Ugh… So I need to apologize for the delay in posting. We wrapped up testing at the school, hosted two of our founding members Stan and Nathan, my girl Catherine got sick with malaria, we have had a steady stream of guests, we started a couple new meal plans and on top of it all I’m not the best communicator anyways! But here goes my post about food. On this Thanksgiving I found myself thankful for so many things, most of all food. First off I am thankful for all the donors that have helped me get here to help with the food in Mailisita. Every donor has made it possible for me to be here and then plan for and put into action what we all know is necessary to help our children. In some cases it is as basic as food.
Thanks to Ed and Barb Walters, one of our continued dreams of improving the food at our school has come true. The daily meals at Stella Maris have improved dramatically thanks to their generous donation to provide for more beans and twice a week Ugali (stiff porridge) and vegetables! Though it took a while to get started, we finally saw it come to fruition the last 3 weeks. One of our biggest concerns remains with the nutrition of our children and especially those entering puberty. They all require more protein, and our adolescent children require more iron and nutrients than ever before. After years of malnutrition at home, many are still under 60 lbs despite being 10 or 11 years old. Many children will come to school after taking just a cup of tea and a heavy meal the night before. Since their diet is almost exclusively carbohydrates they are not overly “hungry” but their bodies are lacking in nearly everything.
I spent the first month of my trip trying to figure out the best way to economically and systematically provide better nutrition. I came up with a nice plan of how to implement more protein and vitamins and also how much it will cost/fundraise for it. Then our group from St. Joseph came and I explained my plan to Stan Taylor and the Walters family. Within moments they said “How much will it take to help the children eat better… O ok… well why don’t we just take care of the whole school for a year?” Now starting this past week our children are eating more beans and vegetables every day and will continue to all of next year! Not enough can be said about the generosity of Ed and Barb Walters and how much the children are enjoying the new food. Most of all, I look forward to seeing them grow taller and stronger in the coming year.
Adam and I also began a new tradition this year of properly celebrating Thanksgiving with the children in Africa! I am now excited to continue that tradition for the coming years of my work here. This Thanksgiving I didn’t eat any turkey, but I was able to spend the holiday with my African family feasting on Pilau courtesy of the St. Joseph’s Youth Group Souled Out! Souled Out raised money to sponsor a pilau day, and what better way to connect our communities than through a Thanksgiving feast.
In a matter of two days we put together all the food needed and bought all the things necessary to cook the pilau for the children. I explained the whole idea of Thanksgiving and giving thanks, but I think they were all most thankful for the extra food they enjoyed!
The final recent change happened for children from the whole community. I am always worried about trying to help more children as well as trying not to alienate ourselves in the community by not helping more families. Some families simply feel that we don’t help their children which is a fair feeling. So in the first step of trying to remedy this I started a weekend meal offered at the local church. With a lot of help from a new young priest Fr. Lucas Riziki and our manager Teddy I was able to buy all the pots needed to cook, cups needed to drink from and ingredients to cook porridge on the weekend. With a couple of very nice women volunteers we have been able to start a new way for our neediest children to find an extra meal on the weekends. It is a simple meal, just porridge, but in the past few weeks Fr. Lucas has said the number of children attending classes at the church has climbed from 80-90 to nearly 150! The children are all ages from 5 to 12 and many from Stella Maris as well as the other schools.
It has been an incredible joy to take guests of the hotel on the weekends to see our children enjoying a meal that we have provided for them. With each week and whole lot of persistence we are slowly helping feed these children better. We have new meal plans at the school, more pilau then ever before and are now reaching the children around the community on the weekends. There is nothing better than meeting new children and getting the opportunity to share a meal and a smile. To let them know that even though they might not come to our school, we love them and care for them too.