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The Girl Wearing a Classmate’s Underwear

Human dignity becomes secondary when poverty dictates whether someone will have a meal or not, where and how they live and if a girl has underwear or not.

The challenges facing some of the girls sponsored by Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope (CHHH) are heartbreaking. For me, they are not new. It is, however, the depth of these girls’ psychological suffering and how their education is impacted, that creates new wounds as well as retrieving some bitter memories of my childhood years. One of the sponsored girls’ story reminded me of two incidents still vivid in my mind.
It’s close to 45 years ago, but I still recall the day my mother bought my young sister her first underwear. The structure we called our house was about 50 yards from where my grandfather’s hut was. I was sitting next to my grandfather, a great storyteller—when not under the influence of traditional liquor, when we heard, “Nau, Nau, ona suwali wakwa!” “Grandpa, Grandpa, see my underwear!”

It was my sister (five or six years old) who wanted Grandpa to see her first underwear. In the culture I grew up in, underwear was a sacred possession not for public display. But my sister was so overjoyed she had to show it to her grandpa.

I wish God could erase the memory of the second poverty-related girl’s underwear incident. From time to time, female teachers would inspect girls’ cleanliness in my elementary school while male teachers inspected the boys in a separate classroom. One day, there was a thunder of laughter in the classroom where the girls were.
A girl in 6th grade was wearing torn underwear and a teacher lifted up her dress and displayed it for the others to see. I was in 3rd grade and that girl’s name is the only name I remember of all the students in the 4th-7th grade other than my relatives. I still see her humiliated face as she walked home alone. She had been summarily dismissed from school until she could wear decent underwear.

My sister and my schoolmate at least had their mothers with whom they could talk to about their predicament. The CHHH student who was courageous enough to discuss her inhuman challenges lost her mother ten years ago when she was young. A bright student with astonishing self-discipline, focus and determination to be somebody someday, she sometimes misses classes due to lack of hygiene supplies.

That is a predicament of thousands of girls living in poverty-stricken families, whether they are orphans or not. Lack of affordable sanitary pads can have devastating lifelong consequences for adolescent girls in developing countries. Unable to afford sanitary pads, countless girls resort to dangerous alternatives, including recycling used pads, or using mattresses or unthinkable replacements.

Yet, sanitary pads, for an entire school term—4 months, cost about $25-$30.

Culture plays a significant role in the young girls’ dilemma. Traditionally, girls were provided feminine education by their mothers and grandmothers as they worked together. But today, a large number of girls are orphans or have only one parent, a jobless father. Feminine and sex related matters are still a taboo between fathers and their daughters.

Keeping girls in school delays their sexual debut and makes early marriages and relationships with older men less likely. A recent report by UNICEF on Kenya found that while 40% of high school age or younger females, not in school, reported having had sex, the analogous number for females within the same age group who stay in school is 16%.

It has been said that when you educate a girl, you educate an entire community. We want to make sure no girl will stay at home because of the lack of sanitary pads. We want to equip them to get better education, provide for their families and be positive contributors in their communities. Our prayer and hope is to see girls excel in school and take up professional, high-paying jobs.

Mother Teresa told us that, “We cannot do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Through Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope, your kindness and generosity can do a great thing for a girl! To help, please mail your check to CHHH, Box 7152, Boise, Idaho 83707.

Posted by admin at December 5, 2013 10:54 pm | No Comments »

Injustices that Hurt the Girl Child

“I wish I had somewhere else to go to, instead of my home, when schools close.” Betsy, one of the girls sponsored by Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope CHHH), uttered that sentence on January 25, 2013, with a voice that still makes me sad. Her mother’s story had already made the audience cry. It is the way her mother’s head sunk (left photo), with a despair only experienced by a mother who has nothing to offer a child with potential. Such despair resurfaces often as I meet girls and women like Betsy and her mother.

injusticeThe words unearthed bitter memories of how her own potential was unjustly squelched because she was born a girl. When Betsy’s mother was in elementary school, she studied hard like all Kenyan children, in order to pass the 8th level grade exams.  Her performance was exceptional and she was admitted at Moi Kabarak High School.

