On December 9, 1988, Gene Krizek, founder of Christian Relief Services, announced at its board of directors meeting that “An appeal is going out this month to support Kip Keino’s orphanage.”
That appeal ultimately led to the formation of Christian Relief Services’ affiliate Bread and Water for Africa®, and nearly 33 years later the action taken by Gene and the board of directors has had resulted in hundreds of thousands of lives of those in sub-Saharan African countries being not just transformed, but in many, many cases literally saved.
Today, Bread and Water for Africa® continues to support the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya, still being operated by our international spokesperson Phyllis Keino all these years later, as well as similar children’s homes programs in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone.
In addition to our orphan care programs, we currently support clean water, healthcare, agricultural, educational, and income-generating programs in Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
And now, it is with my utmost heartfelt and personal sadness that, as the Executive Director of Bread and Water for Africa®, I am announcing the passing of our cherished founder was know by our partners as “Papa” Gene.
As I shared the news of Gene’s passing to our partners, comments poured in from our partners expressing their grief and sympathy for his family, especially his wife, Adeline (known as “Addy” who just died a month before her husband of more than 60 years and who herself was a strong supporter of Bread and Water for Africa®, as well as their son, Bryan, CEO of Bread and Water for Africa® who is carrying out his parents’ legacy, as well as our entire Bread and Water for Africa® family.
From Zimbabwe, Margaret Makambira, founder and director of the Shinga Development Trust and the Lerato Children’s Village, expressed her heartfelt condolences saying, “It is with deep regret that we learnt about the passing away of these two great icons.
“Shinga Development Trust and the Lerato Children’s Village are the fruit of his vision and love for Africa. We in Zimbabwe had been waiting for the day he would visit us to see that fruit of his labors.
“We will always cherish the memory of his works which will go a long way to benefit many future generations.”
From Zambia, Angela Miyanda, founder and director of the Kabwata Children’s Home, recalled the day in May, 1998, she first met Gene at the offices of Christian Relief Services during a visit to the U.S. saying, “That was the beginning of our long friendship which materialized into the long-term help of the children of Zambia.”
Angela noted that in her appreciation of “your vision of helping children in need,” that she named her school the Eugene L. Krizek Preschool and Day Care Center.
“We stand by to testify that you have run your race…now may you go and receive the rewards of your sweat on Earth. Many of the prayers of the children in need benefitted from your hands of kindness.
“We will always remember, and your love in embedded in our lives forever. Your good works have gone ahead of you. Sleep well and we forever remain indebted to you. Go well and meet again your loving wife, Addy. Farewell…”
From Cameroon, Esther Ndichafah, founder and director of Hope Services, told us, “He was indeed my father, Father of the Orphans, the Poor, the Prisoners, the Displaced, the Hopeless.
“That is Papa Eugene Krizek. He put on the shoes of God, he walked with and worked for God.”
Esther said the first time she met the man she called Papa, “I saw a man with a big heart for humanity. I saw a man so selfless. Papa received me in his office, listened with full attention and was captivated by my story and my heart for the needy.
“At the end, Papa held my hands and kissed my hands. I felt loved beyond imagination. I saw a connection of partnership in the spirit for the poor and the needy. I felt reassured. Since then, I became an adopted daughter. I found myself in the company of Beth and others for the sake of humanity in Africa.
“Under his leadership, Hope Services has served Africa immensely. Villagers have water to drink, the poor have medication without money, the prisoners have had surgeries free of charge, the needy have had free medical care, they have received clothes to wear, they have been given food to eat.
“Bangolan Village in Cameroon has a Multipurpose Skills Centre, Hope Services second Hospital has been opened in Douala and many have been saved and healed from different diseases and oppressions. Many pregnant women have given birth to their children with ease and had some clothes, soap and body lotion because of your effort.
“Widows in Cameroon have being able to take part in our microloan project to take care of themselves and have sent children to school because of him.
“Because of Papa Krizek we have enrolled over two hundred children now in Chad since the last six years in school. The first two are now in the university in Chad. The first one in Cameroon graduated from University in Cameroon. More will enter university this year.
“Papa Krizek has left a legacy. He is not gone. He still lives because his work and memories will speak and act for generations to come.”
From Sierra Leone, Rev. Francis Mambu, founder and director of Faith Healing Development Organization, said that today, “even though we are mourning the passing of Gene Krizek, we are also celebrating him for his steadfastness and love towards humanity.
“The way that Pa Krizek diligently carried out his service to humanity up to the day of his demise demonstrated that he was a man on a mission.
“I came to know about the late Gene Krizek and his organization, Bread and Water for Africa®, in 1998, during the peak of the rebel war in Sierra Leone.
“During this dark period of our nation’s history, my organization was in desperate need of medical supplies and food particularly for persons displaced by the war. He responded to our call with open hands and supplied us with medicines, and medical supplies and food.
“Today, through the support of Bread and Water for Africa®, which is our major partner, we have established a total of six school campuses in Freetown and the provinces, as well as established clinics in Freetown and the provinces. Apart from these, BWA is also helping us with our agricultural activities at Yankansa and Rutile.
“Through his organization, he has impacted thousands of vulnerable Sierra Leoneans who were living in very difficult circumstances and his works and deeds will forever remain in our minds.
“He has completed his work assigned to him by God while it was day for him and has gone to inherit his crown from the Lord. He has left us to continue the work of compassion and concern. We should continue to maintain his legacy and further build on his footprints in the sands of time.
“Finally, let me remind you of the words of a great Missionary; ‘I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.’
“Indeed, Gene Krizek passed this way, and impacted many lives with his charm, charisma, intelligence, devotion to duty and commitment to the service of humanity. We will forever miss him”.
As for myself, I remember fondly the first time I met “Dad” Gene. My heart know I had found my quest to be working under his leadership to continue following in his footsteps to serve those most hurting people, especially children and women around the world.
And I will never forget the words he once spoke to me which will remain in my heart forever as I seek to continue on his journey: “Remember, every day is an opportunity to make the world a better place for everyone, and always continue fighting the good fight.”
It is how Gene Krizek, with his loving wife Addy always at his side, lived his life. It is his legacy.
Bread and Water for Africa®