SUPPORT FOR ORPHANS
When SGG first visited Busia in Western Kenya in 2007, the intention was to focus on projects which improved small-scale farming in that locality. However, SGG also believes in a ‘participatory approach’, which requires paying attention to the expressed wishes of the community of beneficiaries. In 2007 the people of Busia were in the depths of the HIV crisis with Busia District Development Plan stating that there were 17,137 orphans & vulnerable children [OVCs] out of a total population of 330,495. No orphanages existed to take these children and the great majority of these OVCs were living at the home of a relative, an aunt or grandmother. As 66% of the population of Busia were already living in absolute poverty and the average household income Ksh1239/- [about £10], the addition of extra young mouths was a significant drain on household resource and a major obstacle to progress. Thus, SGG undertook to support orphans as best we could.
In October/November 2019 all 9 current groups were visited to get a progress report. All still felt the need to continue with the feeding programme and were feeling the benefit of income generation from previous table banking. To read report click here. Children's names have been changed to protect their privacy. All carers have given permission to publish their names and stories.
Orphans at Namulekhwa Wedinye groups’s communal meal.
The initial aims were:
to support 959 OVCs and their 216 caregiving households. That support was originally planned to be a nutritious meal once a week which would cost ₤1/month/child for the 5 year period of 2008-2012;
to establish income-generation schemes so that help for the OVCs can continue after external funding has ceased.
The communal meal for Upendo-Buloma children.
However, 2008 brought the financial crisis to Europe, and in many cases a more hard-nosed attitude towards the needs of the African poor. By the end of 2008 it was realised that SGG would not have sufficient resources to significantly support nearly 1,000 orphans. Thus, it was agreed that a more sustainable goal was to support 500 such orphans with a regular supplementary meal once a week. Even raising the necessary £6,000 for such a programme proved to be a strain on SGG capacities, so in 2009 we continued the project by including income-generation activities for the guardians of orphans. These were funded through table-banking, which soon became a major activity within the Sustainable Global Gardens-Maendeleo Mashinani partnership
These are some of the orphans at Mukwano, waiting for their weekly meal. SGG's support of these orphans is not confined to feeding. In 2018 Mukwano guardians participated in a table banking goat project as well as a tree planting project. Each orphan was given 4 seedlings and a banana sucker to plant within their home shamba.
We have noticed that the OVC's in some groups are looking much better than they did 10 years ago when we first started the feeding programme. However, careful study of children in this area shows that many are affected by malnutrition with insufficient protein, fruit and vegetables in their diet. The challenge now is to improve child nutrition and educate guardians on nutritional matters rather than simply providing stomach filling carbohydrates.
Here are some of the 50 vulnerable children that Gladys Ochieng cares for in her home. These children are all poor and some have severe and multiple disabilities. While Gladys has often struggled in the past even to provide food for her children SGG members have in recent years provided food security as well as improving facilities at the children's home. Such improvements include a better kitchen with a rocket stove for more efficient cooking, more bunk beds and bedding so that fewer children have to sleep on the floor and a new kitchen garden to grow vegetables for better nutrition.
A limitation of our support for orphans is that many groups in Busia have orphans who are outside our programme. In response to this SGG invited two new community groups to join this programme in 2019. This has only been possible because two groups have stopped operating effectively so they are not receiving any funds from us at present. Whether such expansion will be a success depends largely on how much new sponsorship SGG can attract. Also in 2019 we are developing a partnership with Food Plant Solutions so we can place more emphasis on better child nutrition. Browse www.foodplantsolutions.org for more information about this. Some groups have already received a grant from us and have got a plot of land and started planting. Others will get support next time we visit.