The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid

by Bread and Water for Africa UK
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The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
The kids kitchen: daily meals in the wake of Covid
Water tower almost complete
Water tower almost complete

Water sanitation and hygiene are the most pressing issues in Sierra Leone, with only 3% of the whole population having access to safe, clean water.  Access to safe water has a direct effect on schools, improves the children’s hygiene, and lowers the risk of infectious and water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea.

Background to WAF’s school and garden

To improve the children at WATF School’s nutritional status, daily school meals were introduced and a very successful school garden was set up to supply most of the food. However, the increasing lack of water through climate change has meant that gardeners had to spend up to six hours each day fetching water. The lack of clean water also affected the school in terms of health, sanitation and drinking water.

Clean Water helps to keep Covid at bay

The need for a source of clean water increased in urgency following the outbreak of Covid in 2020, when the need for regular handwashing and cleaning became even more important. To solve this it was decided to install a solar-run water tower. As well as improving school hygiene, this would increase the harvest from the garden, and improve sanitation and hygiene for the entire community.

Installing the Solar-run Water Tower

With your help, finance was raised, and the installation work began in the autumn of 2021. A 100-feet-deep borehole was drilled, and a 12-foot water tower was built. The solar power pump was then installed in early December. Finally the 5000-litre water tanks were installed. The whole process took only three months to complete.

Five core staff were then trained on how to use and maintain the water tower:  two people from the WAF school, two from neighbouring schools, and one person from the local community.

This has been an incredible achievement and when it is fully operational will improve many generations to come, by ensuring that the children are provided with healthy meals and a clean, safe environment.

Water flowing out of the ground
Water flowing out of the ground
Children receiving lunch grown in the garden
Children receiving lunch grown in the garden
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Celebrating the new classroom.
Celebrating the new classroom.

Although last year came with many challenges, the final report proves that it was still very successful in many ways. The school achieved an incredible retention rate of 99%, which is very high for sub-Saharan Africa. As parents were anxious about their financial situation due to the pandemic, sending them to school meant that they were cared for and ensured that they had at least their daily school meal.

Most of the food for the lunches is grown in the Kitchen Garden, which was started by WAF five years ago, and has been continuing to develop ever since. As well as providing fresh produce it is a source of employment and training ground for young people and women.

Another great success we are happy to share with you is, that we finally had enough funding to start the construction of a water tower, that will serve the school and local community. It was built in four weeks only and we are now just waiting for the fundament to settle so the water tanks and solar panels can be installed. It will hold 10,000 litres of water, making life so much easier by reducing the watering time by 70%.

This will provide more freshwater for the garden, as well supplying fresh water for 300 local households. When the water tower is operating, the gardeners are planning to develop greenhouse technology, which produces more fruit and vegetables. The garden already has one greenhouse and they want to construct another four, which will more than double the yield. As well as supplying the school kitchen, this will enable them to sell more produce locally, which will help the project to be more sustainable.

Finally, another piece of good news is that the school has just completed a new classroom, plus four toilets. This will help the school to maintain social distancing in the classroom and improve sanitation and hygiene.

First classes in the new building.
First classes in the new building.
The ffinished fundament of the water tower.
The ffinished fundament of the water tower.
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New building from outside.
New building from outside.

Although the We Are the Future School was able to reopen its doors in October, after Lockdown measures have been eased, the school is still dealing with the implications of the pandemic.

The government announced the possibility of a third wave of covid-19 in mid-June and announced a new curfew on the 1st of July. Most public events are put on hold again, and social distancing measures and face masks are mandatory again. Educational institutions, including the We Are the Future School are allowed to stay open for now, but strict wearing of face masks, hand washing and social distancing must be followed.

As the school’s classrooms are relatively small and the number of new students increases continually, having enough space to be able to adhere to the social distancing measures is a real challenge. Already before the announcement of the third wave the school decided to create new space, to allow for more students in the next school year.

The building of a new classroom started in spring, and after the foundations being laid quickly, the first walls are already up as well. We hope to be able to finish the constructions in time for the start of the new school year in autumn. The new building will change the school environment drastically and ensure that we will be able to keep the school open with new government regulations in place. Besides the current situation already making it difficult to meet the financial needs to run the school and the community garden, the new requirements add to this strain. The building materials, construction workers and even new furniture including desks and chairs have to be financed.

We are aware that you probably have a lot of changes and challenges to face, yet your support would be greatly appreciated and even just a small donation has a great impact to ensure the sustainability of our project.

