The last time I was in Kenya, I spent some time working in the preschools. The little ones stole my heart and absolutely amazed me. They walked to school every day without adult supervision and in many cases without shoes. Every day at lunch time the teacher would ask all of them to line up single file, then they would sing a little song and the teacher would make some brief announcements. It’s probably not unlike scenes played out in preschools around the world. It’s what happened next that moved me deeply and I think differs. After the song, the kids joyfully ran in opposite directions. About one-third of them ran to get their lunch, the other two-thirds ran to the playground. That’s right only about a third of the children had something to eat. This scene repeated every day and was increasingly difficult to watch.
It was hard to watch because some of the children never had a lunch. I asked the teacher and she explained that some of these children only eat one meal a week. I have three nephews, who at the time I was in Kenya, were about the same ages as the kids in preschool, 3,4, and 5. I cannot even fathom us letting them walk by themselves to 2-3 miles to school on on unmarked roads (and I use the term roads very loosely here), or them going days without so much as a piece of bread. But that is the reality for these beautiful Kenyan children. I spoke to my entire team about what was happening and how these children, so many of them were not eating. So we approached our leaders on the ground and with their guidance about what to buy and we provided lunch for children on our last day.
On the last day, the teacher started the line up, they sang, and right before dismissing the children to play and eat, the teacher announced: “Today, every one will eat!” The kids were so excited it was a great moment, many of them only ate half of their small lunch, as they wanted to take the other half home to share with their family. Our team was excited to be able to feed the children on this day. But that is all it was sadly…one day, one meal. Where and when will these children eat again? I worried about that as the days and weeks passed and candidly I still do.
Fast forward, recently, I was eating out with some friends and I hear a mother talking to her 4 year old son say:
“You will eat your dinner, there are children in Africa who are starving!”
And for a moment, her comments set me back, because I immediately replayed the scene of Ruth, David, John, Faith, Hannah and the rest of the children in Kenya who did not have food. You see for me starvation has a name, and it’s real. I have held a child who is starving to death in my very own arms and rocked him to sleep. That’s not something you easily forget, not do I want to forget.
One of the reasons, I am so excited about the work we will be doing in Marsabit is, yes we will be taking food to feed the people. More importantly, we are also working on projects to help them grow their own food, so that eventually they do not need us to feed them, they can feed themselves. Sustainable projects are critical and the ones we will choose to get involved in going forward. We bought land last week in Marsabit and the process of determining what and how to make this land a resource has already begun. I was excited when the opportunity to purchase the land presented itself, because I remembered the story of how a $2.00 micro-loan changed an entire village in Ethiopia. Today, that village is helping the surrounding villages become sustainable.
Next time you hear someone say “there are children starving in Africa” remember the faces here. Remember that poverty and starvation have a name. And remember, it’s possible to end starvation, we don’t need any fancy technology, just a few seeds.
What if we joined together to create a sustainable food source for one tiny village in Kenya? Can you partner with us so we can begin the process of ending starvation in Marsabit?