Our very first project was assisting the local leaders to feed hungry orphans, widowers, and widows. One of our feeding centers is at Kinwe, just outside Mikinduri, where we have been given fives acres of good arable land by the government, and where we have constructed a very nice building which serves not only as our feeding location for about 75 to 100 people each day, but also serves as a community center for many other activities. For example on Saturdays, we have teachers who work with the children, teaching them life skills, as well as playing organized sports like soccer. We have been very aggressive in our efforts to try to make these centers self-sustaining, by growing our own crops, raising our own animals, and by utilizing the local parents as volunteers, to collect wood, draw water and tend to the various gardens and animals. In return, the volunteers are taught more advanced farming techniques and are given better quality seeds, and fruit tree saplings, etc, to plant on their own farms. We have experienced great success at this center, and have leveraged the experience gained to establish two more feeding centers in the more remote areas of Kagwuru and Thuuri.
Our second feeding center has been operating since 2009. It is located in Kagwuru, where the poorest people live. The badly dilapidated school serves as our feeding center. Once again, the government has given us the use of 9 acres of land close to the school, to be used not only for growing the food for the 200 kids that we feed twice a day, but also as an agricultural training center.
The school is supposed to have approximately 230 students, but because of malnutrition the numbers had dwindled to about 150. That number is now dramatically increasing. Once again we are very encouraged by the fact that this center is quickly becoming self-reliant, so much so that we are hoping that by the end of 2011, we will no longer have to subsidize it.
After the first few months of the Kagwuru the results of the feeding program were evident by not only having students returning to school, but as the school headmaster stated “You would never know these are the same kids as they are so energetic”. We are very encouraged that the government has since built a new school with 6 classrooms at Kagwuru, an area that had been abandoned by government for years.
A third feeding program was initiated in a mountain village called Thuuri. These people are desperately poor and are even more remote than Kagwuru. We have hired an early childhood educator with better training, and the nursery school has been reopened, with the addition of a feeding program for the 33 kids. The next steps for Thuuri will include enlarging the gardens, as well as an improved latrine, and a new kitchen.
The goal of the feeding program is to eventually allow these communities to be self-sustaining, and they are well on their way to achieving that goal.