The inside.
The inside.
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As we reported in the autumn, the We Are The Future School was closed during the summer term because of Covid restrictions. Instead, the School was transformed into be a local hub, from which water, detergent, facemarks and food were delivered to. The kitchen garden continued to function and WAF distributed food to the local community.

The school and kitchen-garden re-open in October

In autumn 2020 the school re-opened with normal classes, and parents were confident enough to send their children back to school. The children and staff all wore masks in the classrooms, and regular handwashing and social distancing were maintained. The school roll is 238, with equal numbers of boys and girls, a very positive sign, given that many families do not feel it is worth educating girls. The term continued as normal, with end of term exams. 

Normal garden production restarted in October with the same very good quality fresh supplies of green vegetables: lettuce, green beans, peppers, kale, spinach, spring onions, cassava and potato leaves on a daily basis, providing healthy meal for the 238 children. 

Full tummies mean better grades

School staff have noted a continual significant reduction in school dropout, absenteeism and lateness, as children do not have to take time off to help their parents forage for food. A regular meal means there is a sharp drop in malnutrition among young children which accounted for most of the sick cases or in the worst case, death, before the project began.

Children’s grades improve year-on-year thanks to regular daily meals. In 2019 there was a 78% pass in the West African Examination Council-National Primary School Examination, required to enter Junior Secondary School. In 2020 this had risen to an incredible 92% pass rate.

The community sees the school as its own and are very proud of every success, and the example of the garden has encouraged some parents to start to cultivate their own small kitchen gardens.

A new water tower will help the school, and the local community.

GFYA is now fundraising for a water tower to supply the kitchen garden. It would provide 10,000 litres of water and enough pressure to operate a drip irrigation system, reducing watering time by 70%. The new water supply, drilled from underground would be purer, increasing the quality of the crops, and produce clean water for 300 local households, as well as extending the garden so it could feed a neighbouring school of 450 children as well.  

Little By Little Campaign: your donation goes the extra mile

GlobalGiving is running the Little By Little campaign. Every donation up to $50 between March 8th till the 12th, will be matched 50% by GlobalGiving. For example, if you give $0, that's $30 that will go to the project - at no extra cost to you - to help more children like Martin get the education they need to look forward to a brighter future.

I know you probably have a lot on your mind right now, but I hope you'll consider making a small gift, that would help GFYA extend the kitchen garden and hopefully be able to construct the water tower soon.

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Women received her food rations
Women received her food rations

Maria aged 35 is a mother of three children; Sahr aged 5 years in Nursery II, Tenneh aged 10 years in primary class 4 and Faith aged 12 years in primary class 6. Her husband who is a private soldier was sent to work in the boarder close to Liberia, and is married to another woman with 3 other children. To maintain her own children, Maria sells Arts and Craft along the beach, and she also owns a stall to display her goods. Her trade largely depends on the tourism sector, which is one of the most affected sector by the COVID-19 in Sierra Leone.

Maria used to buy books, bags, shoes and uniform for all her children before the reopening of schools for every new school year. All the three children were promoted to a new class and that brought joy to Maria and the children. The sad part of it is that because of the impact of COVID-19 she couldn’t save money to buy books, bags, shoe and new uniform for them to start the new school year in their new classes. She decided to come to the school to ask for help.

Bread and Water for Africa are currently working hard to raise funds to help Maaria and other mothers like her.

Key Achievments: As schools in Sierra Leone are currently closed due to the lockdown measure, this also means doors of the Kids Kitchen have to remain closed too. To be able to still help the community and continue to support the families in need, the Project became creative and reallocated its funds. Due to the experience with the Ebola crisis, the team was aware of the communities’ needs in a serious situation like this one and was able to respond quickly. In united effort with the Local Women’s Organisation to which over 90% of all women in the community belong, the kids kitchen was able to identify 100 of the most vulnerable households. The funds usually used for the project was invested in buying food and essential goods and distributed to the poorest households in the community. Clean water is always a scarce and much need resource, yet in the face of a pandemic becomes even more important. Besides helping families with food, supplying them with drinking and cooking water is vital. Together with the funds provided by Bread and Water for Africa, the kids kitchen was able supply water to the community and reach over two thousand people.

Food provided by the community garden.
Food provided by the community garden.
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Organization Information

Bread and Water for Africa UK

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @bwauk
Project Leader:
Ruby Glasspool
London, United Kingdom
$6,078 raised of $7,682 goal
 
197 donations
$1,604 to go
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