Feeding Children in Kenya
by Jerri Savuto
Adapted from a letter by Jerri Savuto, February 2005
Priscilla is a seven year old AIDS orphan living with her grandmother and two brothers. When we first met he children had little food, were malnourished and could not go to school as their grandmother had no income. Priscilla and her brothers became part of the Maua Methodist Hospital (MMH) AIDS Orphan program and are now attending school and doing excellent work; they are well fed, joyful and extremely thankful to God, MMH, and the United Methodists.
Maua Methodist Hospital is a 250 bed hospital in central Kenya serving about 600,000 people. It started an AIDS Orphan Program in 2001 which became vital to the community due to the large and growing number of orphans and our desire to share hope, faith, food, education and the love of God. Initially, the program could only help ten children because of limited resources but the Director of Community Health at MMH, Stanley Gitari, submitted grant requests for food assistance to outside agencies in the hope of reaching more.
In the Maua area of Kenya most orphans live with their grandmothers. A grandmother's security rests with her sons who, with their own families, will feed, cloth and care for her in her old age. However, when AIDS kills sons and daughters in law, grandmothers are left with orphaned grandchildren to care for and no means of support. They have no land, no food and no resources for education.
The AIDS Orphan program was started to feed and educate children because Jesus calls us to feed the hungry and bring His Good News to all. We gave corn, beans and cooking oil to the grandmothers; we bought school uniforms and shoes and paid the necessary school fees so that the children could attend school. After several months of feeding ten children and sending them to school, we began to receive funds from United Methodists through the Advance Special and the program began to grow as a result of this sharing of God's love.
We had been operating for over a year when Mr. Gitari was notified that the MMH AIDS Orphan Program would receive food donated by USAID. The amount of food would be based on the grant request submitted earlier which listed the names of children in the area that needed help and it was stipulated that the aid had to be given to those specific families. We were delighted even though by this time the assistance would not be enough for all the program’s beneficiaries.
When the USAID food arrived, the word went out to the grandmothers that they should come to the hospital compound for collection and hundreds came. We carefully explained that only those women whose grandchildren were on the donor’s list could receive the food. They all sat quietly and listened. They did not question or complain even though they knew that many would not receive anything.
As the names were called out, groups joyfully came forward to receive supplies. The process took many hours. Each named child received 2.2 liters of oil and 40 pounds of a high protein grain mix. None of the official beneficiaries left after receiving their food but returned to their small waiting groups.
Only grandmothers and orphans whose names were on the donor’s list received
food from the hospital personnel. However when everyone began to leave, we
noticed that every family had food. The grandmothers had shared with other
grandmothers. No one left that day without carrying oil and grain.
Our AIDS Orphans Program currently feeds 430 children and educates 195. There are many more we would like to help in the name of Jesus Christ through the global outreach of the United Methodist Church. If you would like to support an AIDS Orphan like Priscilla or her brothers through the program at Maua Methodist Hospital the cost is $15 per month per child. God will bless you as you give to bring His Kingdom of Love to the world.
Advance Special #140161 AIDS Orphans' Project, Maua Hospital, Kenya
Jerri Savuto is a registered nurse who, along with her husband served in Kenya as United Methodist missionaries from 1998 to 1003. Currently they are living in Texas where they serve as Mission Interpreters in Residence for the South Central Jurisdiction.
Date posted: Mar 22, 2005