It’s hard for me write this, but her father, although capable of paying tuition, refused to educate her. My own mother suffered the same fate. In her youth, this was a common and generally accepted decision for families with limited resources. They didn’t invest in girls’ education. It was reasoned that, a girl’s education would benefit the family of her future husband. But that was in 1940s.

The one room house (see below) shared by 7 children, mother and grandmotherBetsy’s mother married a man who provided basic needs for his growing family. He unfortunately died and left his widow with seven children, Betsy being the first-born. That was the beginning of a future of emptiness.

injustice-02By God’s grace, Betsy’s potential was known by her second grade teacher, who also knew the family’s financial woes. That teacher, a member of CHHH Kenya committee, contacted me after Betsy passed her 8th grade exams and had been languishing at “home” with no hope of ever joining high school. A caring sponsor from Eagle, Idaho, paid her freshman year’s tuition, $500 that covers uniform, room and board, shoes, books and school supplies.

“Why would a child not want to go home?” is a question that occupied my thoughts until I asked and received pictures of a one-room, mud-thatched structure with obviously rotting and leaking corrugated iron roofing, a structure that housed the seven children, their mother and their grandmother. The Cloverdale Church of God, Boise, raised $2,500 to build the family a house with two bedrooms and a living room and outdoor pit latrine.

injustice-03My son, Kithetheesyo Muli (far left in the photo), Beth Schaefer, Jackie Moran and Carrie Barton (sponsors of CHHH) and I visited Betsy’s family in July, mainly to see the progress of the house construction.

A few yards from Betsy’s unfit–for- human dwelling, was a well-fenced compound with a big modern house, separate kitchen and other small houses and flourishing trees. It is the home of Betsy’s uncle who was her mother’s classmate in 8th grade. She had better grades, but their father chose to educate him, because of his gender. He is a teacher. Betsy’s mother is a beggar. That is when my heart sank as Betsy’s mother’s head had when she heard her own child’s wish—not wanting to go home.

Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope is changing the world, one child at time. We are currently raising $1.3 million to purchase a nine acre high school facility for 240 girls. It has eight completed classrooms, a dorm that accommodates 220 students, 20 showers, 20 toilets, and 14 outside pit latrines, 2013 school bus (52 seater), completed houses for two teachers, a temporary kitchen and a dining hall, a three acres sports field, one acre garden, three sources of electricity (solar, generator, hydro) and several water tanks and a borehole.

Our high school girls will now be able to study without interruptions, have adequate food, counseling and guidance and youth development programs. We will increase, by more than 50%, the number of students we support with the current amount of sponsorship. This is because there will be no unexpected tuition and fee increases.

Posted by admin at December 5, 2013 10:36 pm | No Comments »

Unexpected Kindness and Generosity

“Tutawatoa chini!” She said after handing me a white envelope that had “All For One Choir” inscribed on it. On the lower right hand corner was the word LOVE with a hand drawn heptagon (seven sided polygon) around it. It was hours later when I became emotionally comfortable to open that envelope. In it was one of the most memorable donations I have ever received for any of the charitable organizations I have raised funds for.

The value of the bills, totaling $20, who gave it, and the way it was given and her words made me feel as if I had been given millions of dollars.

The Congolese children, all refugees, attending the Collister United Methodist church in Boise, Idaho, watched slides of the orphans, children of widows and those from poverty-stricken families in Kenya who are sponsored through Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope. I showed the girls who were in danger of either being forced into early marriage, child labor or prostitution because they couldn’t afford high school tuition of $500/year.

They saw how soon the face of a child with torn clothes, poor body condition and a defeated unhappy expression, could be transformed by people who care. The transformed child, wearing school uniform, kempt hair and a smile common to those with hope, stood in school in Kenya next to her sponsor from Boise.

