At a new feeding program on the southeastern slope of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Witness puts on her uniform then helps younger students at the children’s home prepare for school. It’s a brand new day, and no one wants to be late.
Witness is an orphan with a big smile, a love for language, and beautiful English skills. She has a lot of potential.
We saw a lot of potential at the home where Witness lives, called Mwika Hope, when we launched a feeding program there in February. As Convoy of Hope expands it’s ministry in Africa, Mwika Hope was our first program site in Tanzania.
At Mwika we saw a verdant paradise with cloud forests, pristine waterfalls, and well-kept banana and coffee plantations. But as mountain rivers slice this beautiful landscape, AIDS has sliced this society leaving orphans and entrenching poverty. Mwika Hope was doing something about this by taking in 41 children, but they lacked the resources to adequately feed and educate them. Our initial measurements here, in one of Tanzania’s breadbaskets, found most children were underweight or malnourished, with a mean BMI of 15 and several below 10.
Mwika Hope wanted food support, but they showed us opportunities for sustainability. There was an empty field, where there is now more than 2.5 acres of crops. There was a shed, which is now home to a milk cow. We worked with their older boys to build a fuel briquette press, turning waste into charcoal. And in October we will launch a poultry project for eggs to Increase the children’s protein consumption. As we help to meet their food needs, Mwika Hope is able to divert precious resources to educating the children.
Since we began working with our partners at Mwika, our Tanzania staff have started lunch programs in schools and built three life-changing women’s empowerment programs in Tanzania. We’ve also built partnerships that might someday develop into programs like that in Mwika.
Elsewhere in Africa this year we have started children’s feeding initiatives at primary schools in Ethiopia, where we continue with a broadly successful women’s economic empowerment program. And in Kenya we are supply lunch programs in schools and children’s homes across the country, feeding more than 2,500 promising children like Witness.
Potential is a beautiful thing.