In a significant stride toward fortifying community resilience in the face of the climate crisis, FCA Kenya’s Country Director, John Bongei, along with governors from key Arid and Semi-Arid (ASAL) counties and representatives of various humanitarian agencies, including the World Food Programme (WFP), the African Development Bank (AFDB), participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by The County Government of Garissa and UNICEF Kenya. This partnership endeavor aimed to explore strategies against the harsh impacts of climate change.

Some of the delegates who attended included Garissa Governor Nathif Jama, Rebecca Miano (Cabinet Secretary for the East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, and Regional Development), and Governors from neighboring counties, including Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, and Tana River. Additionally, Isiolo Deputy Governor Dr. James Lowasa and other esteemed representatives graced the occasion.

Our Country Director, John Bongei, having a candid discussion with Garissa Governor Nathif Jama and Marsabit Governor Mohammud Ali after a roundtable discussion in Garissa. PHOTO: DAISY OBARE / FCA
Our Country Director, John Bongei, having a candid discussion with Garissa Governor Nathif Jama and Marsabit Governor Mohammud Ali after a roundtable discussion in Garissa. PHOTO: DAISY OBARE / FCA

During this event, John Bongei engaged in a crucial dialogue with Garissa and Marsabit Governors. They emphasized the role of education and the need for diversified livelihood activities in the two counties to possibly include creative industries in addressing climate change. Education, they concurred, serves as a potent instrument for comprehending, adapting to, and mitigating the effects of our rapidly changing climate.

“Education empowers communities to make informed choices, adopt sustainable practices, and prepare effectively for the environmental challenges that lie ahead. It’s a cornerstone in our collective effort to combat climate change,” Bongei said.

A visit to FCA’s Disability-Friendly Toilets in Garissa School

Our Country Director, John Bongei, along with a UNICEF representative and the head teacher of Garissa, inspect the recently constructed disability-friendly latrine, funded by UNICEF Kenya and implemented by FCA Kenya. Additionally, water tanks have been installed at Garissa Primary School. PHOTO: DAISY OBARE / FCA
Our Country Director, John Bongei, along with a UNICEF representative and the head teacher of Garissa, inspect the recently constructed disability-friendly latrine, funded by UNICEF Kenya and implemented by FCA Kenya. Additionally, water tanks have been installed at Garissa Primary School. PHOTO: DAISY OBARE / FCA

The day began with a visit to Garissa Primary School, where the delegates had the opportunity to witness an inspiring enrollment drive for the Out-of-School Program. Notably, this initiative aimed to mainstream and integrate learners with disabilities alongside their peers without disabilities, exemplifying the commitment to inclusive education.

With funding support from UNICEF Kenya, FCA Kenya constructed disability-friendly latrines and installed a water tank to symbolize improved infrastructure and our commitment to equal opportunities for all.

“These facilities have been designed and equipped to cater to the unique needs of individuals with disabilities, fostering inclusivity and creating a world where everyone has equal opportunities,” said Bongei.

Garissa Governor Nathif Jama stressed, “Efficient water resource management is paramount for the well-being of our communities in this region. Water is life, and we must ensure its sustainable use and access for all.”

Rebecca Miano emphasized the need for constructing additional dams to enhance water storage and food security. She stated, “The construction of more dams is a step towards securing our water resources and ensuring a more sustainable water supply for our communities.

The partnership between FCA Kenya and UNICEF Kenya exemplifies their dedication to making a lasting impact on the communities they serve. Through partnerships, they aim to create a more inclusive society where no one is left behind.

Text: Daisy Obare


In a world where information flows abundantly and knowledge is accessible at our fingertips, a group of unsung heroes have dedicated their lives to shaping our minds and nurturing the seeds of literacy. On this International Literacy Day, we take some time to celebrate and appreciate the invaluable contribution of teachers around the world.

