A tale of two cities – part two

Our chief operating officer, Janet, recently travelled to Kenya. In part two of her blog, she shares the hope she found amidst the current crisis there.

Janet Haugh
Janet Haugh
Chief operating officer

Back to all stories | Posted on 12 May 2017 in Blog

Read more about Janet’s visit to Kenya in the first part of her blog.  

We travelled to the north of Kenya, to Lodwar in the county of Turkana. As the aeroplane made its descent, it felt like we had travelled to an entirely different country. In contrast to the bustling, hot, urban city of Eldoret where we had experienced torrential rain the evening before, Lodwar was a desert land – a dry, barren, vast expanse of sand and blistering heat which hit us the moment we stepped off the plane.

After meeting with the team from our partner, Caritas Lodwar, we agreed to leave at 6am the following morning to begin our visits to the Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres where some of the youngest children in our programme receive their Mary’s Meals alongside a nursery education. Our driver Joseph did a remarkable job to navigate the journey, occasionally deliberating which ‘road’ to take, when all I could see were tracks in the sand!

The journey was rugged and jerky, but it was worth it. The ECDs we visited were all entirely different, ranging from purpose-built buildings, to temporary hut structures or clearings under a tree, but all had teachers and all were serving Mary’s Meals.

Poverty spans across the whole of Kenya and I witnessed the impact of this on the faces of the children in Eldoret. However, it is acute in Turkana. The children we met were some of the most vulnerable I have seen. In one centre, there was a child pointed out to us by the teacher. This little boy had only recently enrolled at the ECD – and the teacher had identified that he was at risk of malnutrition – having clearly not been eating enough for some time. The teacher told us that unfortunately this was not unusual for newly enrolled children, but that now the child is receiving Mary’s Meals every day at school, this little boy’s health will improve, as it has for the other children in his class.

Although there was hunger and despair, you could still feel a real sense of hope. Children were singing the alphabet and counting their numbers – in fact I had to ask one class to stop counting when they reached 100, or they would have continued all day! There were smiling faces, especially when the teacher combined physical activities, like a dance, into the learning.

The situation in Turkana and nearby South Sudan may be dire, but the little acts of love that thousands of people around the world continue to make, including young people like Adap, ensure that thousands of children are receiving one meal every school day and these meals are changing children’s lives for the better.

During this time of crisis, the daily meal Mary’s Meals provides is not just a powerful incentive to come to school, but – more than ever – a vital lifeline for vulnerable children in desperate need of nourishment. Help us reach desperately hungry children today.

Millions are at risk. Help us reach desperately hungry children today.