Christmas Message from Africa

Merry Christmas from Lewa Children's Home

Christmas is a joyful time for the children at our Lewa Children’s Home in Kenya – the children look forward to a celebration of treats and singing and dancing.

As the mother to over 100 orphans, it is my job to make sure that they have a gift and take part in our Christmas Services so they don’t feel alone and unwanted.

Thanks to you and other good people who support our school and orphanage, these 100 children have something to be thankful for during the Christmas Holiday.

But for many of their brothers and sisters across the African continent, there are no Christmas meals and treats.

Millions of children instead spend Christmas with very little to eat and no clean water to drink.  The sad truth is that children are always the first victims claimed by the consequences of droughts, floods, and man-made disasters such as war.

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If a child lacks proper nutrition in their early childhood, it is impossible to compensate for the losses in their growth and health in later years.

Malnutrition not only means an increased vulnerability to diseases, stunted growth and poor learning ability, but it also leads to long-term complications for both the child’s individual well-being and the stability of their community, and even their country.

Many people are aware of the droughts that regularly plague East Africa, especially Ethiopia. Indeed, droughts and floods weaken the fragile livelihood of these already vulnerable communities. However, malnutrition is another tragedy occurring silently in Ethiopia, in Sierra Leone, in Zambia, in Zimbabwe and Kenya. It doesn’t kill as abruptly as natural disaster or receive as much attention in the news, but it is deadly just the same.

Half of the children in Ethiopia are malnourished.

Deprived of vital nutrients, they grow stunted, sickly and weak for the rest of their lives. This fate is especially cruel in a country that is still dependent on manual labor – where the agricultural sector still comprises the bulk of Ethiopia’s production and income – and where the only jobs are.

A deficient nutritional intake at this crucial stage means children are afflicted with an irreversible handicap they will have to bear for the rest of their lives.

The interaction between malnutrition and poverty is apparent throughout one’s life. Maternal malnutrition – as reflected in low weight gains during pregnancy and poor health – are related to low birth weights.

Subsequently, a baby’s development may be harmed if his or her mother’s breast milk is insufficient due to her own malnourishment.

Improving the mother’s health brings double benefits: not only does it contribute to the increased well-being and productivity of the mother, but it also contributes to providing the baby with a better chance of being healthy and making a positive contribution to Africa’s future.

This is why Bread and Water for Africa® is involved in several nutrition and food-related projects across the continent. For instance:

  • In Rokel, Sierra Leone, our local partner clinic provides mothers with nourishing food after they have given birth so that they can nurse their babies longer, thereby giving them a better chance at life. In the Afar region of Ethiopia we work with our local partner, YETEEM Children and Destitute Mothers Fund, on agro-pastoral projects to improve the nutrition and health of vulnerable communities through sustainable food.
  • In Eldoret, Kenya, I am especially proud of the work accomplished at the Baraka Farm to supply the Lewa Children’s Home with fresh milk and healthy food for the orphans. With a healthy start they will have the chance of a better life that we all work so hard to provide them with.
  • In Lusaka, Zambia, we work with the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre to provide shelter, nourishment, and care for over 74 children. Bread and Water for Africa also recently provided funding to develop a vegetable garden to grow and provide vegetables directly for the orphanage.

This sustainable food source is a huge help in providing accessible, nutritious food for these young and growing children.

Merry Christmas from the Lewa Children's HomeThanks to your generous support in the past, we have accomplished so much for the children of Africa, but the need for our continued efforts this Christmas are great.

Please help me save lives with a special Christmas gift. We can make a difference if we do something right now – whatever you feel you can afford! A little bit can provide small miracles this holiday season in communities where the needs are so great, but so very basic.

I hope that you and yours will have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thank you always,

Phyllis Keino
Phyllis Keino, R.N.
Volunteer Spokesperson
Eldoret, Kenya