What creates a lump in my throat are the vivid images of new Americans and families as they settle in their new homeland. I have had to take some of them boxed lunches from the Boise Rescue Mission. The Idaho Foodbank, knowing that most of these children may not have lunch when schools are closed, started a humanitarian program — taking food and distributing it to children at the public parks in the Treasure Valley area.

These are the children who heard that I needed to raise $1.3 million to purchase a high school facility for girls. The girls will have food, study without interruptions, receive counseling and guidance as well as other youth development programs in a safe environment and vocational training. With Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope operating the school, we could double the number of students we serve with today’s current sponsorship.

It was about a month after I gave the presentation when I went back to the church, to celebrate its 100th anniversary. On my way to the car, I heard, “Baba Kituku!” When I turned, I saw two young girls from the choir following me. One of them handed me the envelope and said, “This is for the children you help in Kenya” in Swahili. They explained that it was specifically contributed by the All For One Choir (the name they call their amazing children’s singing group).

As they left, one of them turned and said, “Tutawatoa chini!” We will get them from the ground!” I was speechless. I just cried. They had saved whatever they could for over a month to help children from the continent they had left behind. They gave it with love.

I immediately entered their group’s name and the amount they contributed in the database — and naturally registered in my heart that they are among the major donors of this project.

From that moment, I knew God, who touched the hearts of those children to give out of the abundance of their need, has the remaining funds for the project somewhere.

If you want to experience fulfillment and make each day a Thanksgiving Day, try getting someone from “their ground.” You won’t have to worry about the trivial matters that keep us down.

To learn more about CHHH, please visit www.caringheartsandhandsofhope.com or call Dr. Vincent Kituku at (208) 376-8724.

Posted by admin at December 5, 2013 10:35 pm | No Comments »

A COMMUNITY UNITED: Group wants to wipe out Kenyan poverty

The following article appeared in the Idaho Press Tribune on August 26, 2013.

Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope is a Boise-based organization that wants to eradicate poverty in Kenya by helping orphans, children of widows and those from abject poverty with high school tuition costs.

Today in Kenya, 56 percent of the people earn less than a dollar a day. Natural disasters, especially famines, are common in traditional farming areas where survival depends on rainfall and good weather. People in these areas become dependent on relief food, mostly from non-governmental organizations.

Idaho Press-Tribune: What is your organization’s goal and how do you accomplish it?

Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope: The problems of poverty and famine in Kenya are compounded by the effects of HIV/AIDS. Over one million children are orphans due to AIDS. This has led to the increased number of children having no one at all to care for them. When both parents die, their future is lost.

Elementary school education is free in Kenya, but children who pass the national eighth grade exams to join high school must pay tuition. Unfortunately, thousands of needy boys and girls cannot amass the necessary funds. Thus boys do easily turn to a life of crime, drugs or alcohol while girls are in danger of turning into prostitution or being forced to early marriage.

Providing handouts is a short-sighted approach. Educating the youth is a long-term solution that will create a nation of educated professional contributors.

IPT: What is the history of your organization?

CHHH: Established in 2010, Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope (CHHH) has sponsored more than 230 needy orphans and children of widows. There were orphans who would repeat eighth grade three or more times because they lacked the $500 a year high school tuition. In February 2010 a mother of six committed suicide because she could not afford the high school tuition her daughter needed.

The need for a long term solution, as provided by CHHH, was long overdue.

Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, EIN 27-3127770, so donations are tax deductible. Currently, 160 students – 143 in high school and 17 in universities and colleges – are sponsored. The students must have passed eighth grade exams and have been admitted to a high school.

The CHHH governing board is in Idaho while in Kenya an all-volunteer committee that oversees the welfare of the organization is composed of teachers and pastors. They are aware of the conditions of the students in their communities who pass exams but can’t enroll in high school unless financially assisted. Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope sponsors students regardless of their tribe, religion or gender, although it emphasizes the need to educate more girls. When you educate a girl, you educate an entire community.

