Jambo Rafikis (Hello Friends)!
I wanted to send along something that was very humbling and inspiring for me personally and might strike a chord in you as well. Recently I spent 8 days on a service trip to Karen, Kenya (near Nairobi) with my family. We were able to see and do many amazing things during our time there, including seeing Massai missionaries, orphanages, widow’s homes, schools, and universities. However, for me personally, the day we spent in Kibera, Kenya at a school and orphanage were the most impactful.
Kibera, Kenya is possibly the largest slum on continent of Africa. The area is about 1100 acres with a population between 170,000-500,000 people according to current calculations. This equates to a population of 150-450 people per acre. You can see the picture below of homes comprised of scrap corrugated metal and wood pallets.
In addition to the obvious poverty in the area, there is massive corruption as well. So the limited resources that are available are stretched even further with those in power wrongfully skimming more for personal gain and leaving even less for the general population. It is said that when Kibera coughs, Kenya catches a cold. The explanation for this phrase is because this area has the propensity to be both a breeding ground for social revolt and physical disease. On one occasion in 2007 after the contentious elections a group of rioters in Kibera tore up 15 km of rail road that runs through the slum in an astonishing 10 minutes. As this track serves as the main supply line into Uganda, it caused massive logistic issues for the whole of east Africa. This is just one of many stories we heard recounting the political and social injustice that occurs as a daily part of life in Kibera.
After our walk through the town I must say I was pretty discouraged as the picture that was painted by our guides was not overwhelmingly positive. We then returned to the school near the centre of town where we then met up with Dr. Tom Clinton CEO of First Love. First Love is a ministry organization that provides for the needs of places such as Kibera all over the world. We got a tour of the school that First Love helps support in Kibera that has 1200 students ranging from 4 to 18 years old. The tour was mainly centred on the reason most of the students are at this school in the first place…the food. As daily regular meals are not easy to come by in Kibera, mothers will sacrifice greatly to get the small fees together for their children to attend. As I am passionate about food I was excited to see the process they used to feed 1200 students twice per day (talk about a peak!). We started with the cooking, which you can see consists of 3 massive wood-fired cookers similar to the one seen here. There is a nutrient rich porridge in the morning and a yellow-pea and corn mix for the afternoon. I asked how they were supported to serve so many children.
Phillip, the school’s director, explained they receive shipments from the WFP and their food cost is almost nothing as a result of this support and this is the very reason they are able to feed the 1200 students. I asked if by chance he had heard Yum! and he said that he had and pointed to my hat. They were visited by the WFP to see the appropriate use of food and to see the children’s needs. During the visit the WFP worker explained to Phillip the Yum!-WFP connection.
We were then able to help serve the end of breakfast, and the start of lunch. You can see here the recognizable ‘Red Cup’ that is used as a symbol for the WFP. They were being used to appropriately portion for breakfast and lunch. However, the next part was the absolute icing on the cake…actually, it’s the reason for the cake in the first place…time to feed the kids! The children mostly ate with their hands and a lucky few were armed with a spoon, but that was of little difference to them; they were just the happiest group chowing down on hot food. Just look at those smiles!!
Now that I’ve had a bit of time to process the trip I boiled this day down to 4 key learnings.
1. This food brought joy to the lives of these children and gave their mother’s relief to know their children were getting adequate food during the week.
2. That the WFP works! Not that I ever doubted that it did, but it’s almost like seeing a lion in a Zoo versus in the wild (which I also got to do!). Let me explain: Similar to how it’s fun to see the lion in the zoo; it is great to hear of all the good that WFP does around the world. However, silently watching a lion gracefully stalk through the open grass leaves you in awe; actually seeing the work of the WFP in action and the smiles of the children absolutely amazed me.
3. We have a great partner in the WFP. Phillip (the school director mentioned previously) had no idea what KFC, Taco Bell, or Pizza Hut was. However, because of the WFP worker that visited the site he DID know the name Yum!. Similar to how we are promoting WFP on the front lines in our stores, they are promoting us on the front line in Kenya. A true partner.
4. They are thankful, and so am I. Phillip asked me to say thank you to Yum! for helping the WFP to support organizations such as this school. However, without fail the people I meet on these service trips impact me far greater than I impact them. So, I am thankful for the work Phillip, First Love, and the World Food Programme is doing in Kibera, Kenya.
So this year as we are selling the world’s best chicken, tacos, and pizza I know I will be keeping in mind those faces and our mission to be the Defining Global Company that Feeds the World. Lastly, an official BIG thank you from Phillip and the 1200 students all the way in Kibera, Africa!