As we access a wealth of information with a few taps on a screen, it is easy to take for granted the ability to read and write. However, behind every literate individual stands a teacher who has played an indispensable role in their development. Many of us can trace some of our interests as adults to our earliest memories, which were formed in school. Stepping through the door of a classroom sparked curiosity and a sense of wonder in learning new concepts and ideas.

Nurturing Literacy from Early Childhood

Take a moment to remember your journey as a child learning to read. Don’t you have special memories with teachers who took time to patiently, although sometimes not very patiently, guide you through the complexity of language, helping you understand words, comprehend stories and kindling your desire to explore the written word?

While we may only remember a few teachers, who were exceptional and made a lasting impact on our lives, it’s critical to acknowledge that every teacher, whether in a bustling city or a remote village, is making a difference. Teachers consistently make sacrifices and invest their time, energy, and passion into moulding the minds of the next generation, even in the face of numerous challenges like limited resources and overcrowded classrooms.

Unwavering Commitment and Passion for Teaching

For instance, Ms. Samantha Mwangome, a teacher at Morningstar Primary School in Kalobeyei Settlement Scheme – Turkana County, expresses a longing for her family who are in Kilifi County.

“…….. the hard part is that I miss my family…, yes, I enjoy it here and I was welcomed well, but these are all strangers….”

Kilifi is a two-day journey from Turkana. While Samantha was excited about moving to Kalobeyei and is passionate about teaching and interacting with children, her passion does not come without a cost. A shared cost, borne by both her and her family, as she selflessly imparts knowledge and mentors children in Kalobeyei.

“I love working with children. They are so innocent and they are able to open up about their problems. As a teacher they trust you and believe in you. It makes you a role model and gives you a lot of responsibility”, says Samantha

Samantha Mwangome, teaching in class
Samantha Mwangome teaches Kiswahili to refugee learners in Kalobeyei Settlement.
Photo: Björn Udd / FCA

Samantha’s emotions resonate with the sentiments of many teachers across the country. Individuals who dedicate their time, often at the expense of their loved ones.

The Key to Empowering the Next Generation

Teachers are the key to empowering the next generation. This International Literacy Day gives us an opportunity to not only express our gratitude but to also recognize the urgent need for supporting teachers. To advocate for fair compensation, opportunities for professional development and provision of resources that empower them to excel in their roles. When teachers are empowered, they, in turn, empower their students, thus creating a positive cycle of learning and growth. These educators are indeed the backbone of our education journeys and serve as the light that illuminates our path to brighter futures.

As we celebrate International Literacy Day, we cannot forget role of teachers, the unsung heroes of literacy who have dedicated their time to nurture knowledge and wisdom. We invite you to support and partner with FCA Kenya to invest in a future where education continues to thrive and shine as a beacon of hope and progress.

Donate to:

Paybill: 4086125

Account Number: Your Mobile Number

Text: Faith Inyanchi

Empowering Communities Through Devolution: FCA Kenya’s Impact at the Devolution Conference

The annual Devolution Conference is a significant event that brings together key stakeholders, policymakers, practitioners, and communities to deliberate on matters of local governance, development, and empowerment. FCA Kenya was proud to be part of this year’s conference, which took place from August 15th to 19th, 2023, at the Eldoret Sports Club in Uasin Gishu County.

Under the theme of “10 Years of Devolution: The Present and the Future,” the conference provided a platform to reflect on the progress made in decentralization efforts and to strategize for the years ahead. FCA Kenya’s participation was marked by its vibrant exhibition stand located at booth numbers 90/91. The stand served as a hub for showcasing FCA’s impactful work, engaging with conference attendees, and fostering collaborations.

The FCA Kenya team seized the opportunity to engage with various stakeholders, including government officials, civil society organizations, development partners, and community members. The exhibition stand served as a platform to highlight FCA’s initiatives aimed at community development, empowerment, and positive change. Visitors had the chance to learn about FCA’s projects, interact with team members, and explore how FCA’s interventions align with the principles and goals of devolution.