CHHH has also constructed five houses for widows and provided school and personal hygiene supplies for some of the most vulnerable girls.

Here is what Misyani Girls High School Principal Angelina Munyasya says: “Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope has given hope where there was none. It has given a new lease on life to very needy students and especially in Misyani girls. Their future which was blank is now assured.”

IPT: How do you raise money? How do you use that money?

CHHH: Funds for sponsorship are donated by individuals who learn about the organization through articles and presentations to corporations, schools or churches. There are also people who learn about it online at www.caringheartsandhandsofhope.com. It costs about $500 per year to educate a needy child in high school. That covers room and board, books, shoes and uniform and other education-related expenses.

What’s unique about Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope is that 100 percent of the donations are used for the purpose they are donated. The funds are not given to government officials, students, guardians or school principals. Funds are deposited directly into the school’s bank account for the sponsored student and the school is given the deposit slip.

Sponsors are provided with a photo, background information and school contacts for their student(s) and are updated on their student’s academic performance at the end of each school term.

http://www.idahopress.com/members/a-community-united-group-wants-to-wipe-out-kenyan-poverty/article_9e160afe-0e0e-11e3-a262-0019bb2963f4.html

Posted by admin at December 5, 2013 10:30 pm | No Comments »

The Face of a Heartbreaking Story

I was in a hurry to the hall where I was to speak, thus no time to look at the photo that had been taken of me and the four students. When I at last saw the photo, I was sad. I felt insensitive as I noticed that I was the only one smiling. None of the orphans that posed with me had a reason to smile.

Two days before the students were brought to meet me, I entered the office of the principal where they all had attended elementary school. It was the school I left in 1974. Without revealing who I was, I asked the principal how the 8th grade students had performed and how many were to join high school (in Kenya, not all 8th grade students pass the high school entrance exam). He had the list of the students with him and started showing me the names of those who passed.

He reached the name of one girl and fell silent. When he gathered himself, all he said, “Yii niyo mwaka wa keli wa kelitu kaa kwika mutiani uu nesa, indi kaithi sukulu.” This is the second year for this girl to pass this exam so well, but she will not be going to high school.

Pauline (15), the girl in a red sweater, is an orphan. When her parents died, she was left under the care of poor grandparents. They too died and left her with a maternal aunt. In 2009 she sat for the national 8th grade exam and passed but lacked the minimum $300 (last year it was $250) tuition and fees to join high school. The solution was to have her repeat 8th grade. Because primary school education is free, the hope was that she would spend a few more years before she is big enough to get married. In 2010 she passed again and without help from a well-wisher, she was again destined to be in the 8th grade in 2011.

Mueke (15), the girl in blue, is a victim of the complexities of illiteracy and poverty. This girl too was supposed to repeat 8th grade until “maturity.”

Kimani (18), the tall boy, is a sophomore. A child of a widow, Kimani had passed the exam several times before he decided to go to a high school near his home at 17, but he spent more time at home than in school due to lack of tuition and fees.

Dominic (18), the boy on my left, visually impaired, started school at the age of 10. His poverty level is so devastating that the school had to adopt him. He became the first blind student from our school to pass and secure admission at a prestigious school for the blind. Misery spares no one.

I, too, was a freshman in high school at 18, but for reasons other than being orphaned and without someone to pay for my education. I was born and raised by two parents. It’s hard for me to imagine life of a poor child without parents in Africa where there are no governmental support systems. As a father of three girls, my heart trembles when I think of a girl waiting to be big and get married in 8th grade instead of joining high school.

Yet if someone makes a small sacrifice of $300/year, a destitute girl or a boy has hope of becoming a teacher, a medical doctor, engineer, police, public leader, accountant or preacher to name a few opportunities for Kenyan students who are privileged to attend high school.

