Kisuma–Go and seek assistance

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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. 

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“Making simple miracles possible”

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Often when people here in the U.S. consider HIV/AIDS, hunger, or poverty in Africa, a cloudy image of hopelessness arises. Or they think the problem is too complicated to undertake.  Yes, there are difficulties that some Africans face. However, Africa is a big place,a continent with many countries, and many stories. People lead dynamic lives no matter what circumstances they face–they wake up each morning to try their hands, heart, and soul at this thing called life. And it’s not all that crazy, or difficult, to think that such lives are not so different from ours, or that the problem at hand is an impossible one to tackle.

Why Rita Rose Garden and Farm? We’re working with an organization in Kisumu on access to food for vulnerable families. We’re working on a sustainable solution. We have a great piece of land. It’s already very productive. Through the efforts of OLPS, Mama Hope, and the First Fifth Fellowship it has an abundant water source. This water has been extended to serve two villages in the area beyond the farm, effectively providing a clean water source accessible to 39,000 people.

We also have a greenhouse, 3 fishponds, beehives and a drip irrigation garden. This drip garden is one way we have approached a problem. By installing pipes that feed a small amount of water directly at the roots of a plant, we conserve water and improve crop yields throughout dry seasons. All of these are assets that will make the farm sustainable. I’ll be working with the community on a strategic plan to ensure that this farm reaches it’s full potential and is a source of food and income for generations of healthy families.

Please share this post and consider giving to support our efforts at:

http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=249512

The title of today’s post is from Our Lady of Perpetual Support, or OLPS. OLPS is behind the Rita Rose garden, an organization that supports people in Kisumu who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS in a myriad of ways. One of the things they do is support 700 orphans and vulnerable children by placing them with extended family, or others willing to take them into their own families. They also run an HIV/AIDS health clinic and offer outreach, counseling and testing services, as well as nutrition classes for new mothers, among other things. My fellow advocate, Camila, is working on their rescue center, providing a safe and stable home to women and children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. You can read about her project here: <http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=249422>.