A few positive takeaways from our progress in the field in the first Quarter of 2020

Mother Esther – Agricultural Farm Expansion

Girls at Mother Esther Girls Rescue Center, picking onions from the 3 acres of open air farming.

In Q-1 of 2020, we installed an additional Green-house and an additional 2 acres of drip irrigation systems that included drip lines and two 5,000 liter water tanks to increase the capacity of the project. The farm not only produced enough vegetables to help feed 120 girls and staff in the first quarter, but the farm also produced enough produce to sell to other families in the Masai community.

The income generated from the farm was small, around $1,313 USD, but it was used to pay the farm hand, to purchase other food items for children, like milk and cereals and some firewood for cooking.

Plotting the expansion of the agricultural project and the Masai womens community learning program in Fall of 2019.

The farm expansion garnered the attention of the regional department of agriculture officers, who visited the farm to learn how we were able to convert otherwise arid land into viable agricultural land. The takeaway here is that the project is scaling and creating food security in a region that has historically had a huge issue with lack of food. (The official community pilot training program that was scheduled to begin in Q2 of 2020, has been postponed due to COVID-19.)

Tumaini Children Center- Renewable Energy & Renewable Source of Protein

Sometimes its the little thing that count, can you imagine quarantine without electricity?

We installed a small solar panel and converter system at our partner Tumaini Children’s Center. The children and staff now have a source of power to light up their nights. The kids can now do their chores and homework. The panel is small, but it also powers the incubator and lights that will allow us to scale the poultry project to producing more eggs.

Yes! the chickens from the Poultry Project we invested in Q-4 of 2019 started to produce eggs! The farm is producing roughly 300 eggs per week. The children now have a healthy reliable source of protein and they are able to sell around 250 eggs every week to generate some income. This next quarter we plan to carefully scale this project to be able to produce twice the amount of eggs.

Got Milk? We do!

Our Cow projects combined produced over 4,171 liters of Milk! In addition to adding protein to the children’s and staff’s diets, the excess was sold to over 750 needy families at a under half the price of store bought milk. We were also able to purchase 2 milk producing cows for our partner Amazing Grace, to help scale up their current milk farm!

Practice Makes Perfect- Amiran Kenya Training

We were able to host all of our farm hands for another training session hosted by Amiran Kenya on their campus. During these training sessions, our farm hands are able to learn new techniques on how to maximize the yield of their farm, and bring up any issues they are having with growing their crops. We find that doing this on a quarterly or bi-annual basis is invaluable and keeps our farm-hand’s feeling supported and competitive.

Welcome to The Family Boys Rescue Center- Slowly moving loser towards financial independence.

We started off moving into 2020 with the goal of helping our partners achieve financial independence. Although we have yet much room to go, inorder to achieve these goals, we were pleased that this past quarter the reverse osmosis plant that we built in 2016 sold $11,332 USD worth of water. Four years later, the water plant is fully funding the salaries of the staff for Welcome to The Family Boys Rescue Center in Nakuru.

This project has created an impact beyond generating income for our partner, it provides employment to the 3 community members who help run it, and a affordable, clean, fluoride free water security to the surrounding community.

Drought Scare in Kenya – THE IMPACT ON OUR PROJECTS

The majority of Kitechild’s projects in Kenya are agricultural by nature, from crop and livestock rearing, borehole water purification, harvesting of rainwater, and numerous other projects they are all directly or indirectly impacted by the abundance of rain. Earlier this year the Kenyan long rains- which typically run from March to May, were significantly delayed, prompting the Kenyan Government to declare a national drought emergency. With 23 out of 47 counties affected, 2.6 million people reached critical levels of food & water insecurity as prices for both of the most essential commodities skyrocketed.

This left many of our existing projects vulnerable,  and especially set us back in the implementation of three new projects we had scheduled to break ground in the 1st quarter 2019.  With no rain in sight the viability of installing 4 additional greenhouses & 7 acres of driplines for open land for cultivation,  as well as the purchase of a 20,000 liter Rain Water harvest tank, seemed low.