A man standing in front of FCA exhibition stand having a conversation with a lady.
The Nairobi County Deputy Governor, H.E. Deputy Governor James Muchiri, visited the FCA exhibition stand and had a candid discussion with our fundraising officer, Faith Inyanchi, on the work of FCA and how we can strengthen our partnership. Photo: Daisy Obare / FCA

One of the most significant moments during the conference was the visit by H.E. Deputy President William Ruto, who took time to tour the exhibition stands. His visit to the FCA booth was a testament to the impactful work FCA is doing in various thematic areas, aligning with the conference’s focus on driving transformation from the local level.

A man standing talking to another man and a woman
Charles Apondu, FCA Kenya’s Peace Project Coordinator, passionately explaining the impactful work of FCA Kenya to eager participants. Photo: Daisy Obare / FCA

The conference provided an avenue for FCA Kenya to showcase its commitment to community empowerment, particularly in areas related to education, peace, livelihoods, creative industries, among others. The FCA team engaged in insightful discussions, knowledge-sharing, and networking sessions, contributing to the broader dialogue on devolution and its impact on local communities.

As the conference ended, FCA Kenya’s presence was felt beyond the exhibition stand. The interactions, connections, and insights gained will continue to shape FCA’s approach to community development and empowerment. FCA remains dedicated to contributing to the realization of devolution’s goals by ensuring that local communities are at the center of economic development and positive change.

The Devolution Conference 2023 was indeed a successful platform for FCA Kenya to showcase its commitment to fostering local development, empowering communities, and creating positive impact. As FCA continues its journey of transformation, the lessons and connections from this event will undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping the organization’s future endeavors.

Text; Daisy Obare

Empowering Youth: FCA Kenya’s Creative Industry Transformation

Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) Julieta Valls Noyes With Our Country Director John Bongei, FCA Kenya Chairperson Prof. William Ogara, FCA Kenya Finance Manager Hilda Mawanda and The Creative Industry Team from Jericho

In the bustling city of Nairobi, Kenya, a powerful movement is underway to empower the country’s youth and foster a thriving creative industry. At the forefront of this transformative endeavor is FCA Kenya, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities and opening doors for young talents seeking a pathway to success.

Led by the visionary Prof. William Ogara, FCA Kenya’s Chairperson, and the dynamic Country Director, Mr. John Bongei, the organization has set its sights on a bold mission: to unleash the creative potential of youth and pave the way for a brighter future.

L-R: FCA Kenya Chairperson Prof. William Ogara, Country Director John Bongei, and Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Julieta Valls Noyes having a chat. Photo Credit: Daisy Onkoba/FCA

Recently, FCA Kenya had the distinct honor of hosting a remarkable event that garnered attention and praise from all corners. The organization proudly welcomed Secretary of State Julieta Valls Noyes, a symbol of the strong partnership between Kenya and the United States. During Her visit, she witnessed firsthand the impactful work being done in the creative industry space by FCA Kenya.

Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Julieta Valls Noyes, addressing a FCA Kenya, shedding light on the crucial matters of creative industry. Photo Credit: Daisy Onkoba/FCA

During my visit to FCA Kenya, I was deeply inspired by the transformative work being done in the creative industry. It is a testament to the strong partnership between Kenya and the USA and the commitment to empowering youth and creating a brighter future for all,” said Assistant Secretary Julieta Valls Noyes, U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

“We firmly believe that the creative industry is a center for job creation,” emphasized Prof. William Otiende Ogara. “Our strategic plan focuses on providing job opportunities for young boys and girls who have not been able to secure traditional white-collar jobs. Through literacy skills enhancement in digital technology, animation, graphic design, and digital marketing, we equip our youth with transferable skills that are in high demand.”

FCA Kenya’s dedication to nurturing talent and honing skills is evident in the overwhelming response they received. Over 400 applications flooded in when opportunities were advertised, a testament to the demand for the skills being offered. With passion and commitment, FCA Kenya stands as a catalyst for economic growth, offering newfound prospects for developing countries to diversify their economies and embrace high-growth sectors.

