Holistic Care Starts In The Kitchen

Every Saturday, the small kitchen building outside a church in rural Tanzania seems to come alive.

While the Lahash sponsored kids engage in their weekly program day activities, a team of volunteers is hard at work preparing their afternoon meal. Soon excited children stream out from the church to wash hands and line up for heaping plates of rice, beans, meat stew, greens, and fruit. This nutrition-packed menu is organized by Agnes Samuel (the mama pictured below in blue), the official “leader of the cooks.” She knows all too well the impact of hunger on children in the village, including her own. They were among the very first kids to be enrolled at Path Of Hope’s Mwamalili location when it opened ten years ago.

Lahash funded the building of this busy kitchen because food insecurity is one of the biggest hardships families face in rural northern Tanzania. Even when rainfall is favorable and harvests are good, there is still only one growing season. For subsistence level farmers it is nearly impossible to stretch food supplies for a whole year. The months from October to February are known locally as “hunger season,” and the kids face a dramatic decrease in food supplies. Through Rice & Beans Month, the Lahash community has made a huge impact over the years in combatting the effects of hunger season, especially for kids like Rahel and Jafari who receive extra food to bring home each month in addition to the program day meals.

Rahel has a genetic condition called sickle cell anemia which causes fatigue, pain, frequent infections, and delayed growth. These symptoms are all worsened by low nutrition, so each month she receives packets of nutritious high-calorie food (pictured above) to help supplement what she eats at home. Improving her diet is key for Rahel to stay healthy, maintain good school attendance, and complete her daily tasks.

Jafari (sitting on the right in the picture above) lost both his parents and now stays with his sister, and he lives with HIV. There are medications available that allow HIV-positive kids to live full and healthy lives, but they must be taken with food or they cause severe discomfort. Kids with HIV also need more protein than average in order to grow well, so extra food is critical to Jafari’s overall health. The big meals he eats at Program Day are a highlight of the week!

Helping kids like Rahel and Jafari is what motivates Agnes and the other Path Of Hope mothers to help in the kitchen week after week. Agnes sees it as “serving God through cooking.” Her love of cooking comes from her love for God, and she sees the kids’ physical and spiritual development as completely intertwined. She’s the leader of the cooks and also the spiritual leader of another small church in the village, so she knows the transformative power of discipling kids in the good news of the gospel. However, when asked to describe the transformative results of the partnership between Path Of Hope and Lahash, she lists beds, solar lamps, school uniforms, and high quality food. From her perspective, meeting the practical needs of kids is what has shifted the attitudes of local families and opened their hearts to God. “Before, we were in the dark,” Agnes explained. “But now we are in the light seeing many things we did not see before.”

Lahash sponsored kids gather for prayer and worship at the church building in Mwamalili village.

The impact of Rice & Beans Month is making a difference for kids and families all across East Africa.! As you celebrate the transformation that is taking place, please consider joining Agnes by giving to support the kids’ physical health and nourishment, so they can thrive in all areas of life!

Click here to donate today!