In the Clear: The Value of Clean Water

Did you know that 783 million people do not have access to clean water? That figure, given from the UN, is a sad reality for many on our planet, but a problem that Kitechild is addressing and has already helped hundreds of children have access to life-sustaining water.

life straw

Our clean water project in Kenya has provided clean water to over 200 children and the staff of the Fiwagoh Mission Home, located on the outskirts of Lake Naivasha. We installed 5 Lifestraw Community Filters at the home, which allowed them access to their own water. Since these children have had access to clean water, the number of waterborne illness has decreased and as a result, they have missed fewer days from school. Being able to succeed in the classroom is important for all children, but especially those in impoverished circumstances. Education is the key to more opportunities, to brighter futures and to empowerment.

fiwgoh clean water

The home can now save $2,400 USD per year, since they are no longer purchasing their own water supply. As a result, they have re-allocated these funds towards the salary of an additional caregiver. Our field liaison has kept us informed on the new caregiver, saying: “The savings from the process of purifying water through boiling or buying have been used to hire an extra caretaker called Beatrice Wanjiku. She previously worked on casual basis but now has been hired on permanent basis.” This is especially important for the home, as it is understaffed, and children thrive when given more adults, who can care and supervise them.

water fiwgoh

Like all projects, there are challenges that come up that need to be addressed. In this case, the well at the home was contaminated, which the home was able to fix through the use of the water filters. We’ve known the struggles, and also success, of partnering with this home, as we also have a greenhouse project, which provides the children with fresh produce and helps funds their education. Water, food and schooling are important human rights every child should have access to, and thanks to Kitechild supporters, there are now hundreds who do!

wendesday-fiwagoh

Checking In With The Chickens of Change

chickens

Chickens at the farm at the Ashirvad Home.

Chickens bringing change to the lives of children? That’s exactly what’s happening in India. There have been exciting new developments at our chicken farm at the Ashirvad Home in Tuni, India. There are now over 100 full-grown chickens and 62 new baby chicks.
The farm has 60 chickens known as “country chickens,” and they are the ones that gave birth to the new baby chicks in the last 12 weeks. The other half of the adult chickens are known as Vanajara chickens. While the home lost some of them to a heatwave and nearby dogs, the remaining 51 Vanajara chickens will be laying eggs within the next month. Losing some chickens will probably always be an inevitable part of the chicken farm, but with enough to keep breeding, the project will remain sustainable and productive.

Kitechild funded the purchase of the chickens, the construction of the coop, labor for the farm and the cost of caring for the chickens, such as vaccinations.

Kitechild funded the purchase of the chickens, the construction of the coop, labor for the farm and the cost of caring for the chickens, such as vaccinations.

The home is now preparing to sell the country chickens in the marketplace, while keeping a portion of the birds to keep the breeding and the project going. They are expecting 250 rupees, or around $4, for each country hen and 500 rupees, or about $8, for each country rooster. The money generated in the marketplace will be used to get the children fresh fruits every other day starting in June.

shed

Chicken shed at the farm.

Last year, the farm constructed a shed that used palm leaves to keep the chickens cool in the summer heat. However, they found the leaves wore out quickly and will need to replace their roof. Instead of utilizing leaves, this time they are looking for a longer-term solution with a tarpaulin sheet, which is a heavy-duty waterproof cloth. This way they won’t have to keep changing out the leaves and they can better protect their shed and chickens.

Some of the children living at the Ashirvad Home.

Some of the children living at the Ashirvad Home.

This chicken farm takes place for the benefit of the 79 children living at the home. The income generated by selling the chickens is used to supplement their diets with fresh produce, which is an added nutritional benefit along with the fresh eggs now available to the children, as well. As we watch this project grow, the home will eventually be able to afford to purchase computers and hire a teacher for the children. It is really valuable for the children to learn computing skills for the Indian job market and will help secure their futures and break the cycle of poverty. To learn more about this project and the chickens of change please click here!

The children of the Ashirvad Home, whose education and nutrition is benefitted from the chicken farm.

l The children of the Ashirvad Home, whose education and nutrition is being improved from the chicken farm.

Motivational Monday with Maya Angelou

people quote maya angelou

 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” A little ‪#MondayMotivation‬ from the late, great Maya Angelou‬. This quote is inspiring because it reminds us that our actions majorly impact others. Let’s make sure to make this week one centered around kindness, compassion and generosity. 

Solar Powered Solutions

Some of the 36 children benefitting from the solar project.

Some of the 36 children benefitting from the solar project.

The first thing most of us do in the mornings and the last thing we do at night is flip a switch. Yet, we very rarely put much thought into how much this modern convenience improves our lives. With the flip of a switch we can eat, read, walk to the bathroom at night and put to rest our fears if we hear a strange noise.  For 36 children in Rajamundry, India, this is something they’ll be able to have for the very first time. And some added bonuses? It will be through the sustainable energy of solar power, so it won’t negatively impact the environment. Additionally, since the home doesn’t have electricity, they can save the money they would be spending on having traditional electricity installed and on those monthly electrical bills. And those savings can get passed onto providing the children with the best care, access to nutrition and educational needs.

lamp home

The exterior of the children’s home.

