The Challenge of Food Insecurity

The Challenge of Food Insecurity

The Problem – 1 out of 7 people do not have enough food to eat

People all over the world are struggling with food insecurity. They lack the nutrition they need for brain development as children. As a result, poverty continues from generation to generation.

Imagine if you were in a situation where every day you wondered where your next meal would come from. Even worse, how are you going to feed your children? This is the reality for almost a billion people around the world.

When we started working with families, they shared with us that their number one challenge is not enough food. It’s a daily struggle that is never-ending. There is constant depression, anxiety, and stress that goes along with chronic hunger.

The Possibility – Teach a Family How to Grow Their Own Food

When we first began working with families, we focused on teaching them square foot gardening. The first year we built 21 raised garden beds. A few of them worked, but there is a continuous water challenge in Kenya, so often the vegetables would dry out. Pests were also a challenge.

Because Kenya is experiencing deforestation, we didn’t want to keep contributing to cutting down trees to make the garden boxes. One of our community directors was introduced to the Garden Tower, a mesh plastic vertical bag with holes that could grow plants.

They required less water than the garden boxes, and would grow more vegetables in less space. We decided to try it as a possible solution.

The Plan – Build Simple Garden Towers to Increase Nutrition

In June 2018, we took an expedition team to Kenya with 21 people. Most of them were teenagers, so we decided we would build the first garden towers at Kotolian School in Nkareta, a rural community in Narok County. The school had started a few years before, and had just expanded to Secondary School, so they were in need of a better way to provide lunch to students and teachers.

We then built garden towers with one of the families we had previously visited with garden boxes. We wanted to compare how they would work side by side.

Finally, we created a plan to build a community garden where families could gather and work together.

The Promise – Expand to More Families Each Week

As you can see from the pictures, the garden towers were successful. We knew that we needed to reach more families, and at $20 a garden tower, it was more cost effective than the garden boxes. It also didn’t require cutting down trees.

We made a promise that when we came back, we would build garden towers with 10 families in the community. Did we keep our promise? Yes, in ways that we couldn’t possibly imagine!

Women’s Initiatives: 100 Humanitarians Meets the HopeSaC

Women’s Initiatives: 100 Humanitarians Meets the HopeSaC

Who would have thought a chance meeting in the spring of 2018 would have placed me where I am today? Teaching thermal cooking to women in rural communities in Kenya.

Of all things, it was at a sew-a-thon, sewing underwear that I first met Heidi Totten. I knew she ran some kind of humanitarian thing and I wanted to see what she thought about the thermal cooking bag I called a HopeSaC, which stands for Hope, Service and Charity.

Long story short, Heidi took 5 HopeSaC kits to Kenya in June of 2018. A HopeSaC kit includes pre-sewn components for a fabric thermal cooker. Once filled with insulation it can be used to cook, saving time, fuel and money.

The first thing Heidi said to me after returning from her June trip was “I want you on the trip in October with more of those HopeSaCs”.

Like I would say “no”. ๐Ÿ™‚

Where does one even start when sharing Kenya? The trip was over-the-top amazing! I loved everything about the experience. But of course, my time sharing HopeSaC with the people was the activity closest to my heart.

We took 30 HopeSaC kits on the October 2019 trip. Some of the kits went to Bomet, others to the Mara and the Rescue center in Narok. But the two days we spent in Nkareta were something special.

The days were hot. Much of the time was spent building GardenSaCs/towers at the homes of people in the community. I remember at one point someone coming to me and saying, “Cindy, you have got to see this”.ย  After which I was escorted into a kitchen. It was actually a mud hut, inside the door was a short walkway which lead to one small room with three-bed areas. In the center toward the back wall, I could see the glow of embers in a version of a clay rocket stove. It was U shaped leaving one side open to feed kindling and keep the fire going, a pot sitting on top. Yes, the room was hot, unbearably, and smoky, my eyes were burning, but what affected me the most was the darkness. It was almost pitch black inside with no electricity to turn on a light.

All I could think about was “this is why I do this” one cooker at a time.

We spent some time showing the women how to use the HopeSaCs. They gathered around and were listening, watching and asking questions. All with skepticism showing clearly on their faces. They seriously thought I was crazy. What made it worse was that the pot I had brought from the hotel could not be placed on the open flame so they had to pour boiling water over the rice instead of bringing it to a boil. Not something I would suggest doing by the way.

Their skepticism was short lived. Just over an hour later I opened the HopeSaC to reveal beautifully cooked rice. The room was abuzz with excited and surprised women speaking quickly to each other.

