There is a common perception that starvation is prevalent throughout Africa. On a recent Moja Tu trip to Kenya with my sons, we found that perception to be untrue. The vast majority of people in Kenya did have access to food but the real issue is one of malnutrition. The Tania Center, which is home to over 100 abandoned and orphaned children, has managed to augment grain purchases and by raising crops of potatoes, maize, and greens to feed the children on a regular basis. The traditional Kenyan dishes made from this limited variety of produce were delicious, but a diet with few to no proteins and limited nutritional value results in long-term effects like malnutrition, stunting and even delayed brain development.
The effects of stunting were visible amongst all of the Tania kids and even the teachers. I routinely mistook teenagers for 4th or 5th graders, and my own 15 and 17 year old sons towered over kids their own age, as well as the teachers. As a mother, Moja Tu board member and strong advocate for food security, I knew we could make a difference in the quality of the food available at Tania.
One of Moja Tu’s goals is to raise the nutritional bar by helping the Tania center expand their ability to grow and supply their own food in a way that delivers maximum nutritional value to the children and is sustainable long-term. Some of the actions to meet that goal include expanding the Tania gardens to include more nutritious vegetables (like amaranth), incorporating new gardening techniques to ensure appropriate crop rotation and increase yields, and, most importantly, introducing protein in the children’s regular diet by purchasing milk-producing cows and hens for eggs. Making these types of investments in the Tania infrastructure allows them to sell off extra produce, eggs and milk to generate revenue for reinvestment in the Tania food supply chain, reducing the need to make outside purchases of food.
We are actively raising funds this year to purchase 4 milk-producing cows, 200 chicks and chicken coops so the children can have milk and eggs in their diet. One of the fund raising initiatives includes our “Taste Of Thailand” dinner, which will be held on September 26th at Bertram’s. I hope you will join us at the table for an evening of great food, mingling with great people, and making a lasting positive impact on the lives of children in need.
Monica Sharp – Moja Tu Board Member