Eunice Wanjiku (left) and her son, Josephat Njenga, discuss how they can conserve the food they received from the Compassion-assisted center in order to safeguard it against insects and mold.
ONGATA RONGAI, Kenya Sixteen-year-old Josephat remembers what it was like before drought and famine enveloped his village in Ongata Rongai, but the memories are distant and fuzzy. He more clearly recalls lying in bed, his body bloated with hunger while his mother, Eunice, sat by his side and sang a familiar song: "Jesus is passing this way, this way today. Jesus is passing this way, is passing this way today." Her smooth voice brought comfort, and for a moment, he would forget the hunger.
A Pursuit for Survival
But even a mother's love does not fill an empty stomach. Millions of families in Kenya have been affected by drought, and though the government provides some rations for the people, lines are long and the supplies quickly run out.
"I would go around the village and send my four children to see where the government was going to distribute supplies next," says Eunice, her voice cracking with emotion. "I was affected by polio as a child, so I cannot walk as fast as the others. There were many times we didn't have any food to eat."
A Lifesaving Announcement
Just when Eunice had come to the end of her resources, Jesus truly did pass her way. One Sunday as Eunice and her children sat at the morning service at the Deliverance Church, the pastor announced that famine relief food would be distributed to the Compassion-assisted families.
Josephat's eyes widened as he stared at his beaming mother that meant them! Josephat had been a member of the Deliverance Church Ongata Rongai Child Development Center for 10 years. He had always known the project would help him with school and vocational skills, but now it could literally save his family's life!
In the following weeks, nearly 1,000 families were aided by Compassion's relief efforts. Josephat and his family walked just a few miles from their home to collect their portion of rice and beans more food than they had known in months.
While all Compassion-assisted centers offer hot meals and nutritious snacks to registered children, droughts like the one in Kenya call for increased provisions. Compassion's Disaster Relief Fund provides food staples, including rice and beans, for affected children and their families.
"I am happy that Compassion helped us by giving us food," says Josephat. "Many times I did my homework on an empty stomach. Now, I can eat a meal and have energy to finish my work."
Releasing Children From Hunger
The drought in Kenya has devastated the region, and efforts made to meet the needs of even the Compassion-assisted children have been monumental. According to Benedict Omollo, Kenya's Country Director, Compassion has put together a strategy to train caregivers on food security and storage, as well as farming drought-resistant crops and effective livestock rearing.
Instead of leaving a trail of hungry children and hopeless parents, Compassion's famine relief efforts have released many children from the jaws of hunger in Kenya.
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