I had no choice but to help these children. The two girls are now in the same high school and each had a B+ in their first term’s performance report. Kimani, after being in school for three months without interruption, was number 24 out of 212 students in his class. I have not yet received Dominic’s report.

To help, mail a check to Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope Inc, Idaho United Credit Union. P.O Box 7152, Boise, ID 83707

Posted by admin at December 5, 2013 10:29 pm | No Comments »

Kenyans Thirst for Education, Professional and Personal Growth

A few years ago, I brought to your attention the story of the now late Kimani Nga’ang’a Murage, a Kenyan who at 82 enrolled as a First Grader soon after the Kenya government made elementary education free. The thirst for education, professional and personal growth in Kenya is astonishing, and inspirational.

Now, Mr. Rufinus Arap Taa (http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/858060/-/vq1qab/-/index.html) is a fresh man in high school at 75.

What you will not read or hear from the media is the unequaled desire, commitment and sacrifice professionals invest in pursuit for education, professional and personal growth.

In my recent visit, I was privileged to visit and speak all four Toastmasters clubs (open to any one who wants to better his/her public speaking skills– www.toastmasters.org). What I observed and experienced is beyond description even though I have been an active member and financial sponsor of new members for almost two decades and I have visited over 100 Toastmasters clubs. Here is the evidence:

  • A normal weekly meeting attended by more than 50 individuals
  • All attendees staying in a meeting until the end
  • Guests paying to attend a meeting (in some places, guests have to be given incentives or members “treated” in order to invite guests)
  • Consistency among all clubs in Nairobi
  • Detailed evaluations
  • A speaker being recommended to repeat their speech

What happened during my seminar on How to Speak and Get Paid was moving. The seminar was scheduled to end at 3:30 p.m. on the second day but only one participant had left by 6:00 p.m. and the reason was to pick up her child. The seriousness of their desire to learn was evident from the depth of questions they asked and the ferocious taking of notes. For a week and a half after the seminar, I was either conducting face to face or phone consultations daily.

Anthony Gitonga, author and one of Kenya’s amazing speakers booked not only for consulting time when he learned I was to be there but also invited and made arrangements for me to spend a night at his house, even though we had never met or known of each other.

It has been said that, “The road to success is always under construction.” To grow and remain relevant in what you do and/or as a person, you have to continue “constructing” your professional and personal dreams.

Posted by admin at December 5, 2013 10:26 pm | No Comments »

This is a Miracle

What made me look up was a basic sentence, “Mwana usu aema uthi sukulu wa kwambililya ndeasya mwanya wake” That child will forfeit her admission if she does not join the school on Monday, in my native Kikamba language. What I witnessed, a father shedding tears in public, kept my interest.

In February 4, 2010, I was at a cyber café in Nairobi, Kenya, checking my emails when a man watching his friend check emails from a computer next to mine received a phone call. It wasn’t long before he said those words. He stared at a spot on the floor. When he looked up, I noticed tears streaming from his eyes. He ended the call, saying, “Nyie ndyisi undu ngwika” I don’t know what to do.

I pulled my chair closer and asked what he was talking about. He was talking to his wife about their daughter who had passed high school admission exams. She was supposed to enter a high school the following Monday with full tuition and fees otherwise her spot would be given to someone else. But his family didn’t have the total amount required. They needed Ksh.8,000 ($106.70).

That was two days after Kenya’s main newspaper reported on a mother of six who committed suicide because she couldn’t afford to pay for her daughter to join high school tuition.

I didn’t know how to get involved but I asked this stranger to show me his identity card and make me a copy of it. I requested he write his daughter’s name and the school where she had been admitted. I asked him if I could call and talk to his wife. He granted me permission. Nothing unusual except the fact that this man had never seen me, didn’t know who I was or why I needed all the information he had so obediently provided. Imagine giving a stranger your personal information and that of your spouse and child. Desperation has no privacy.