Thankfully,  the last week of April reported rain in most parts of the country.  With faith the rains would return, we and kept all three projects on track as scheduled.  But although the drought scare is over for now, having been left so exposed and vulnerable raised some important questions for us and our partners on how we can continue to dig deeper and explore preventative measures that will enable our projects to survive threats like this in the future. 

THE SILVER LINING: Ironically, the lack of rain had a positive effect on our Reverse Osmosis water purifying project at the Welcome to the Family Children’s Center in Nakuru. Due to a shortage of water the region, sales of bottled clean drinking water were higher than usual. The project continues to thrive providing more affordable water to the extended community while generating income for the center to cover the cost of skilled social workers and staff who rehabilitate at-risk youth. Cheers to that!

 

 

 

Let’s Keep Families Together

Julio is 10 years old. He has a million dollar smile and a puff of brown curls on his head. I’m taken to him particularly because he instantly attached to me when I arrive, holding my hand and showing me around. He clearly yearns for a connection, but unfortunately, his mother lives in extreme poverty and cannot provide for him- she wants to, but needs help.

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Paul is still at the Good Samaritan Home, 4 years later. I held him in my arms the first time I went to Kenya – he was oly months old.  He was abandoned in the slums of Soweto, with no record of his family. 4 years have gone by and no one knows who left him on the side of the road, and he has not been able to be adopted.

 

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Kevin is 13 years old. He ran away from home where there was no food and rife with instability, and ended up at the WTF center. But he has a family that he misses. And that he wants to go back to.

These are just a handful of children that I have met over the years – children with real stories of need, of hope, of trying to find a place they belong in the world.

And that place, truthfully, is not in an orphanage, no matter how well intentioned the directors who run it are, no matter how much the care givers who work there care, no matter how “inspiring” the naive foreign volunteers who come bearing gifts find them.

The place where children belong is with their own family, immediate family if possible, extended family when not, and at least within their own community.

Kitechild has evolved significantly in our past 7 years of operation. We started off with a goal to empower children living in orphanages, so that they could break the cycles of poverty that often led them there. We didn’t know how to do this, and we didn’t know much abut orphanages in general. We just thought what most westerners did: that orphanages were necessary because the parents of these children had neglectfully abandoned them, or they all had died of AIDS or other diseases.

But as we started to visit these homes, in places all over the world including India, Kenya, Mexico, and Central America, we realized that 90% of the children living there had families, families which they missed and who missed them. The main underlying factor that led these children to living in an orphanage, away from their families, was extreme poverty. When a mother faces the cruel reality that she has no food for her child, or no money to send him to school, leaving him vulnerable to recruitment into a hard life on the streets, an orphanage providing food, shelter and education is seen akin as a boarding school, albeit one that will separate her and her child.

As a mother myself, this is not a choice that any mother should have to make. It pains me to think of mothers, and fathers, who reach a desperate point in their lives where they feel like they can’t provide for their own child, and essentially send them away in hopes of a better life. Because truthfully, this is not about lazy parenting, or neglectful parenting, this is about families who live in countries with high poverty rates, countries where little to no social services exist (nothing such as food stamps in the US), or countries where the chances of a woman finding a stable, safe job are slim to none.

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Of course, not every child’s case is due to poverty. There are children who have experienced significant abuse, unimaginable torture, sex trafficking, willful and cruel neglect, stigmatization from their community due to AIDS or because of their caste, female genital mutilation, tribal warfare, etc. etc. Those are all very real cases that still happen today. And for those children, there is no “Child Protective Services” such as we have in the U.S. There is only the open door of the nearest orphanage, where they can only hope the staff will be kind, there will be social counseling available, and ways for them to find a new family or reunite with the old one day.

All this we have learned in our 7 years of research and traveling in the field, and this has greatly changed our perspective on how we feel we can best empower these children to thrive. We acknowledge the need of an orphanage in places where no other safety net exists, but we are also supporting community outreach programs that help families stay together and not be separated due to lack of food or access to education.