This year, we were fortunate enough to visit India and the LAMP home for the second time, where these kids live. One thing we realized is that the home was in need of some repairs, which they could not afford. One of the things they needed was to have their roof reinforced. The good news is that the roof construction is now complete, thanks to a private donor working with Kitechild. The roof is now strong enough to support the solar lighting installation, which means that the children will now have a better roof to live under, as well as electricity.

Construction is underway at the LAMP home.

Construction is underway at the LAMP home.

The lighting installation consists of a total of six lights- three indoor and three outdoor lights. The indoor lights ensure that the kids will be able to do schoolwork during the evenings, which will improve their learning and potential performance in school. We all know how important education is to future opportunities, and the indoor lights can be a stepping stone to helping these children break the cycle of poverty. The outdoor lights are also really important, as they will keep the home safe and secure after the sun sets. The home is located in the northeast jungle of Andra Pradesh, near Rajahmundry. The area around the home has snakes and other potential hazards, so the safety of the children will improve with the outdoor lights and will help to eliminate injuries by improving visibility.

One of the children living at the LAMP home.

One of the children living at the home.

Here’s a little background on this home, as there are often misconceptions and misinformation about children’s homes. 36 children reside at the home, 20 of whom are true orphans, in the sense that they have no parents to care for them. The other sixteen are children whose families are living with extreme poverty, which makes it difficult for them to provide for their children. Through the home, the children have three meals everyday, are able to attend school and are under the care of long-term caretakers, who live with them at the LAMP home. The families of these children visit them whenever they are able. We’re hoping through this solar light project that these children will be one step closer to rising above poverty and will one do be able to provide for themselves and their families.

Some of the 36 children living at the LAMP home in India.

Some of the children living at the LAMP home in India.

Changing Lives One LED Lightbulb at a Time

By: Jacqueline Herrera, Co-founder and Director

 

A while back, I wrote about how excited we were about our partnership with Engineers without Borders, an organization comprised of professional engineers who provide low cost or pro bono services to organizations doing development in the field.
Since we take on some really diverse, and often fascinating projects (aquaponics farms, greenhouses, water purification, etc.), I knew that we would immensely benefit from having an expert weigh in and give us feedback.

Photo: EWB Australia

Photo: EWB Australia

When you are dealing with different vendors across the world, jumping through language barriers, time zones, foreign currencies, and cultural practices, developing a project can get super complicated, super fast. One day we have to know everything about the life cycle of Tilapia, and the next day calculate how fast we can get six greenhouses to provide a daily serving of fruits and vegetables to over 200 children at a partner home. And let’s not even get started on calculating the energy use of a partner home in watts, and dividing that by the hours per day and multiplying it by the cost of kw/h…I lost myself there too!
This is where EWB comes in – we have a dedicated engineer who is able to provide us feedback and guidance on everything from the most trusted vendors in the field, to making sure we are considering all aspects of a project before we sign any contracts, to even helping us decide whether the project should exist at all.

Soweto Slums

Soweto Slums

Our latest foray in development was a solar panel installation at the Good Samaritan Children’s Home, located in the Soweto slums of Nairobi.  The home provides refuge to over 70 children, most whom are babies that were abandoned in the slums. With nowhere else to go, and not enough support from the government’s social services department, the home is crucial to these infants’ survival. Babies are expensive – as I learned recently when I became a mother to my 11-month old daughter – so we brainstormed a way to eliminate some costs for the home so that they would not be under financial strain and could divert what funding they have to hire a social worker, who could facilitate the adoption of some of the infants. Energy was a big cost in the home, so we immediately thought a solar panel installation would work. The home had a large open roof and we began the process of researching solar panel vendors and partners in Nairobi. The cost was upwards of $8,000, which seemed about the right price range. We then asked our engineer to look over the proposal and give us the OK or make suggestions. Instead, he told us something very different, and very exciting.

Our energy use calculations

Our energy use calculations

After looking at the energy use of the home, (which was done by compiling a table of all light bulbs, all appliances, their wattage, hours used per day, etc.), he realized that we could actually almost eliminate the energy cost of the home by simply switching to LED light bulbs – something that would cost about $500 USD. Replacing the bulbs will reduce an estimated 90% of the current energy bills, and save us over $7500 for a project that simply was not necessary.
Solar energy is important and it has its time and place, but the systems are also expensive, complex, and can be high maintenance, which is why we have moved ahead with replacing over 40 bulbs at the home, rewiring the electrical system to support this change, and providing backup bulbs for replacement. Now comes the monitoring part, which we’ll do for one year – monitoring the cost saved and how the home is able to use the funding saved to fund more important aspects of their mission – such as providing love, care, nutrition, and even reunification with families to their children.

With one of the infants at the Good Samaritan Home

With one of the infants at the Good Samaritan Home

We remain grateful and fascinated by all that we learn through our projects, and all the time and guidance that our pro-bono volunteers and partners are willing to give, to make the world a better place for all. Whether you are giving your time, your money, or your knowledge, there is so much you can do to be a part of our mission. Learn more here. And I highly recommend you replace your lightbulbs to LED!

Empower and Support Vulnerable Children

#NewYearsResolutionIn5Words: Empower and support vulnerable children. 2016 is off to a bright start for the kids at the Watoto Wema Home in Kenya. Our greenhouse project has produced tomatoes and other vegetables, which are sold in the market for profits that pay for school fees. Let’s keep making positive changes this year: goo.gl/B6UOlz