GRATITUDE FOR GOOD
A Blog by Gratitude Alliance
(Reposted from The Gracias Foundation, now called Global Gratitude Alliance)
Mama Maisha's first rule is that a child who eats well learns well – and education is the ticket out of poverty.
Several years ago, a generous grant allowed Maisha to purchase the large plot of land surrounding the house. The land now grows organic maize, banana and paw-paw trees, kale, sugar cane, and more.
Goats on the small farm provide fresh milk so kids can grow strong bones. The kids also help care for the goats and chickens, which occasionally serve as rich sources of protein and iron for healthy muscle and brain development, while providing lessons about the circle of life.
The kitchen doesn’t have a proper oven or stove - just a double camping-style hot plate which runs on propane. And, it’s too small to prepare daily meals for nearly 30 people. So, the aunties spend most of their days cooking fresh, nutritious food in a tiny, smoke-filled metal shack outside, using large pots over wood fires.
Everything is made from scratch and by hand. Stirring maize flour porridge in a large vat is hard work.
On our last day at Maisha, we made fresh chapatti (flat bread), spending half the day inside that smoky shack, kneading, rolling, and frying up over 70 pieces. My lungs were burning from the smoke.
Fortunately, Maisha just purchased a new wood-burning cooking system with a chimney to carry the smoke outside the shack, saving the aunties’ lungs from filtering decades more daily smoke. The stove can easily be transferred to the new Maisha home once it’s built.
So, the kids eat. A lot. Boiled kale, maize, beans and rice are daily staples. Kids pile their food high on their plates, “like mountains” as one of the Maisha boys explained.
And, all that eating is paying off: the Maisha kids regularly score in the top 10 of their classes at school, where class sizes can be as big as 80 students and quality of education remains high (Mama Maisha made sure to enroll them in the best public school in the area).
With goals to become Kenya’s future scientists, pilots, engineers, and journalists, the Maisha kids have bright futures ahead of them. And, there’s no doubt that they will get there, one meal at a time.