“The creative industry employs more young people than any other sector,” John Bongei explained. “It’s resilience during global economic crises makes it an essential pillar for socio-economic growth. Many youths are awake when the USA is asleep, leveraging their skills to earn a living. Our programs open doors for them to thrive and contribute to the industry.”

FCA Kenya’s strategic focus on the creative industry encompasses various sectors, including film, TV, music, radio, and design. By nurturing skills like creativity, entrepreneurship, and digital proficiency, the organization empowers youth to tap into this burgeoning sector’s immense potential.

“The creative entrepreneur component of our programs strengthens students’ knowledge, skills, and motivation,” John Bongei continued. “We prepare them for the demands of the creative industry and introduce them to future working life. Identifying and developing their strengths empowers them to embark on successful careers.”

The partnership between FCA Kenya and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) plays a pivotal role in making this creative revolution possible. PRM’s support enabled the establishment of a studio for developing photos, a milestone that propels FCA Kenya’s vision forward.

Peter Nguguna, Creative Industry Trainer doing the presentation during the KECO event. Photo Credit: Daisy Onkoba/FCA

Looking ahead, FCA Kenya is committed to further expanding its Creative Industry Training Youth program at Jericho and Kalobei Kakuma refugee camp. With an upcoming mentorship and incubator hub, the organization will connect industry professionals with students, providing internship opportunities and invaluable guidance.

“The creative industry is a beacon of hope, offering endless opportunities for growth and innovation,” Prof. William Ogara emphasized. “At FCA Kenya, we are nurturing talents and shaping a brighter future for the youth and the creative sector as a whole.”

As FCA Kenya continues its journey, it remains steadfast in creating a dynamic and sustainable creative industry, transforming the lives of Kenya’s youth, and shaping a promising future for generations to come. The organization’s dedication to fostering a vibrant creative community is not only changing lives but also creating a ripple effect that will be felt for years to come.

Text; Daisy Obare

A Journey of Hope and Resilience: Empowering Refugees through Education

In a world where displacement and adversity often overshadow the dreams of many, Finn Church Aid Kenya (FCA) is dedicated to empowering refugees through the transformative power of education. As we reflect on the indomitable spirit of displaced individuals on World Refugee Day, let us explore the initiatives undertaken by FCA, shedding light on our ongoing commitment to support and uplift refugees through education.

Unleashing the Potential of Education

At the heart of FCA’s mission lies a profound belief in the inherent power of education. By advocating for the right to quality education, peace, and livelihood, FCA played a pivotal role in transforming the lives of refugees. Through strategic partnerships with esteemed organizations such as UNHCR, UNICEF, PRM, and the Kenyan government, FCA spearheaded educational initiatives within the Kalobeyei and Kakuma refugee camps.

Building Foundations for a Better Future

FCA’s commitment to education goes beyond the construction of schools; it signifies the creation of safe havens where dreams can flourish. Ahmed Shale, the senior Education Specialist at FCA, explained, “Through the establishment of six primary schools, two secondary schools, and eight pre-primary schools, FCA provided not only access to education but also nurtured an environment where children could dream, explore their passions, and envision a brighter future.” Each year, approximately 20,000 children were enrolled in these schools, reflecting FCA’s dedication to reaching every corner of the camps and empowering young minds.

Empowering Lives, Celebrating Diversity

Students during a Swahili lesson at Morning Star Primary School in Kakuma-Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement. Most students view education as very important for their future.

Students sitting at desk in a classroom
Students during a Swahili lesson at Morning Star Primary School in Kakuma-Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement. Most students view education as very important for their future. Photo Credit: Björn Udd/FCA

For FCA, education is a catalyst for empowerment that knows no boundaries. Ahmed Shale affirms, “Education holds the transformative power to unlock the full potential of individuals affected by displacement.” FCA goes above and beyond by actively advocating for and supporting children with disabilities, fostering an inclusive environment that celebrates the unique talents of every child. Through this inclusive approach, FCA cultivates a society where each individual, irrespective of their circumstances, can flourish and contribute meaningfully to their community.