But it does not stop there. We have the ability to push for stronger policy in terms of child protection. That is why our latest project deviates from our traditional sustainable, income generating projects. This project is being done in conjunction with the Kenyan government, who have a very limited budget when it comes to their Children and Family services. (Why they have this small budget is another story (read: mismanagement) but we will not go there). Thus, Kitechild is sponsoring a 2 day training program for 27 orphanages in Nakuru county. This conference will focus on guiding each home to create an exit strategy for their children: meaning, a strategy to successfully re-integrate eligible children back with their families or with extended family in their own communities. The importance of social workers and commitment will be stressed. The timelines and budgets will be outlined, and we will have a follow up training in the first quarter of 2018 to follow up on progress and record how many successful integrations have occurred, what the challenges are, and best ways moving forward.

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The goal of this training is to further educate and spread awareness to these orphanage directors and caregivers of the importance of making every effort to keep children with their families, whenever it is safe and healthy for the child to do so. Many of the directors I have met are no doubt selfless, kind, and good hearted people who see it as their ‘calling’ to help at risk children, but they do not realize that rather than taking in as many children as possible, what would be better for the child is to support the child while living at home. Plus, these type of outreach programs are more cost effective than housing a child in an orphanage.

The funding needed for this campaign is not very much – around $1900.00. I strongly believe in the way in which Kitechild is moving forward, and I hope that you can join me as we continue to create real, measurable, and long term change in the way that at risk children are empowered to thrive.

With gratitude,

Jacqueline Herrera
Co-Founder and Director

Join our Village – One The Helps At Risk Children to Thrive

Just like the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child”, we firmly believe that the entire community should step up and support at-risk children, and their families, in times of need. On December 3rd, we held our first ever photo exhibit depicting our work in the field. The theme of the night was “It Takes a Village”, with an emphasis on all the different community members involved in our efforts to empower at risk children to break the cycles of poverty and thrive. This village we speak of is global – it goes beyond the immediate geographic surroundings of the child, and extends all across the world, to supporters and donors like you that join our Kitechild village to support these children.

A few of the favorite photos from evening include:

Jeweled Feet


Title: Jeweled Feet
Photographer: Benjamin James
Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. 2015
Description: Anklets, commonly known as Payal, are worn for many reasons in the Hindu culture, including channeling positive energy into the body, and as a signifier of availability for marriage. However, most of the young girls in our partner centers wear them for another reason, because they like the way they look and the sound they make when they walk.

 

 Title: Commute to Work Photographer: Christoph Siegert Location: Fiwagoh Mission. Gilgil, Nakuru, Kenya. 2016 Description: A laborer is about to go home after working in our Kitechild funded greenhouses at the Fiwagoh MIssion. This project has provided steady employment to members of the surrounding community as they work on the farm, and learn to cultivate their own smaller farms at home.


Title: Commute to Work
Photographer: Christoph Siegert
Location: Fiwagoh Mission. Gilgil, Nakuru, Kenya. 2016
Description: A laborer is about to go home after working in our Kitechild funded greenhouses at the Fiwagoh MIssion. This project has provided steady employment to members of the surrounding community as they work on the farm, and learn to cultivate their own smaller farms at home.

 

 

Title: Room for One More Photographer: Benjamin James Location: LAMP Mission, Nakkapali, Andra Pradesh, India. 2015 Description: A girl stands under an umbrella – twice her size – at the LAMP Mission Home. Through Kitechild, the home was able to reconstruct their roof to protect the sleeping area for the children from the common rains.

Title: Room for One More
Photographer: Benjamin James
Location: LAMP Mission, Nakkapali, Andra Pradesh, India. 2015
Description: A girl stands under an umbrella – twice her size – at the LAMP Mission Home. Through Kitechild, the home was able to reconstruct their roof to protect the sleeping area for the children from the common rains.

 

We’d like to thank some very important members of our village, those people that support Kitechild and keep our wheels running. From our two talented photographers, Christoph Siegert of InDigital Media and Benjamin James of Empty Space Studio, our talented entertainment for the night, Josh Arias and Jeremie Levi Samson, to our support from our Board members from Xomad and Boxador Labs, our main sponsor BDirect,  and of course our staff for the evening and everyone that attended to show their support.

 

We are inviting you to be a part of this village – by donating to Kitechild’s efforts in funding sustainable projects that empower at risk children to receive the education, quality nutrition, and emotional support they need to break the bonds of poverty and thrive. Will you join us? Donate today.

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