Rotarians help save street children

Members of two Lincolnshire Rotary Clubs banded together to help answer a call for help from Kenya.

Feeding street families in Kenya.

Rotarians from the Lindum Lincoln and Grantham Kesteven clubs led a fundraising appeal to help homeless families from the Meru area of Kenya.

For many years rain-fed agriculture has not provided the community a secure food supply and these communities face regular food shortage due to lack of rains and degradation of the land from tree felling and subsequent soil erosion. Typically, families have no piped water, no electricity, erratic food supply and the majority struggle to pay school fees.

The Rotary and other organisations have been working with the Meru community since 2011 with regular food and seed distributions, and then began providing water pans for the community to harvest water, and also building of irrigated school farms.

Hit by the pandemic, over 300 homeless children no longer had food due to the absence of discarded hotel and restaurant waste due to lockdown closures – as these hospitality businesses would normally be their normal source of food.

The number of locals living on the streets had increased by those arriving from the countryside, desperate due to parental abandonment and the crop destruction from locust attack.

Rotarian Caroline Newton of Rotary Club of Grantham Kesteven, said: "Through our work, we have become well connected with the Rotary Club of Meru, and back at the beginning of pandemic they alerted us to the challenges faced by street children living in Meru town.

"These children are typically fed by left overs from the towns restaurants and from wastage at local markets. Because of the pandemic neither of these sources of food were available."

The two Lincolnshire clubs led an appeal, which raised over £7,500 and allowed local Rotarians, volunteers and children from a local orphanage helping to provide a meal for these street children – at a cost of £90 for 300 meals.

These emergency measures over two months moved the local authority to step in, even putting 150 of the children into a youth service skills training programme.

Caroline said: "Because of the pandemic, the fund raising opportunities for all our Rotary clubs has been significantly reduced, but there is strength in numbers, and a good number of Rotary clubs, including one from Canada, joined in to make this project come to life.

"During the lockdown, Rotary clubs have been meeting via Zoom, but have still found innovative ways to continue to raise funds like running Zoom Murder Mystery nights and selling tickets to join, and running Zoom Race Nights.

"These events have been popular and the funds raised have helped the clubs to continue to support charities both local and abroad."