KIMANA, Kenya — Drought in the third world is crippling to families who do not have a direct connection to a water supply. No rain means no crops. No crops, no food. If they are lucky enough to live near a river, they may be able to dig a canal to bring the water closer to their crops and carry back-breaking bucket after bucket of water to irrigate their plants, but often this is not the case.
During a recent visit to Kenya I met a young Masai boy and his family who battle hunger every day. Three-year-old Lampati was so hungry that he rushed to try to get and get some of the hot porridge his mom was cooking over an open fire in their home and it spilled on him. I was in Lamapati’s village to celebrate the opening of a new school built by Operation Blessing and also a well that had just been drilled that day.
Our Kenya office had been working with Lampati and his mother to treat his burns and wanted our team to meet them. I was introduced to Lampati’s mother, Lasoi at the well ceremony, and his 6-year-old brother Tihayo at the new school. Lasoi was really excited about having a water supply much closer to her home and the opportunity for her children to get an education. We told her we would stop by later that afternoon.
When we arrived at their very humble home – even by Masai standards – we stood and talked with Lasoi. Inside their mud-and-straw hut, I saw her two other children sitting in the room next to us. I smiled and took their picture, but as I looked into the eyes of Tihayo and Roisorwa, I could only see desperation and I couldn’t take any more pictures. At this point my Kenyan colleague informed me that two of her other children had died from malnutrition the year before. My heart was filled with compassion for her and the difficult struggle she is facing.
“Where is the father? “ I asked.
“He doesn’t live here. He raises cattle for only $12 a month. It is not enough,” Lasoi responded.
“I cut fire wood to sell at the market, but it isn’t enough… I also do work for other people to help raise a little money to buy food for my children.”
“Is it enough for your children to eat at least once every day?” I asked.
“Not enough. I feel bad because some of my children have to go and beg for food from my neighbors.”
Fortunately, there’s a solution in place to help Lasoi and other struggling families.
A food program is about to start at the new OBI school that will provide children with a hot meal and a snack each day. And now with the new well in place, construction can also begin on an irrigation system that will supply water to a community farm where Lasoi and other villagers can grow food to eat and also sell to earn income.
I have not stopped praying for Lasoi, her son Lampati, and the other struggling families as they work toward recovery. When life gives you drought, it’s never good…but I’m so thankful that Operation Blessing and friends like you are there to give people hope through sustainable solutions that are fighting hunger and saving lives.