Collaboration for Sustainable Change

Collaboration lies at the heart of FCA’s approach. By actively engaging with implementing donors such as UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, and the Ministry of Education, as well as partners like LWF, Window Trust Kenya, the DRC, FilmAid, and Peace Wing Japan, FCA ensures a collective effort in sharing experiences, learning from one another, and promoting effective coordination. “Through collaboration and coordination,” says Ahmed Shale, “we amplify the voices and concerns of refugees, ensuring their rights are protected and their perspectives are integrated into decision-making processes.” This collaborative approach paves the way for sustainable change, fostering a future filled with opportunities for all.

Looking Toward a Brighter Future

As we move forward, let us renew our commitment to empowering refugees through education. While challenges such as limited resources, overcrowding, and policy limitations persist, FCA remains steadfast in leaving no displaced individual behind. With continued support from dedicated donors and stakeholders, FCA strives to expand the reach of education, create inclusive learning environments, and break down the barriers that hinder refugees from unlocking their full potential. Together, we can build a brighter future for all.

Text; Daisy Obare

Choose to Challenge.

Recognizing the Strength and Resilience of Women Everywhere

International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women around the world. It’s a day to recognize the progress that has been made toward gender equality, but also to acknowledge that there is still much work to be done. We have been at the forefront of empowering women.

We have been working to improve the economic status of women through FCA Kenya’s and Women’s Bank’s project in partnership with Taka Taka Solutions, a waste management company, to create jobs and enhance skills as part of women’s economic empowerment where we get to hear the story of Jesca Namyokia Naswa Marofu.

“Previously, I had been trained as an agricultural worker. I worked on coffee and dairy farms, but I only got daily casual jobs. Two years ago, I started working at Taka Taka Solutions, sorting plastics. Then I saw an advert where they were looking for a lady who could drive a forklift. I already knew how to do it but needed to refresh my skills. I applied and was chosen and accepted to attend this course.

I’m so excited that I was chosen to train to be a forklift machine operator.

I wouldn’t have had the possibility to attend this course if I wasn’t supported by FCA Kenya and Women’s Bank.

Now that I have been given this chance, I feel my life will change, and I will have the possibility to pay my rent, feed my kids and let them go to school”, Says Jessica.

We believe that every woman and girl has the right to live a life free from discrimination, violence, and poverty. By supporting us, you can help in making this a reality for more women and girls in Kenya.

This International Women’s Day, let us all choose to challenge gender bias and inequality and take action to support women and girls in Kenya.

Join us by donating today.

M-Pesa Paybill: 4086125
Account Number: Your mobile number
Account Name: Finn Church Aid Kenya

Your help matters. Your donation counts.



A DRIVE THROUGH GARISSA TOWN deep into Lagdera and Balambala engulfs you in a sense of despondency. Acres of land filled with nothing but dying shrubs and dried dams stretch beyond what the eye can see. As the wind blows, giving you a reprieve from the heat and scorching sun, it carries with it a blanket of dust and sand. A clear indication of how bad the drought has become.

The villages are littered with rotten carcasses and dried bones from animals that used to reflect a community’s identity. Homesteads that were once full of life, have been reduced to chunks of bare land and abandoned makeshift homes. Families that once sat together for a meal are missing a father. The men have been forced to leave their families behind, seeking pasture to save the remaining animals.

This is the reality of life for thousands of people living in communities across Northern Kenya. Desperation has slowly crept in as they struggle to survive and hold on to hope, for a future that seems so bleak.
“We have not seen a drop of rain, in two years,” says Ebla Ali, who has lived in Balambala for 15 years. “We have never experienced anything like this, our animals have died and even water for drinking has become difficult to get.”

Her children no longer go to school in the afternoon as they have to fetch water from a lager in a dried riverbed close to her home. She wants them to study and to attend school, but the choice is bleak: survival today or her children’s future. “We have to choose between school or dying from lack of water.”

