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!




A Toast on World Water Day: Raise Your Clean Glass of Water

Arguably, one of the greatest feelings can be the one you get when you take a sip of clean, crisp water after a particularly scorching day…


Water is life. Affordable clean water is a human right, but one that many people across the globe lack. Whether here in our own backyard of Flint, Michigan, or across the world in central Kenya, clean water is a challenge for many.

Which is why today, on World Water Day, we are excited to announce that our Water Purification Project in Nakuru Kenya is up and running. We are open to the community, and so far, the response has been incredible.


The water project consisted of the purchase of a Reverse Osmosis Treatment water plant that would be house in our partner center, The Welcome to the Family Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. WTF already had their own borehole, and it was their idea to install a purification plant. This came about as they were already selling their borehole water to the local community, however this water is not clean, so it is mostly intended for household use such as washing clothes and dishes, gardening, and general hygenic upkeep. However, during hardship, many community members resorted to dirnking the water, because they could either not afford clean water from retailers, or could not afford firewood for boiling the borehole water in order to purify it. As such, many of the local community members suffered from Flouridiosis, a condition that mottles teeth and can also calcify ligaments. This means weak bones in the especially vulnerable, babies, and children.

As the community already visited WTF for water, together we developed the project to purify the water they already had and sell it at an extremely competitive, affordable price. When I visited Kenya in 2016, the price of a liter of water was more expensive than the price of a liter of milk! Clean water was far too expensive for many families to afford, so many had to resort to taking the risk of drinking un-purified borehole water.

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With consulting guidance from our friends at Engineers Without Borders, and the support of generous donors, we kicked off the project in December of 2017 by ordering the custom made purification plant from water treatment experts Davis and Shirtliff. After waiting approximately 2 months for the water selling permits from Nairobi, which involved vigours testing of our system, the doors opened for business in February of 2018.

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Transofrming Lives

It is not just the community that is benefitting from the project, the children at the WTF center are the primary beneficiaries through the income that is generated by the water sales. WTF Center houses street boys and sexually abused girls. Because of the delicate nature of the children’s backgrounds, caretakers and staff play an essential role in each child’s road to recovery.

Through the sustainable income generated, WTF can pay caretakers and staff and ensure they are equipped with the training and education to provide the children with rehabilitation and therapeutic counseling, as well as aid in reintegrating them with family when possible.

For those children that are not eligible for reintegration, WTF provides a loving, caring home that places up to eight children in a house with a couple, who serve as ‘parents’. The center also provides legal aid for victims of sexual abuse, to help take their abusers to court.

On this World Water Day, we raise our glass of *clean* water to our latest project and all those working tirelessly to bring this basic human right to every single human. Cheers!

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Doing Good with Greenhouses

Greenhouses are something you may not think much about… especially when it comes to promoting social justice. But, in many parts of the world where food and finances are scarce, greenhouses can provide a sustainble food source, as well as income generating opportunities. These small glass buildings are designed to optimize plant growth and grant communities access to fresh produce throughout the year. We’ve created several greenhouse projects in Kenya, which have been successful in providing vegetables and generating funding for children, and we’re currently setting up another one.

Here’s our greenhouses being installed in Kenya.


Nearing harvest time with the tomatoes grown at the greenhouse.

In Nakuru, we installed six greenhouses, which grow lettuce, cabbage, onions, kale, spinach, green peppers, and red beets. By growing their own fresh produce, this children’s home has been able to save thousands of dollars that was normally spent on food costs. Some of that money has been reinvested into the project, through the implementation of a drip line system. The drip lines save water waste, as well as cost and time from the gardeners. Through selling the extra vegetables in the market, they’ve also been able to purchase cooking charcoal for the meals of the over 200 children who live at the home.

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The plants are flourishing at our greenhouse.

We also setup a greenhouse project in Nairobi, which has been producing thousands of pounds of vegetables. Among the varieties of produce grown are lettuce, tomatoes, kale and spinach, all of which go first to the 57 children who live at the home benefitting from the greenhouse. After that, the surplus produce is sold in the markets and the profits then cover their educational costs. In Kenya older children have to pay school fees to continue their studies… and with this greenhouse, these kids can!

A teacher at the home educating the children in Nairobi.

A teacher at the home educating the children in Nairobi.

