KENYA/USA CHRISTIAN RELIEF & DEVELOPMENT, INC.

1.SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAM
Since the Year 2000, the Christian Community of St. Therese in Succasunna, New Jersey, has been supporting a Food & Nutrition Program in St. Cecilia Kituiuni; a Sister Parish in the Diocese of Machakos, Kenya. KENYA-USA CHRISTIAN RELIEF & DEVELOPMENT INC,(KUSARD, facilitates this relatioship. This small foundation had initially started the Food Program in Kenya but was struggling to keep it afloat and it was, while looking for a sponsorship, that the Founder, a Mr. Simon Maweu, met Mr. Joe Duffy, the Executive Director of the Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Paterson and explained the need. Joe was intrigued by the initiative and wanted to do something to further the good cause. He suggested that the Founder approach the Parish of St. Therese and speak to the then, Pastor of that Parish, Rev. Joseph Davis about the possibility of a twinning relationship between his Parish and that of St. Cecilia in Kenya where the said Program was located.

Through Rev. Davis, the Community of St. Therese embraced the concept and the path for the formation of a PARISH TO PARISH sisterhood was paved. To this end, following the blessings of Bishop Rodimer (Catholic Diocese of Paterson, USA) and Bishop Urbanus (Machakos Diocese, KENYA), the partnership of the two Parishes was hatched in 2000 and has since grown in robustiness and flourished over the years to this day, defying economic hard-times and even an unforeseable social upheavals.

One of the most important benefits that were almost immediate was the sponsorship of the Food & Nutrition Program. At the time, Kenya was experiencing an acute food shortage due to drought and crop failures year after year and the food insecurity continued to be a big problem in the country and especially in the drier areas like Machakos Diocese in the Eastern Province of the country. In a real sense, the program proved to be a life saver. Malnutrition was rampand in the area and the program helped improve the children's health dramatically.

When the program started it only served children at St. Cecilia School; about 100 of them, in the lower grades including those in Nursery school. But the Program has expanded due to the extend of the need in Kituiuni and its surrounding areas and today, more than 15 years later, it serves 20 schools and a home for the handicapped; altogether, a total of about 2,000 kids.

Since diet is so important in the development of a young child, KUSARD considers this program essential and a priority in its activities in Kenya. Many agree, the Program is crucial in trying to save the health of children in an area where malnutrition & kwashiorkor due to food inadequacy in prevalent.

The Program focuses on the most vulnerable age group i.e. nursery and grades 1-3 children. Some of the by products of the program that have been cited by the school authorities include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased School Enrollment
  • High Retention and Low Abseentism
  • General Wellness and Contentment amongst the children
  • The Food program assures hot healthful meals for the kids and it contains essential nutrients to improve their mental and physical growth.
  • The Meal Program also serves as an incentive for parents to send their children to school because they know they will eat well at school than at home, and this also frees them from not having to use their meager family resources, to prepare midday meals for their kids to bring to school. And for those children from extremely indigent families who would normally, not even afford to bring any kind of food to school, the program helps them not to feel left out when others have their meals. In this respect, the Program is like a leveler of sorts!
  • Moreover, in addition to the Program's benefits afore-mentioned, KUSARD sometimes uses schools and the school system as a delivery mechanism for some of its other types of services; e.g. the AIDS Campaign to propagate the message of avoiding contraction of the AIDS disease and other communicable diseases as well as addressing general community health matters.

KUSARD's Feeding Program started with only a couple scores of school kids but has now expanded to about 2,000 kids in the District of Kilungu, Mukaa and Makueni Districs in Kenya. We also try and reach out to kids in poverty stricken homes particularly orphans being cared for by their older siblings or by elderly grandparents. We serve kids of every faith backgrounds and we do not discriminate in any way, shape or form.

Food assistance is a very important intervention in children's lives and has very positive impact in the development and educational process of a child; Its real true long-term impact is realized many years in the future and we are very grateful to the Community of St. Therese, Succasunna and other individual partners for their unwavering commitment to the continuation of this noble cause.

"As a people, we value FAMILY, EDUCATION and SUCCESS; However, hunger is an enemy to all three! Scientific studies have demonstrated that even brief periods of hunger can permanently inhibit a child's mental, emotional and physical growth. Kids who are hungry do poorly in school; and are unlikely to grow into productive grownups. For families, experiencing hunger means living in a world of isolation and shame. Caring citizens of the world must put an end to this plight." Ted Danson.

I am profoundly grateful that, the community of St. Therese has remained in the forefront in this effort, year in year out, for so long.
May God Bless them and their families abundantly.

Simon.
KUSARD
(Executive Director)

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