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Two more distributions of TOS emergency aid for starving families in East Africa


Since September 2011, the TOS in Kenya has been providing emergency aid to families suffering current acute food shortage in a village to the east of Nairobi. 55 families are being helped through this project.

We have already shared the reports of the first and second food distribution. You’ll find these in the Featured Project section of the website.

At the end of 2011, the third and fourth distributions of food were accomplished together with further negotiations to set up a cooperative to manage a bore well and other village activities. Mrs Usha Shah, TOS convenor in Nairobi, Kenya, provides the following reports of these latest distributions in which she was personally involved.

Report of the third food distribution

Yesterday was the third donation to the residents of the Kauma Village in Kitui District. This time we travelled to Kitui via Thika and what a difference! It was really great to get on to the Kitui Road from the Thika turning. The drive of about two hundred kilometres was so good with no traffic at all. The road winds through fertile land and is very pleasing for about a hundred kilometres. But then as we crossed into Matuu and Kitui district, the scenario changed drastically. The green lush fields with maize, beans, pineapples and trees slowly diminished and harsh conditions emerged. Rocks, stones, bare land with dry brown grass and thorn trees dominated. The road was smooth to travel on but the scenery depressing.

The good things, though, are many. We arrived at the distribution place and were greeted once again by a tumultuous and heart-warming welcome! We sat down and talked about the making of fuel cakes, milk products, etc. as demonstrated in our last visit. We also talked about the registration of the society that will own the little piece of land and the bore hole to be constructed on it.  Everything is coming along better than expected:
The society has already been registered under the name “Wendowaaka Self Help Group” and a bank account opened. This name means: “Self-help group of loving women”. The chairlady, secretary and treasurer are all women!

A place where there is water has been identified and the local council of elders is meeting to approach the owner and decide on the purchase price. The depth to be dug will be assessed by the local Ministry-qualified assessor shortly. The three firms we have approached will then give us their quotes. As they do not do any assessing, the cost will include only digging to the water level, fitting the pumps and installing a storage tank for the water.
Through its management committee, the society will then decide how best to use the water. There are already 150 members and each will pay 200 Kenyan shillings (US$2) per month to pay for fencing, security and the management of the selling and distribution of the water.

The best news is that it has rained in the area and once-dry river beds have some water in them. It looks as if our families will have sufficient food by February when the TOS ends its food distribution. Let’s hope for the best.


The families were really glad and grateful to receive their rations. There were no treats such as stationery and biscuits for the children this time, though. They had all flocked to the venue and some of them were in terrible rags! I proposed that we give each of our 55 families five trees – avocado, pawpaw and mangoes. I have asked them for their preference.  Each tree will cost around 100 Kenyan shillings (US$1).

A sponsor outside the TOS will give the society a bull and some cows for milk.  The sale of the extra milk will be useful for generating income. Also, as the cattle breed, the society can sell cows to each family for their own use.

We returned to Nairobi at 5 pm once more happy to have done TOS work in the service of the Supreme.

Report of the fourth food distribution

Dear All,
First of all I wish you all a very happy 2012. I am pleased to let you know here how our fourth food distribution went. It took place on December 15.

Some family members visiting from the UK for the end of year festive season decided to come with me to Kitui this time, so we hired a bus and set out all together. A pillar of our local TOS team, Sarlaben, rang to say she really wished to join us but having returned from abroad just the day before, she could not manage it. So we started from home at 9.30 am, all very excited and happy to be seeing our project of caring for 55 families and helping them toward autonomy. This time all arrangements were made except for asking our supplier to get the food supply ready! I rang him the day before at 10 pm and it was so very nice of him to agree to do all that was necessary and get the lorry loaded, despite the late notice. As a result, Paolo, our usual local facilitator, could not come with us. He travelled to Machakos to accompany the lorry driver to the venue. We travelled to Kitui via Thika. The road is under construction so there were many detours but once we passed Thika it was smooth sailing.

We reached the venue in Kitui and were met by our dear lady villagers. On hand were the local government Chief Administrator and his Deputy. They had heard that the TOS was assisting their people with food. These were most unexpected guests, as to get some officials at a function like this is most unusual. We were given a rousing welcome with music, dancing and singing. The ladies, school children and residents presented items to entertain us. Then came the speeches by the Government Officers and me. They thanked the TOS for doing this project and said that they were happy that we will be giving the group a bore hole.


 Usha Shah with the Chief Administrator 

Entertaining the guests

The food distribution started and all helped to accomplish the task. The women were happy that they would have a cheerful Christmas. The visitors had brought books, stationery and sweets to donate which were accepted by the residents and their children. It was gratifying to see the smiling faces and happy people carrying their month's supply of food.

The rains have arrived and made things easier. The bore hole will give a tremendous boost to our efforts to raise the quality of life of our villagers. Imagine spending hours each day scouring for a little water!

This time the villagers were reluctant to let us leave for home.  As you will see in the photo to the right, a young girl held on to me and nestled in with closed eyes. What a sincere and touching expression of brotherliness! This is all possible because of the generosity of TOS members round the world. I pass on the hug, the love and the happiness of that little girl to each one of you who has helped our project directly or indirectly.

It was quite late by the time we prepared to depart. We left the venue around 5 pm and it took us three and a half hours to make it back to Nairobi. We were tired, hot, dusty and hungry but very happy to have done what we had done – given 55 families another month free of worry, the assurance of a daily meal and food with which to celebrate at Christmas.

Usha Shah
Convenor, TOS in Nairobi, Kenya

The TOS in Kenya, TOS groups in Australia, England, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand 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 necessarily 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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