After I talked to his wife I gave the man $106.70 and $26.70 more for books. All he said was, “Kii ni kyama” This is a miracle. He kept repeating those words as I tried to learn more about him. He is a part time driver with five children and had bought food with all his money because of three consecutive years of famine.

Another miracle happened on my flight back to Idaho. The first person I shared that story with promised to be a sponsor of a child in Kenya. The check arrived two days after I emailed her where to send it.

Orphans, children of widows and/or single mothers and from poor families have no future in Kenya unless God performs miracles. Your contribution, no matter the amount you are capable of, is a miracle.

Every penny contributed for a student is used to pay for their education. To help, mail a check to Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope, Idaho United Credit Union, P.O Box 2268, Boise, ID 83701 or call (208) 376-8734 and get details on how you can help a student directly and get his/her  photo and their school’s contact information.

Posted by admin at December 5, 2013 10:25 pm | No Comments »

The Suffering of Families and Young Girls in Famine Stricken Kenya

We see skeletons of cattle or the emaciated bodies of those about to die lying on grassless soils of Kenya. We see famine relief workers holding bowls of liquid food for young children whose bodies have shrunken as hopeless parents watch. The pain seen on a mother’s lifeless face that is placed in between her bony hands tells of how a famine punishes the living before death claims them.

Your heart breaks when you know what happens to families, women and young girls. Famine breaks families. As I continue to monitor the current famine in Kenya, I recall a woman who was remotely related to my mother coming with her two children to live with us in 1966 (we were not better off but we had one meal a day). She had left her unemployed husband when he couldn’t provide for them.

I have just been informed that some famine stricken families are breaking up. I had called to ask why, in the reports I got, there were different members in 3-5 of the families we have been helping with food. What shocked me is pastor Kiseve’s reply. “Mr. Kituku, I was just counseling one of those men. His wife took their children away to go search for food.”

Some of these families may re-unite, out of necessity, once the famine is over. There is, however, no guarantee they will ever be the same again.

That brought to my mind another huge problem. Young girls, sometimes even when they are still of elementary school age, are given to marriage for “practical reasons.” That means there is one less mouth to feed in her family. There is, also a chance of getting a dowry, no matter how meager that is. In the face of death the unthinkable happens.

When a young girl is pulled from school and given to marriage (most likely to uneducated husband), that is perpetuation of the circle of poverty. Her daughter(s) will likely be subjected to the same short sighted perceived hunger survival escape.

We can help save a young girl from being forced to marriage, a family from breaking up and/or being claim by death. A 180 lbs sack of corn costs about $35-40 and 90 lbs of a ½ sack of beans costs about $64-85.That can feed a family of 5-6 people for about 30 days. Rain is finally back and by March/April, the agony of famine maybe a thing of the past.

Again, 100% of your support is used for food. To help, mail a check to Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope, Idaho United Credit Union, P.O Box 2268, Boise, ID 83701 or to any group that is already helping. To learn more about the situation, just Google Kenya famine or call (208) 376-8734.

Posted by admin at December 5, 2013 10:24 pm | No Comments »

Thank You for Saving Lives in Kenya

It is true. There are times when no human language can truly express the depth of appreciation in one’s heart. But please allow me to say THANK YOU for hearing my cry and contributing your resources, even during these economic hard times, to save lives of famine stricken Kenyans.

My prayer, plan and hope was to write this thank you letter sooner. However, I discovered that I am not immune to being depressed by witnessing human suffering. Thus I have been an emotional wreck since traveling to Kenya and witnessing first hand the devastating effects of three years of drought, pathetic governmental leadership and AIDS.

Your contributions saved lives. You kept families together. During famine couples sometimes have to separate in search of food.  You protected underage girls from being forced into marriage—which is often a survival strategy. You helped prevent mothers from using their bodies to raise income and provide meals to their children.

I visited the people you helped from starving to death. I was astonished beyond measure. You see cattle skeletons, the evidence of lost livelihood. You see so many brilliant young boys and girls out of school because their parents can’t afford $150-$250 per year tuition since every penny had been spent on whatever meager food they could get.

