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.

 

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.

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.”

Any child living anywhere in the world is destined for a life of poverty without an education.

Nowhere is that more true than in sub-Saharan Africa which in no way could be described as “a land of opportunity” for those who can’t read or write, add or subtract of have a general knowledge of the world.

Theirs is a life of struggle and despair with no hope for anything better in their life than to labor hard – if they are fortunate enough to find work – eat for a day, and have a place to sleep for the night.

That’s why Bread and Water for Africa® provides funding for school fees and school uniforms for hundreds of children each year in several African countries.

For example, in Cameroon, our partner there Hope Services, enables deserving children whose greatest wish in the world is to go to school with funding provided by supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®.

This year, Hope Services Director Esther Ndichafah expects to enable more than 200 underprivileged children including orphans and what she calls “persecuted children” to go to school, giving them their only chance for success in life.

Her mission, she says, is to give “the underprivileged the same opportunities to be educated like others” and helping transform “poor children into established self-reliant individuals” by encouraging academic excellence.

At Bread and Water for Africa® Esther’s mission is our mission. We strongly believe that education is not a key to success, it is THE key to success.

In the villages of Bangolan and Babungo in Cameroon, as well as Lolo in Chad, secondary school tuition is extremely inexpensive compared to what it costs to educate a child in the United States.

That is unless you are a poor orphan and then it may as well be $1 million.

In Kenya, Bread and Water for Africa® provides funding for secondary school students living at the affiliated Lewa Children’s Home as well as sponsored children in the local community.

Stella Keino of the Lewa Children’s Home stated that by providing school fees for orphans living at Lewa and others “This benefits the Eldoret community and the country as a whole.”

Stella sees short term, medium term and long term outcomes for the students.

In the short term, children will be able to go directly to high school without any disruption to their education with funding for the school fees in place from the start of the school year to the end.

In the medium term, children will be able to attend all the years of high school without worry of how they will pay their school fees year after year.

And in the long term, the students will be able to attain a higher education than they otherwise might not have been able to “and develop themselves to be better citizens.”

In Zimbabwe, working with our partner there, Margaret Makambira, director of Shinga Development Trust, 30 primary school students and 20 secondary school students, will benefit from our school fee support program.

Margaret firmly believes, as do we, that an educated population will empower the nation, build healthy communities and lead to a long-term goal of self-sufficiency as she works to eradicate illiteracy in her community, one child at a time.

The result of our efforts – all of us, Bread and Water for Africa®, our grassroots partners working every day to better the lives of children in the communities, and you, our supporters who make it all possible – is that today hundreds of children are in school instead of the streets, and tomorrow they will have a bright future, leading the way for thousands to follow.

All because of our supporters, Bread and Water for Africa 2016 highlights include:

  • School construction completed in Cameroon
  • 74 orphaned children found a loving home in Kenya
  • 1,006 students received primary and secondary school education in Sierra Leone
  • 146 children in foster care received food support and assistance with school fees in Zambia
  • 207 children benefited from an orphan feeding program in Zimbabwe

Watch here how successful 2016 has been thus far!

Bread and Water for Africa® is proud to announce that the construction of the Dr. Kenneth Gerdes primary school in Cameroon is completed and its doors have just opened to students eager to begin a brand new school year in a brand new school building.

Last year, construction began on the K-5 school building, with more classrooms to come, and we couldn’t be more pleased to hear from school President Julius Esunge that the 130 children who have enrolled now have the opportunity for a quality education.

“We are excited that this dream is coming to fruition,” he added.

And so are we here at Bread and Water for Africa®. There is nothing we love doing more than seeing a person with a dream to help others – literally making the world a better place – realize their dream.

You can see for yourself the smiles on the faces of the happy children who can now rejoice as they too are realizing their dream, a dream of an education and a successful future.
Watch here:

There is nothing we like more at Bread and Water for Africa® than to see a project we have funded come to fruition and be successful.

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Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre’s first fish harvest.

Such is the case of the fish farm we constructed for the Kabwata Orphanage & Transit Centre in Zambia. For the past year, we have worked with our partner there Angela Miyanda from when she first proposed the project which would provide thousands of fish for the children of the orphanage as well as generate a self-sustaining revenue source for Kabwata by selling thousands more annually.

Zambians love fish, eating it every day for at least one meal, and tilapia is among the most popular as it is fast-growing, and tasty.

Today, we have come from when a tilapia farm was just a dream in Angela’s mind to the reality of the first harvest with 70 percent being sold to stores in the capital city of Lusaka, and the other 30 percent set aside for the children.

In just a few months, the small tilapia fry have grown to full size and Angela’s crew have been able to harvest them from the two ponds as they prepare for the next batch.

Angela, who also oversees a banana plantation which supplies bananas to the orphans as well as generating a revenue stream for the orphanage, told us at the time of the construction of the fish ponds that “depending on the outcome of the fish project, we may shift into full time fish farming as it is proving to be less labor intensive.”

She also noted that Zambia has been blessed with many rivers and lakes stocked with a lot of fish, however due economic challenges facing the country people are taking fish of all sizes with no exceptions for the smallest ones who have not attained full size.

Even with a ban that is imposed on Zambians from December to March every year that is designed to help the fish breed, it does not help as many continue to harvest fish illegally, Angela told us.

“Fish farming is new for Zambia,” she said, adding “The community is excited with fish farming because it will be sold in the local community.”