Ebla’s story is not unique, she represents thousands of women living in Garissa who are forced to make the same heartbreaking decision every day. How does a mother give hope to her children, when she has just watched the last of their goats succumb to starvation?

Ebla may have run out of hope, but she and many mothers across Northern Kenya remain resilient. A little boost has sparked their hope and is helping them navigate this difficult time.

Over the past few months, FCA Kenya has supported over 600 homesteads in Garissa and Marsabit County through cash transfers of 63 euros, equivalent to about KES. 7,600 – 7,800. This has enabled families to buy food, water, and some, school supplies for their children. The first cycle ran from May to July of 2022, and the second cycle in August, expected to run until the end of the year.
To ease the communities water storage problem, we mobilized individual Kenyans and local corporations, through our local fundraising initiative #TogetherforGarissa to support the distribution of water storage equipment to households. We partnered with UNICEF, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa and a few Kenyans of goodwill who have supported us to distribute over 5,600 20-litre jerrycans and 3,600 buckets to families in Garissa and Marsabit County.

Women fetching water from a makeshift shallow well. Photo by Kevin Ochieng

While the jerrycans ensure the communities can store clean water for drinking and household use, there’s a need to distribute water tanks to ensure the water is accessed hygienically.

The power of ubuntu cannot be overemphasized. Every support, no matter how small, is invaluable. It has taken concerted effort and support from Kenyans of goodwill for us to reach over 70,000 lives. Imagine how much more could be done if each of us gave a little.

When we support, we are not only giving access to water, but we are also giving drops of hope that are restoring the dignity and livelihood of communities. We are transforming the lives of a generation that needs to be in school, to find the means of breaking the cycle of poverty that plagues their environment.

Hopefully, the coming of the short rains signifies a new dawn and the end of the drought. That it washes away the dry bones, prepares the ground to nurture new life, and restores laughter in the homesteads.

Until then, please help us reach 100,000 people by donating to:

M-pesa Paybill:4086125

Account Name: Finn Church Aid Kenya

Your help matters. Your donation counts.

Text: Faith Inyanchi

FCA Kenya responds to drought in Garissa through emergency cash transfer

Family pose for photographer in Garissa, Kenya.
Fatuma Garane is a widow and lives in Balambala, Garissa County, in Kenya. She has eight children. “This drought has affected my family greatly. I had goats and a donkey, and they died because of the lack of food. The donkey was the one that was my only source of income as I used to do business with it. I cannot say that I take a meal twice or once a day as it is not easy to get food here, so we only eat when we get the food. There are days we go without eating. Life is tough here. Sometimes the food we get here is rice and beans.” PHOTO: BRIAN OTIENO/FCA

Wells, water pans, and rivers are drying up in Garissa County. Many homesteads are without food and livelihood-providing livestock. Cattle have either died in the protracted drought or migrated away with household heads in search of pasture.

GARISSA HAS lost 40% of its livestock with families finding it difficult to survive as they lose their main source of income. The market for livestock paints the same gloomy picture, with goats being sold for as low as Kes 2000 due to the poor condition of the animals and generally depressed markets .  Pastoralists are losing their main source of livelihoods.

“Here, people and animals fight to survive in the face of this year’s particularly vicious food and water crisis. Not only is there a scarcity of food and water produced, but people also don’t have money to buy it,” said Fatuma Garane, a resident of Mbalambala, who was visited by the FCA Kenya team.

“We are glad that the money we received from FCA Kenya is helping us buy water and some food though food is costly,” says Fatuma.

