When was the last time you were so hungry you couldn’t think straight? For the average child in the southern Rift Valley of Kenya, it’s a daily experience. The limited resources of these arid areas mean food and water are already scarce. And, the pastoralist lifestyle of the Maasai communities that live here means that other resources like school and health care are sometimes miles away. Children burn what calories they consume walking to school, then struggle to make it through the day, leading to poor attendance, poor health and ultimately, missed opportunities.
MANDO (Matonyok Nomads Development Organization) is a not-for-profit organization founded in Kenya in 2007 to improve the lives of the marginalized residents of the region through economic empowerment education, water and sanitation, advocacy, and the training of a new generation of entrepreneurial, ethical leaders. The organization is committed to ensuring the pastoralist Maasai communities have access to high quality education, clean water and primary health care to successfully achieve their goals and potential.
Dream for the Future provides educational opportunities to underprivileged children and youth in developing countries. Partnering with local communities to enhance the learning experience for children in rural Africa, Dream for the Future’s goals and mission align perfectly with MANDO’s. DFTF is therefore proud to partner with MANDO on current projects to expand the opportunities available to the children of the Maasai and the communities as a whole.
Let's do lunch
Dream for the Future has partnered with MANDO on one of its most successful projects, providing basic, nutritious meals to children during the school day. MANDO had already successfully implemented a school lunch program at a neighboring school, with immediate impacts on increased school attendance and enrollment, improvement in the children’s energy levels and focus, and better overall health. Seeking to expand to other schools, the search began for a partner.
In September 2021, MANDO Director Michael Sayo invited Dream for the Future Executive Director Jenny Kim to support education through sponsorship and support for school lunches at the Nkuyan School.
It was drought season and food was scarce. School children would miss afternoon classes due to lack of a midday meal and the distance to walk home during lunchtime. Children who commonly walked six to ten miles to school often would have to drop out without something to get them through the day. Most would miss classes and migrate with the livestock in search of water and green grass, as this would at least mean they would get a cup or two of milk by the end of the day.
Recognizing the immediate need and the alignment with DFTF’s mission, Jenny agreed and fundraising for the upcoming term began immediately. Once the funds were received, logistics planning went into high gear.
Supplies for the lunches are purchased in bulk to prepare traditional, nutritious meals familiar to the children. An average meal in Kenya consists mainly of githeri (a mixture of maize, maize flour and beans) which goes into a mealy porridge called uji. Family gardens may produce collard greens, cabbage and tomatoes, while the livestock provides meat from cows, goats and sheep.
Meals are prepared over fires in a small kitchen at the school. Volunteers cook the meals and parents helped provide plates, cups and utensils.
Room (and Water) to Grow
While vitamins are currently added to the food, the hope is to add a small kitchen garden, which would contribute to the nutrition of the meals and serve as an educational tool for the children, perhaps even producing a surplus which could be sold.
Because of the arid conditions, irrigation has posed a problem. Therefore, Dream for the Future and MANDO are working on funding to drill a bore well, which would provide irrigation for the kitchen garden and perhaps support a small dairy herd to provide milk for the children.
The bore well would also support the surrounding community with drinking water and irrigation.
While DFTF works with MANDO to enhance and expand the project, the lunch program has already boosted school attendance and improved the prospects for these children completing their education and breaking the cycle of poverty.
How you can help
Dream for the Future and MANDO continue to raise funds to provide breakfast and lunch to the children at Nkuyan School through the end of the 2022 school year and expand the resources available to the children of this region. This is how you can help.
Written by: Karen Tatum
Karen Tatum is a communications strategist and self-proclaimed word nerd. Originally from Trinidad, she is passionate about her family, travel, books, American football, and of course, worthy causes.