It took me more than a month after I came back to the United States to regain a balanced perspective and sit at a restaurant and order a decent meal. How could I be blind to the suffering of the mother of six who hanged herself because she could not afford to pay tuition for her daughter to attend high school? How was I supposed to live knowing one of Kenya’s college bright stars, an orphan whose parents were claimed by AIDS, was at home languishing because he cannot afford $200/semester to continue his university education?

Or how could I erase the emptiness I experienced with pastor Kiseve and his wife when we visited a single mother whose son had been sent home from school for lack of Ksh.8,000 ($105) needed for his high school senior year exam fees and tuition.

My question for the mother was, “What are you to do?”  “Nothing” was her only response.

Thank you, that you didn’t do “nothing” when you read about the famine problem in Kenya. The rains have come in some parts of the country. But not everyone planted since many people had used the seeds for food. However, if the rains continue, by August this year, food availability will not be an issue. There will be people to eat it because you played a significant role in their assistance.

But a non-government and targeted long term strategy is the solution that can prevent masses from starving in future famines. The orphans and children of widows are being left behind because of lack of school tuition. For the widows, we are providing either a cow for milk or steers and a plough to work on their gardens and/or hire them out for income.

We sent tuition directly to the schools of high school and public university students who are orphans or children of widows. That way the money is used for the purpose it’s intended for. If you are a sponsor ($250/year for a high school student, and $400/year for a university student) you will be given the student’s name, school and contact information.

Thank you for saving lives in Kenya.

Posted by admin at December 5, 2013 10:24 pm | No Comments »

Help Save a Child from Starving to Death

As a young boy growing up in Kangundo, Kenya, Chapati (flied tasty wheat bread) was Christmas. My family, like many others could only afford it on Christmas. This Christmas, many Kenyan children and their parents will not have anything to eat.

Children and their parents in Kenya are starving to death as a result of a famine brought about by three consecutive years of drought.

My earliest recollection of the hurtful experience of hunger was in the mid 1960s. We ate one meal a day at night. It was Ngima ya muvya, dough made of millet flour. It tasted like soil. But we had “food.” In 1972, there was another famine that again relegated my family to one solid meal at night and porridge for lunch.

Both famines were short lived and families were able to return to reasonably diverse dietary portions.  The current famine catastrophe has brought bad memories of students fainting in class because of hunger. I recall a woman who had to go to a neighbor’s garden at night to steal bananas after her son had starved to near death.

This 2007-2009 famine has reached a new, albeit devastating height. It’s killing my neighbors. I was born and raised is an area with average to above average rainfall, I have never heard of anyone dying of hunger like in drier parts of the country. My father just informed me a neighbor I know died. I went to school with his children. By developing nation’s standards, his family was a middle class.

In some parts of the country, schools have had to close to allow pupils to scavenge for food. Johnston Kiseve, a pastor I have known for twenty five years talked of how hunger has forced women, even churchgoers to unthinkable acts of prostitution to save their children. It is heartbreaking to think of the repercussions of these low acts in areas where deaths from aids are more common than births.

What, however, is humbling is to know how possible it is to save lives. The congregation of the Boise based Faith Evangelical Church has donated about $4,000 this year. People have given $5, $10 or whatever their heart feels moved to give. That has fed over 1,000 people. Mothers are spared the agony of watching their children die or becoming prostitutes.

Not a single penny is send to the corrupt officials or used for administrative costs. All, 100% of the contributions is used to help mothers feed their children. We require and get the names of all recipients, the number of the members in their families and the quantity of corn and beans they receive.

To help, mail a check to Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope, Idaho United Credit Union, P.O Box 2268, Boise, ID 83701 or to any group that is already helping with the situation. To learn more about the situation, just Google Kenya famine or call (208) 376-8734.

Posted by admin at December 5, 2013 10:22 pm | No Comments »