation Emergency Relief Coordinator who visited the country in January.
The UN News Service reported that Ethiopian farmers are “still living on the brink…and struggling to sustain themselves and their families. Farmers are already fleeing their homes in search of water.”
And this is the case in a region of the country known as Kombolcha.
“Tragic,” you might say to yourself in sympathy for those affected. “But what can I do?”
For one thing, you can participate in the Bread and Water for Africa® Generosity Series 5K to be held Sunday, June 11, at Anacostia Park in Washington, DC. At only 3.1 miles, the event accommodates runners of all ages and abilities, walkers and the differently-abled as well.
Our mission has long included bringing clean, safe water to those communities in Africa most in need.
Through the 5K run/walk, Bread and Water for Africa® is hoping to make our goal of $11,500 to dig a water well in a region of the country known as Kombolcha. The well would serve an estimated 130 families – each with an average of six family members – providing water to 780 children, women and men.
“Woha hiyiweti newi” means “Water is life” in the Amharic language spoken in Kombolcha. The “Woha (Water ) for Kombolcha” 5K will help us in our mission to give water, and indeed life, to families in Ethiopia.
As the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator stated after seeing the dire situation in the country, “We need to act now before it’s too late. “We have no time to lose.”
For more information on the “Woha (Water ) for Kombolcha” 5K Run/Walk, or sign up to participate, please click here.