Poverty is the first enemy of a solid education. According to UNICEF’s World Hunger Series 2006 Report, “In 2000, an estimated 100 million school-age children around the world were not enrolled in school (UIS 2003). In many countries, especially in Africa, more than 30%, or even 50% percent of primary school-age children are not enrolled in large part because of hunger.”
Parents, struggling daily just to survive may feel they have to choose between school for their children or having them be source of income for the family doing menial labor, but if the children are provided with one or two good meals per day at school, the education becomes a vehicle for immediate and long-term benefit.
From January 2007 until December 2013, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development, in partnership with the local community, provided daily breakfast and lunch to over 500 pre-school, kindergarten and primary school children in two schools in the Kariobangi slum area of Nairobi, Kenya. The objectives of this program were to improve the children’s nutrition and to increase attendance, reduce dropout rates and improve overall academic performance, especially among girls.
Mercy-USA provided the children at KDNS with 250 new chairs, repainted other chairs tables and installed new playground equipment. The children now have a slide, seesaw and five new swings, as well as a repainted climbing frame. Mercy-USA also provided KDNS and Watoto Weto schools with new kitchen utensils and serving containers, and rehabilitated the kitchen workspaces.
During 2006, Mercy-USA repaired the kitchens and food storage rooms in six other schools in Kariobangi and installed new jikos (locally-designed, relatively inexpensive and efficient wood and charcoal burning stoves) in four of the schools. Over 8,000 children, who now have improved and more sanitary kitchen facilities, attend these six schools.
- From October 2010 to February 2011, Mercy-USA dug three manually-operated water boreholes to provide safe drinking water in the Bodhai Division of Ijara District of Kenya’s North Eastern Province. Bodhai Division has an approximate population of 5,000 and suffers from unreliable water-source infrastructure and a high poverty rate. The residents are mostly agro-pastoralists and subsistence farmers.
- From September 2009 to February 2010, Mercy-USA dug five boreholes for about 4,000 persons in the greater Mombasa, Kenya area. Located in five communities in the districts of Kisauni and Mombasa Island, these safe-water sources include four electric pump-powered boreholes with water storage tanks and individual faucets in semi-urban areas, and one manually operated borehole in a remote village.
- In 2001, Mercy-USA, in partnership with the local charity Dagoretti Health Community Services, rehabilitated ten wells in the Dagoretti Division of Kenya (near the capital of Nairobi). Many of the 70,000 residents of this area now have access to safe and sanitary drinking water.
- In 2002, Mercy-USA provided 60 HIV/AIDS orphans at the Child Rescue Center in Sotik, Kenya (about 150 miles southwest of Nairobi) with a variety of materials to support their education, and provide for their shelter, and improve the hygienic situation at the center.
These orphans are now benefiting from new classroom furniture, including tables and individual desks and chairs. Mercy-USA also distributed 60 new beds with all bedding items, and provided construction material to build two new restrooms.