As we seek to do with all our partners, by providing funding for capital projects such as fish farming ponds, we are leading them on a path to self-sufficiency, not perpetual reliance.

And thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide the seed money for the ponds which will provide great returns for the children of Kabwata for many years to come.

 

Education is the future of Africa

Ethiopian classroomWhile we strive to ensure African children have proper nutrition and access to clean water, we also realize they will likely not get far in life without an education. To that end, Bread and Water for Africa® has partnered with Books for Africa for years to ship books to primary and secondary school in Ethiopia. In the past two years, we have shipped nearly 50,0000 books to Sierra Leone and Ethiopia and plans are underway to ship another 20,000 more to Ethiopia in the next few months.

Our partner in Ethiopia, Harmaya University, sponsors more than 50 high schools with a total attendance of nearly 27,000 students who are eager to get more books. The high school students in Ethiopia will benefit more from these books since all the subjects in the secondary schools are taught in English.

This initiative is in line with our mission to promote literacy for African children in the strong belief education aren’t just an investment in the future of Africa – education is the future of Africa.

When the books soon arrive in Ethiopia after weeks of crossing the sea on a cargo ship, scores of young Ethiopian scholars will be able to read new books made possible through your generosity. Supporting programs like this give thousands a chance at a better life and future.

Book Shipment

With your help this summer, Bread and Water for Africa® hopes to raise enough funds to construct a plant in Sierra Leone to process cassava into gari.

So exactly what is cassava?

While most Americans may not have heard of cassava, an edible starchy tuberous root, it is more commonly called “yuca” in Spanish and in the United States.

Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in tropical countries after rice and maize, and is a major food staple in the developing world, providing a basic diet for more than a half a billion people, including millions in Sierra Leone.

In addition, it is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing in marginal soils. It was introduced to Africa by Portuguese traders from Brazil in the 16th century and is now an important staple food, replacing native African crops, and is sometimes described as “the bread of the tropics.”

And what is gari?

Gari is cassava root, dried and ground into flour and, according to our partner in Sierra Leone, Rev. Francis Mambu, executive director of Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO), is a popular West African food constituting a daily meal to some 150 million people worldwide.

Rev. Mambu tells us gari is not only rich in starch, but also very high in proteins and some essential vitamins and is very high in fiber which makes it very filling while preventing bowel disease.

One could say it’s the “superfood” of Sierra Leone.

But why would FHDO want to operate a cassava processing plant?

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The answer is simple, to provide income to women farmers – many who have taken orphans whose parents died in the tragic Ebola outbreak into their homes – as well as generating income for FHDO itself to operate its clinics and schools.

Already, FHDO has planted more than 10 acres of cassava to be distributed to women in the Yainkassa Village in the Bombali District who will plant them on their own land and tend to them until they mature and are ready to be harvested in six months. After the initial harvest, the women farmers will be able to continue harvesting the cassava at three-month intervals.

Once the processing plant is in operation, FHDO will be able to purchase all the cassava the women can grow, guaranteeing them a reliable place to sell what they produce at fair prices.

But then what will FHDO do with all the gari it produces?

And here’s the beauty of this whole plan – FHDO will sell the gari back to the farmers who grew it at wholesale prices so they can go out and sell in their local community markets, in effect selling the same product twice and making two profits.

Why is this processing plant so necessary?

“The people of Sierra Leone were seriously affected by the Ebola virus disease outbreak,” says Rev. Mambu. “Especially the women and children.”

Rev. Mambu told us that women from 11 villages – totaling about 500 farmers – have been targeted to participate in the project.

That amounts to 500 households with thousands of children, many of whom are Ebola orphans who would have nowhere to go except for the caring and compassionate women who have taken them in and given them a loving home.

These women need a steady income to provide for their own children, as well as the ones they have taken in. They need to be able to put food on the table for them – every day – pay their school fees and purchase school uniforms, to be able to pay the medical bills when they get sick.

And the cassava process plant will enable them to do just that.

Rev. Francis Mambu puts it this way: “Access to safe drinking water is a challenge. Presently, the community does not have a running tap.

“The school children travel far distances to fetch water which is really affecting their education.”

Not to mention putting their health and their very lives at risk by being forced to drink water from unsafe sources such as streams, ponds – even puddles in the middle of a muddy unpaved road – risking cholera, dysentery, Typhoid fever and parasites by sipping just even a mouthful.

But what other choice do these girls and their families have?

In 2015, Bread and Water for Africa® provided funding to Rev. Mambu’s organization, Faith Healing Development Organization, to dig a well at a school at the community known as Waterloo in Sierra Leone.

And right now, today, Bread and Water for Africa® is in the process of digging a well in the community of Hill Station which is scheduled to be completed by the end of March.

Imagine, children, primarily little girls who spend their days walking miles back and forth carrying as much water they can put on the their heads will instead be able to go to school.

And, they and their families won’t have to risk serious illness, and even death, drinking water from questionable sources.

Last fall, Bread and Water for Africa® was successful in applying for a $10,000 grant from the Neilom Foundation at the University of Maryland College Park to dig a well at Hill Station. A New Well for Hill Station, Sierra Leone.

Not only will the well serve the Imatt Primary School where it is to be located, allowing children to remain in school instead of fetching water and not taking a life-or-death chance every time they take a drink of water, but thousands of families will also be assured of clean, safe, uncontaminated water for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing – all from just one single well.

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...