At another location in Nairobi, we’re working on a greenhouse project that will provide food for 43 children. Like the other greenhouse projects, this one will first guarantee access to fresh, health vegetables to the kids everyday- something many of us take for granted. After that, the excess produce will be sold for profits, which will guarantee the children’s education. Also like our earlier projects, this greenhouse is environmentally friendly, and sustainable, as the income generated covers the cost of maintenance and gardeners. Find out more about this upcoming project and how you can be a part of a green revolution that puts food on the table and keeps kids in school.


Menstruation: Normal, Natural and Neglected

There exists a normal body function that affects the education, health and well-being of women all over the world, due to persisting taboos and lack of access to adequate supplies. It’s something that even in America, we’re often uncomfortable talking about: menstruation.

Even in 2016, most women in India do not use sanitary products for their periods. Instead, they use a variety of materials including newspapers and cow dung, which can have serious health implications. For example, 70% of all reproductive diseases in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene, which is something that can be greatly reduced through education and supplies. But getting feminine products is often prevented by the social taboos that majorly affect the 355 million women of menstruation age in India. Some of the other consequences from the myths surrounding menstruation is that the women are sometimes considered impure and barred from temples, can be excluded from the community during the duration of their period or forbidden from drinking from the same water supply as the rest of the village. And in addition to the social taboos, the solution isn’t as simple as shipping pads and tampons to India. There are major issues of disposable non-biodegradable feminine hygiene products in India, as many of the items end up being flushed down the toilet, which blocks sewers systems, or end up contributing to India’s landfill problems.

However, there are options being explored by advocates such as Anshu Gupta. Gupta founded a recycling center in New Delhi, where volunteers create cloth sanitary napkins for the women of India. Gupta created the organization to help change the social stigmas that surround menstruation and find a way to provide cheap, environmentally-friendly feminine hygiene products. These biodegradable pads are now being issued by the millions by the MyPad  and the Not Just a Piece of Cloth campaign. Gupta found that these products “gave these women, who neglect or are ignorant of this critical health issue, a sense of dignity and self-respect.”

Why is this important? Because without the proper sanitary products, women’s lives are greatly impacted.It’s difficult for many women to gain access to these necessities and live their normal lives because of stigma surrounding menstruation. In some parts of Kenya, for instance, women who are menstruating are prevented from interacting with livestock, preparing meals or eating any animal products. In some communities in Nepal, the banishment of menstruating women, known as chhaupadi is a common practice. Once a month, these women are forced to live in makeshift huts and are forbidden from socializing or sharing food with their families. This practice is not only damaging to a woman’s emotional state, but very dangerous, as it leaves the women exposed to the elements and to abductions. Mothers are taken away from their children, and the women are subjected to physical and emotional abuse from spiritual leaders, who believe the women have been possessed by demons.


Because of taboos like these and the lack of supplies, many girls are prevented from attending school while they have their period. In Kenya, girls miss an average of 20 days of school per year, according to a Duke University study. This puts girls at a disadvantage to achieving education equality and dissuades communities from investing in the education of girls.


Photo: Kitechild: School children at the Fiwagoh home, showing the harvest from our greenhouse project, that works to fund their education.

Photo: Kitechild: School children at the Fiwagoh home, showing the harvest from our greenhouse project, that works to fund their education.

As an organization that focuses on the quality of care and educational opportunities of vulnerable children in their communities, this is a huge concern for us. Education is pivotal to breaking the cycle of poverty. We work to raise the quality of life for vulnerable children, especially those living in orphanages. We know that poverty is the main contributing factor that leads to children living their lives in an orphanage. Most of these children have one or both living parents, but their families simply cannot support them financially. If we can break down the barriers that prevent children from getting their education, like obstacles related to menstruation, we can help people permanently rise out of poverty. By escaping the cycle of poverty, more families will be able to care for their children in their home, which is infinitely better for the well-being of all involved.

One of the most important things we can do is to bring attention to this issue and not be afraid of having frank conversations about menstruation. Nancy Muller, of the NGO Path,  sees the fear of discussion as a major obstacle to helping these vulnerable women and girls. “People prefer not to think about it or talk about it. It’s a challenge to secure funding because menstruation is not seen as a critical or life-threatening issue,” said Muller.

