Second distribution of TOS emergency aid for starving families in East Africa  

In October we reported on a new project initiated by the TOS in Kenya to provide emergency aid to families suffering current acute food shortage in a village to the east of Nairobi.

The second distribution of food to the 55 families being helped by the TOS has recently been accomplished. 

Mrs Usha Shah, TOS convenor in Nairobi, Kenya, provides the following report of the distribution in which she was personally involved.


Dear All,

The second distribution of food to our villagers in Kitui took place on October 6. Accompanied by Paulo, our local link with the village, I set off from Nairobi at 9 am. The journey took just under an hour as there were no traffic gridlocks on the way to Machakos where we met the pick-up carrying all 55 packages of maize flour, oil, salt and – this time – sugar.

The journey to Kitui was just as depressing as last time.  It was HOT: the sun was really out to establish its supremacy! The countryside is desolate and dry, dry, dry! The grass is scarce and brown. For miles around, one sees only bare trees, bushes and parched earth. This time we saw fewer people going about in search of water, perhaps because of the fierce heat.  It is a mystery how people can survive in such harsh conditions. At least those we have rallied round to assist are spared hunger for several months more….

We arrived at the venue but not before the pick-up stalled.  The ladies to whom we were due to distribute the food had to push it up the hill. Hard work it was! Accompanied by cries of greetings and the singing of songs, we made it to a shady spot. We chatted a bit about the possibility of keeping cows, goats and poultry for generating income.  I am a lacto-vegetarian but I do respect the lifestyle of others who may not be vegetarian.  This matter was therefore discussed.  I talked to the women, though, about the bore hole we have been investigating for them, so that in addition to having drinking water, they can plant high quality seeds and also fruit trees such as mango and papaya. I mentioned the fact that they would have to start a society to negotiate the purchase of a small plot of land for putting in the bore hole. The villagers were overwhelmed to learn that we wish to give them a water supply.  It means that they will no longer have to wander for miles in search of it and trudge home, heavily burdened.

I then showed them how to make cow dung fuel cakes. The women were impressed! This was followed by the distribution of pencils, sharpeners, biscuits and sweets to the children who then went off happily, leaving us to carry out the very disciplined and orderly distribution of the packages. The item that was welcomed with cheers was SUGAR.  I asked one lady why she was so happy about the sugar and she said with a wide grin, "Mama, sasa ta wezakunwa chai yakawaidatamutamusaaana!" (“Madam, now I will have real tea – very, very sweet!”).
After the distribution, we left for Nairobi.  The journey was short and traffic jam free.  I managed to fit in a sauna as perspiration poured from every pore in my body. Detoxing done at no cost!

The smiling faces of our villagers, who until August were facing starvation, are a great motivation for us.  So are your caring concern and interest in our reports.   Blessings to all of you!

Usha Shah
Convenor, TOS in Nairobi, Kenya

Here we are talking to the villagers about forming a society to acquire land to put in the bore hole. The registration takes very little time and will assist the members to use the water wisely and productively.  That is to say, when the land and the bore hole are in the name of a society, the whole group owns them and a committee decides how to regulate the use of the water.  If they were in the name of an individual, he or she may become difficult and usurp all rights. Owning the land and bore hole collectively will give the villagers the dignity of ownership. 
The land in Kitui is arid in all directions.

A blind lady in the group whom the others help to carry her package of food.

A widow and abandoned mother.  The other ladies in the group give her a helping hand too.


The TOS in Kenya, TOS groups in Australia, England, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the United States of America, and individuals are collectively supporting 55 families at a cost of 2,000 Kenyan shillings per month per family. This covers supplies of 22 kgs of maize meal, cooking oil and salt. That’s for a family of two parents and three children per month. (The total sum for the full period of six months including all five families comes to US$700.)

Donations are also needed for the planned bore hole to supply a safe source of water for the village. Usha Shah assures us of complete accountability in this project. As she has told us, not a penny of our donations is going on administrative costs such as is the case with the big charitable organisations on the spot.

For further information on the project or to send a donation, write to Diana, our international secretary, at tosinternational@wanadoo.fr.

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