Planting seeds in the Oasis of Hope garden

Today, our associate in Kenya, Kennedy Onyango posted this message on the CanAssist African Relief Trust Facebook page. I want to share it. It read:

“Yesterday (6th August, 2013), I found myself thinking about all the seeds our friends, well-wishers and supporters has sown down through the years. The CanAssist African Relief Trust family have given an enormous amount of money to help hurting children of Usare Village, Mbita District, Kenya. There’s no telling how many lives we have touched through your infrastructural support. Beyond that, for nearly half a decade, Hope School has been a lighthouse, not only to our own community but beaming a message of hope and encouragement to people all over the world as it provides an opportunity to lend a helping hand of caring for the poor. 

There is never a quiet day at Hope School, and every day is different. It is most certainly an exciting and challenging place to be. It is amazing to watch as seeds of hope are planted, nourished and encouraged to grow. Teachers and counsellors plant these seeds, the little angelic girls plant these seeds for each other, sponsors plant these seeds, donors and other partners plant these seeds. It is a wonderful privilege to both plant and to watch the seeds grow.”

This classroom was constructed in early 2013 at Hope School, Mbita with CanAssist funding (helped greatly by the Sasamat Foundation)

This classroom was constructed in early 2013 at Hope School, Mbita with CanAssist funding (helped greatly by the Sasamat Foundation)

In 2012, the CanAssist African Relief Trust partnered with Kennedy and the ETDC organization in Mbita Kenya to help them with development of a school for vulnerable young children in their community. The school is called HOPE SCHOOL. Our first project with them was to fence and irrigate a garden at their rural school property. The school said that they would name this garden The Oasis of Hope. It has turned out to be just that.

In Africa latrines are hand dug, often to a depth of 40 feet, through sand, gravel and stone.  A long labour-intensive job.

In Africa latrines are hand dug, often to a depth of 40 feet, through sand, gravel and stone. A long labour-intensive job.

Later in the year with significant help from CanAssist donors and donations to CanAssist from the Sasamat Foundation in British Columbia and the Toronto Rotary Club, we were able to build two new classrooms for the school. Right now we are in the process of installing latrines at the two school sites.

Kennedy Onyango sent me photos last month of the garden that is thriving and will be able to offer nourishment to the children at the school. Prior to CanAssist’s involvement here, this was a barren piece of land. Last year there was a bumper crop and Kennedy anticipates even better this year. Here is what he reports from the yield last year :

Kennedy Onyango outside the school gate in early 2012.  Along with CanAssist he was ready to "plant the seeds" of development that will help his community.

Kennedy Onyango outside the school gate in early 2012. Along with CanAssist he was ready to “plant the seeds” of development that will help his community.

“Last year we harvested 900Kgs of sourghum, 360Kgs of beans and 120Kgs of Maize in the Oasis of Hope Garden. The sourghum was mixed with cassava which we bought to make porridge for the children. We bought 4, 500kgs of cassava and this served from July 2012 up to April 2013. It served the two campuses of Hope School with current enrollment of 275 children in total. Thanks a lot to CanAssist Relief Trust and Donors for having made this possible. We look forward for a similar or more Kgs of sourghum this year.”

(Sorghum is a cereal crop that is not common in Canada but a staple in many tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world. It is relatively high in fibre, iron and even protein and is a whole grain that is added to other carbohydrates to supplement nutritional needs. Cassava is grown as a bush-like plant with large white tubers that are harvested and cooked like potato as a good filling source of carbohydrate. Cassava may be filling but contains little protein so admixture with sorghum or beans is important to avoid protein malnutrition, a common problem in poor tropical areas.)

The thriving school farm - CAART fundedThe children who attend the Hope School come from very vulnerable situations. Many are orphans or partial orphans and most live in poverty. Many come to school on an empty stomach so the bowl of sorghum and cassava or maize that the school provides may be the only sustaining nourishment the children get. Provision of a school meal has proven to be beneficial to African children and has been one of the strategies endorsed by the Millennium Village Project, initiated by Jeffrey Sachs. The prospect of receiving what may be the only meal of the day is a vital encouragement to them to attend school where they are able to receive an education..

I hope that donors to CanAssist can feel as satisfied as i do that the gifts that they give to CanAssist are being used effectively to improve the well-being of many, many people in East Africa. I am proud of the work we do and also proud of our African partners who work hard to make ensure a successful outcome for our joint projects.

The Oasis of Hope garden in February 2012 and April 2013. Seeds that flourished.

The Oasis of Hope garden in February 2012 and April 2013. Seeds that flourished.

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