They liked the HopeSaCs! ๐Ÿ™‚

A few of weeks later I received pictures showing the women working together, teaching each other how to use the HopeSaC cookers.ย  I love those pictures and what they represent!

I leave again next week, making my way back to Kenya. It has been four months since my first trip. 100 Humanitarian and The HopeSaC Project will be hosting a ceremony in Nkareta for 25 women who are now HopeSaC Certified Users. We will be taking HopeSaC kits with us for 15 more families in Nkareta, and more to Bomet where 20 families will start learning and teaching each other the art of retained heat cooking.

Amazing.

Here we are, it is almost spring again, one short year later.

It has been an amazing and very humbling journey.

And it is only the beginning.

Stay tuned. ๐Ÿ™‚

The $5 Friday Fundraisers on Facebook

The $5 Friday Fundraisers on Facebook

What is a $5 Friday Fundraiser on Facebook?

$5 Friday Fundraisers on Facebook began back in July 2015 when we decided to start 100 Humanitarians International. We were able to fundraise for 25 desks for Tenkes School, and later we added a new kitchen to cook for 300 kids daily, because their mud kitchen had fallen down in a rainstorm.ย After that, we would just sporadically run a $5 Friday Fundraiser, until Facebook created the capability for us to do it on their platform. Game-changer! Suddenly we could reach more people, and since we are a non-profit, 100% of the fees were waived, therefore 100% of donations could go towards a project. Brilliant!

Our first Facebook $5 Friday Fundraiser was in July of 2018. We decided we wanted to raise the money to build 100 Garden Towers in Kenya for Families on our expeditions. The goal was $1000. Thanks to generous donations, we were able to fundraise $1300, allowing us to start a vegetable seedling garden to use for the garden towers. We will begin with 20 families on our Fall expedition! We got the idea last June from Jacob, our community director for Nkareta, and were able to build 8 garden towers. four were at a school in Nkareta, and then we planted two garden towers for two families that we have worked with over the past year.

We have also built raised garden beds with families, but have found these to be easier, more portable, and more cost effective. We can pile up the jeeps with bags and take them to multiple locations easily! We are really grateful for the ability to get more done and help more families with this innovation.

 

 

 

Our August $5 Friday Fundraiser was also unbelievably successful, and we were able to finish our commitment to provide 1000 reusable feminine hygiene kits to women and girls in Kenya. They were distributed to three schools in Nairobi, Nkareta, and Bomet, as well as women in the slums who were in the Kenyan news about not having access to sanitary pads.

We were able to raise $3000 in August for the Zariel Days for Girls Enterprise and Christine took kits to the street women featured in this news segment. On each expedition, our team takes kits to schools and rescue centers, providing 3 years of dignity for women and girls who don’t have access to the sanitary pads. Our commitment is 1000 kits per year, and ALL of the kits are made by the Zariel or Bomet Days for Girls Enterprises in Kenya, so that we keep the economy there, and also help families with self-reliance and economic development.

The Enterprises that we support, employ families to sew and distribute the kits, which allows those families to pay for food and school fees for their children. Along with the 25 children we support in school directly in Kenya, at least 12 additional students are supported in school because we fundraise here for the reusable femining hygiene kits, and allow the families in Kenya to make them. It keeps our focus on economic development and self-reliance in families.

Our goal for 2019 will be 1000 kits (or more) as well, so watch for that $5 Friday Fundraiser!

 

Our September $5 Friday Fundraiser was in partnership with HopeSaC International, which is run by Cindy Miller. Our goal was to raise the funds to take 20 HopeSaCs to Kenya on our Fall expedition to teach families how to cook with thermal cooking. We were able to reach our goal! We will also be working with the sewing centers in Kenya to teach them how to make and sell the HopeSaCs, saving time and fuel costs, and providing hot meals without spending hours cooking over a fire.

And finally, our October/November $5 Friday Fundraiser is for School Fees for 25 kids in Kenya. These kids come from families we are working with, and range in age from Kindergarten to Vincent, who is graduating this year after 3 years in our Youth Education Program. We met Vincent when he was a Sophomore, and have had the chance to support him in school and watch his family really thrive from it. Mercy, his mother who is in this video, was a recipient of our Business Box for Families, and now has a vegetable stand where she sells vegetables. We have had the opportunity to visit her twice this year, and her smile says it all. She is very happy.

If you would like to help contribute to the $5 Friday Fundraiser to raise the $6000 needed for school fees in 2019, click here!