A truck.
A water truck bringing relief in the form of fresh drinking water in Garissa. PHOTO: ALEXON MWASI/FCA

In April 2022, Finn Church Aid (FCA) granted Kes 24,600,000 for a humanitarian relief operation in Kenya and Somalia. Since then, FCA Kenya has provided cash transfers to 350 households in Lagdrera Sub-County and 250 households in Balambala Sub-County to enable families to buy water and food and cater to their children’s education needs. In addition, they’re able toreconstruct their houses, buy goats to restock, and pay their medical fees. Each household has received Kes 15480, transferred in two installments to the right holders’ MPESA number

“No water means no food”

Mohamed Korone, a Maalimin resident, described the effects of the drought,

“Everything in Lagdera and Balambala revolves around water. No water means no food. No food means people are weak and cannot work. Children also cannot go to school when parents do not have a source of livelihood and also suffer malnutrition. Animals cannot survive without water”. 

Dead cow lies on the ground.
The severe drought kills cattle which means loss of livelihood for people too in Garissa.

FCA Kenya has already put in place short-term measures to address this crisis, such as giving unconditional cash to families. This will assist in purchasing some household needs and reviving local markets.  This is only temporary, as Garissa residents walk an average of 8.3 kilometres in search of water. They sometimes buy water for Kes 15-40, whereas other rural communities buy water for Kes 5.

FCA post-distribution monitoring for the first cycle of the multipurpose cash assistance in May 2022 revealed that 13% of the recipients spent Kes 2207 on water, accounting for 28.25% of the monthly multipurpose cash assistance. Food was the most pressing need, accounting for Kes 4413 for 80 percent of the households supported. The 600 most vulnerable households will receive the final tranche of cash assistance in July 2022 to help further mitigate the effects of the drought, which is predicted to further worsen.

Text: Elizabeth Oriedi

Free school meals mean better grades for refugees in Kenya

A young Kenyan boy sits at a desk in a classroom.
Phillip Loturi John was the highest scoring student in all of FCA’s schools in Kenya. Photo: Elizabeth Oriedi/FCA

Daily meals provided to refugee students in Kenya help them to excel.

PHILLIP LOTURI JOHN wants to become President of South Sudan. The 15-year-old is a student at Morning Star Primary School, one of the six schools that Finn Church Aid (FCA) operates in Kalobeyei, northern Kenya. Philip scored 391 on his Kenya Certificate for Primary Education (KCPE), making him the best overall student at any of FCA’s schools in Kalobeyei.

Located in the Turkana region, an arid area that suffers frequent drought, local people live together with refugees in Kalobeyei. While the Turkana people are traditionally pastoralists, they struggle with the arid climate and this is one of the reasons why FCA provides daily meals of maize and beans to refugees and Turkana students, with support from the World Food Programme (WFP).

Two Kenyan children sit on the floor of a classroom
Children sit on the floor in a classroom of Future Bright Primary School in Kalobeyei, Kenya. Around 3,000 children attend the school in classes that have over one hundred students. Photo: Antti Yrjönen/FCA

Phillip wants to become the President of South Sudan so that he can help other children, like himself, get an education. “Being a refugee, I would love to see all children acquire education,” he says. His best subject is Social Studies because he believes it will ‘mould him into a good leader’.

Along with his parents, John Lomeri and Monica Epii, and his five siblings, Philip came to Kenya in 2016 when conflict escalated in South Sudan. They fled and found their way to Kenya where they were registered by UNHCR and settled in Kalobeyei.

WFP’s school feeding programme provides hot meals to all of the 21,000 children at FCA’s schools in Kalobeyei. The meals help to increase enrolment by encouraging parents to send their children to school as Phillip’s mother can testify. I am glad that my children get education, but they are also offered meals,” she says.

Kenyan children hold bowls of food
A girl from the Turkhana tribe holds her lunch which is served during a school meals program sat at school in Kalobeyei, Kenya. Kalobeyei is a settlement where refugees live alongside each other and face similar issues such as food, water and education shortages. FCA supports five primary schools in this area. Photo: Antti Yrjönen/FCA

Phillip is happy that he doesn’t have to try and learn on an empty stomach. “We can concentrate in school because we are not hungry. I performed well because I was never hungry,” he says, appreciating the contribution that WFP makes.

