A Farm For The Kids

Deep in Kenya’s Rift Valley, a unique children’s home is cultivating faith, family, and plenty of food.

Joseph and Jane had a system for dividing up the most important family responsibilities. Jane cared for little Yvonne, and Joseph did his best to provide for them. This sounds fairly typical of many families, so why did their system catch the attention of the neighbors?

For one thing, Joseph was acquiring food for his little family by foraging, begging, or stealing. Also, he was about five years old. Jane, his older sister, was about seven and Yvonne was a toddler. These three little siblings were on their own. Surviving, but just barely.

The vision for Nipe Tumaini Children’s Home started to take shape even before Jane, Joseph, and Yvonne were born. When Benson Mungai started clearing bush land in Kenya’s Rift Valley years ago, it was with children like them in mind. He had grown up on a farm himself, and felt called to offer that experience to extremely vulnerable children who had nowhere else to go. He remembers swinging a machete in the hot sun, day after day, to a rhythm of for the kids, for the kids, for the kids.

Benson’s vision for a sustainable farm fit perfectly with the vision of Rice & Beans Month, and funds were directed to his project even before any children lived at the home. A drip irrigation system was purchased so that he could grow and store food in preparation for the children’s arrival. The first small group included Joseph, Jane, and Yvonne. They joined Benson and his wife, Eunice, at Nipe Tumaini in November of 2015. Benson describes the day they came as “the happiest day of my life.”

Because of their circumstances prior to Nipe Tumaini, Joseph had a habit of grabbing food quickly for himself and for his sisters, always afraid that there wouldn’t be enough. That fear subsided as day after day, month after month, there was farm-grown food to feed all the children as much as they wanted to eat. No longer worried about how to survive, Joseph and his sisters settled into a new family system where all they had to do was be kids.

Benson hasn’t stopped dreaming for the farm or the kids, and Rice & Beans Month continues to help bring those dreams to fruition. In 2017, Rice & Beans Month funded a significant upgrade to the farm’s drip irrigation system. Now Benson has his sights set on a 200,000-liter underground water tank and solar pump that will allow them to irrigate a much larger portion of their 10-acre plot of land. His goal is for the farm to be able to feed everyone at Nipe Tumaini, with surplus to sell in the nearby town and villages. Construction is underway on a second house that will become home for a new group of children and house parents.

Two years after his arrival at Nipe Tumaini, Joseph is now learning some farming basics from Benson. No longer begging for food, he is helping to grow it. He takes pride in being able to harvest fresh greens and feed the animals. Jane is developing some cooking skills in the kitchen, alongside Eunice. Little Yvonne, pictured below, is thrilled to attend Nipe Tumaini Academy with her sister and brother. All three are learning Bible lessons and loving life on the farm Benson planned for them and the other children.

The concept behind Rice & Beans Month is simple: eat inexpensive meals, and donate the money you save so it can be used to improve the diets of vulnerable kids. Those who embrace this idea are helping to remove the threat of hunger for Joseph, his sisters, and the hundreds of kids Lahash serves across East Africa. Not only that, Rice & Beans Month sends a powerful message to those who feel forgotten: There are people from all around the world who are willing to sacrifice, knowing it will make a difference for the kids, for the kids, for the kids.

Story by Jen Johnson
Photos by Will Campbell

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