Yesterday, I heard a story of how Kisumu was named. From what I gathered of the story, long ago, people would travel to this area when they had no food. They would be given grain. So, the Luo people called this place Kisuma, or “the assistance” as in, go and seek assistance when there is famine. People can be kind anywhere. But after years of being accustomed to the ways giving and caring is enmeshed in African social structure, I feel it every time. Finding ways to turn this assistance into empowerment is what keeps my heart and head churning.
This week I attended a training given by nutritionists from the Kisumu District Hospital at OLPS, the office where I work. They demonstrated the correct ways to measure a child’s height, weight, and went over the signs of chronic malnourishment of children. These conditions leave children skeletal, or with swollen bellies, though they are not so common in Kenya now, disturbing cases remain. As a team of nutritionists and social workers, and myself, we discussed the ways to prevent children from reaching this stage of undernourishment.
I also met with a few of the caregivers as we planted sukuma wiki, kale, on the farm. The caregivers were far too jovial and kind to me, as I am clearly the slowest farmhand this side of the Nile. Probably, all sides of the Nile.
Our vision behind Rita Rose Garden and Farm goes beyond supporting these caregivers by improving their families’ livelihoods. The Kisumu Rescue Center is another project of OLPS. The center will provide a home and rehabilitation for 20+ vulnerable children who have faced a myriad of obstacles, most often associated with the death of a parent by HIV/AIDS. The center is a unique alternative model to traditional orphanages. By scaling up the yields of the Rita Rose Garden and Farm, we aim to provide food for the rescue center year-round.
In other buzzworthy news, we will begin to invigorate our honey production as we build a shade structure for the beehives, improve their foundation, and plant sunflowers and other foliage for them.
Help us guarantee a food secure Kisumu by giving at https://stayclassy.org.ritarose
Photo featuring nutritionists from Kisumu District Hospital and a very willing baby model.