“When we go home in the evening, we often don’t find our parents because they either went to work or do business,” he says. “So, since we had meals in school, we end up revising or doing remedial classes with our teachers after 4 pm.”

Phillip’s high grades are not so unusual – the link between school meals and scholastic performance is proven. Providing school meals consistently increases school enrollment and attendance. “We have been able to keep learners in schools because of the free meals. School meal plays an important and is a motivating factor for the learners and for parents to enroll children,” said Antony Zenga, the headteacher of the Morning Star Primary. FCA Kenya schools are registered as public schools by the Ministry of Education in Kenya, thus qualifying them to be government schools where children from the local community and refugees can attend.

The Secretary of Education in Kenya, George Magoha, announced on 10 April 2022 that all students who scored over 380 for their KCPE can attend national schools. Six students from schools in Kalobeyei are eligible to enroll this year and, as one of those students, Phillip is one step closer to becoming President of South Sudan.

Text: Elizabeth Oriedi

Honey sweetens the lives of Pokot women

The Barpello women’s group in Baringo county. Photo: Rose Kosgei

Women are breaking stereotypes and treading into male-dominated realms in Kenya. They have proved that what men can do, they can do better, breaking the bias that some jobs are only meant for men.  

BEEKEEPING and  honey-processing, has always been considered men’s work in the Pokot tribe and women were considered weak in this society. Women had no voice in public forums and no authority within the home. She was considered “foolish”, like the cows for which she was traded for, says Chief Irene Kiplagat.  

March 8th is International Women’s Day and, as we celebrate inspiring women, Barpello women in Baringo County chose to take the road less travelled on their entrepreneurship journey with the support of FCA Kenya and the leadership of Chief Irene Kiplagat. Since 2018, FCA Kenya has supported the Barpello women’s group which has 25 women, the majority of whom only completed class eight. 

Chief Irene Kiplagat (at right) with members of the Barpello women’s group and the honey that they sell. Photo: Rose Kosgei

Barpello women source raw honey from farmers in the area and they sell it locally. “We source the honey at Sh500 per kilo and sell at Sh 800. In a day, we can sell over 200 kilograms depending on the season,” says Kiplagat. She says they prefer buying raw honey to keeping bees due to the time and labour demands of honey harvesting. 

Chepmarich Kakales from the Barpello women’s group with some of the honey that they sell. Photo: Rose Kosgei

“Beekeeping is not only time consuming, but also demanding. It needs dedication and monitoring to make bees feel comfortable in that environment and keep off honey thieves. We prefer buying raw honey as they only need to package and sell,” she says. 

Selling honey is a sweet business that transforms the lives of these women as there is a high demand for honey in Kenya. “We have seen the lives of women and children being transformed just because of the sale of honey. Some of the women lacked food and could not pay school fees for the children but now they can,” says Kiplagat. 

Before venturing into the honey business, most women were only housewives who depending on their husbands. “As a women’s group, we give each other loans and develop our homesteads. We save the profits from honey sales. We have a savings book from the honey business and a bank account,” Kiplagat says. 

Kiplagat says that the Barpello Women are skilled multi-taskers because they take care of numerous chores at home and while also working as businesswomen. With financial support from the FCA Kenya the women have also become peacebuilders. 

“Conflict resolution training has helped us keep peace in our homes and our location. We attend peace meetings and engage in peace dialogues. Imagine me as a woman talking to the village elders about how we can leave and coexist as humans given the fact that our culture does not allow women to address men,” says Kiplagat. 

Barpello Women group have continued to break stereotypes and boundaries. They are acknowledged, appreciated, and admired for their new roles as entrepreneurs and leaders. In 2019 Kiplagat received an award from the Baringo county government recognising her as a leader in Anti-Female Genital Mutilation and Development.  

Today, when society and businesses are still male-dominated, a growing number of ladies are becoming businesswomen. “Entrepreneurship is not a cakewalk. One must be stubborn, strong-hearted, and enduring to keep your head high even when they nag at you,” Kiplagat says. 

Text: Elizabeth Oriedi