Even in America, there is a lot of work to be done for the accessibility of sanitary products, but luckily, progress is being made. Chicago just banned the tax on tampons and pads, by a unanimous vote. And the New York Assembly has just passed Linda Rosenthal’s legislation to exempt feminine hygiene products from state sales taxes. Rosenthal calls taxes like this, “a regressive tax on women and their bodies.” Activists in Canada have also been successful in getting their government to repeal taxes on pads and tampons. It seems that more and more states and countries are waking up to the importance of accessibility to sanitary products… and as we keep bringing attention to women’s health issues, things can only improve for women and girls everywhere.












Nauru: Children in Detention Centers


Photo Credit: Free the Children NAURU

Children have been making the journey to Australia from Indonesia by boat, only to be met with continued hardships. They are sent to detention centers, no matter how young they are or if they are unaccompanied. The Australian detention centers on Manus Island and Nauru Island each can house approximately 1,500 people, who are detained there for 445 days, on average. Some children have been living in Nauru for three years, in terrible conditions that are unsuitable and dangerous.


Photo Credit: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

The centers have been “a state-sanctioned form of child abuse,” by Brian Owler, the Australian Medical Association president. It’s hard to get details and aid to these children, due to the secrecy surrounding these centers. The government has forbidden any journalists from the detention centers and forbids those working in the detention centers from releasing any information. But what we do know about the situation is horrifying. A report from the Australian Human Rights Commission has documented some of the trauma experienced by these kids, including multiple attempted suicides.


Photo Credit: Kristian Silva/ABC News

The debate over the children being sent to Nauru has been brought to a head by the story of Baby Asha. After suffering serious burns at Nauru, the infant was removed to receive necessary medical care. The doctors overseeing the baby at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital have been refusing to release Asha, as the Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says that the baby will be sent back to a detention center. In addition to Asha, hundreds more, including children, are set to be deported to the camps on Nauru and Manus Island. Dutton has said that these 267 people awaiting deportation will be sent to the detention centers or back to their countries of origin, even though New Zealand has offered to take in at least 150 asylum-seekers.

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People around the world have been moved to action to protect these refugees. Whether on the streets protesting or taking to social media with the hashtag #LetThemStay, people have been raising their voices, on behalf of asylum seekers. There is another large protest scheduled for March 20th in Sydney, which will hopefully have a political impact to help these people. Organizations like the Refugee Action Coalition Sydney (hyperlink to http://www.refugeeaction.org.au/?page_id=1090) the Refugee Council of Austrial (hyperlink to http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/get-involved/volunteering/) and the Refugee Action Collective (hyperlink to http://www.rac-qld.org/#!get-involved/cxz1) offer resources and information for those who want to get involved. Whether you volunteer or bring attention to the issue via social media, you can show your solidarity with these asylum-seekers.










Did you know that Monday is the UN International Day of Peace? It’s a day observed every September 21st and this year’s theme is something that we’re really excited about: Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All. We believe every person and every child deserves to live a life of dignity and we want to do everything we can to make this a reality. Are you willing to take the #PeaceDayChallenge and do just one thing for peace on Monday? Find out how every person can make a difference: bit.ly/1LOKeCb  

A happy #tbt with our friends from Kenya! We visited the Watoto Wema home in 2012 and can’t wait to go back! It’s amazing what’s happened in 3 years: a greenhouse, a chicken farm and a clean water project. We’ve been grateful to work with this home and the 57 children who live there. Together, this partnership has improved the health, nutrition and wellbeing of these children and we know it’ll only keep getting better!  

Photo: Christof Stache / AFP / Getty Images

These are heart lifting stories from @BuzzFeed that show the humanity and compassion being shown as the refugee crisis continues to unfold. Even in the darkest of times, there is more love than hate and more people who care than don’t. See these touching photos: http://goo.gl/YzlPr7 

Photo: Martin Godwin for the Guardian; Collection of items to be donated to refugees

In light of the recent news of the Syrian refugees, many people around the world feel compelled to help in someway. However, the question is how and in what way will be the most effective? This Thursday there will be a live Q&A on how ordinary people can help refugees and what role they can play within NGOs. The panel of experts will answer questions through a live chat @Guardian on twitter by using the #globaldevlive or  on the website: http://goo.gl/UZvQIW