The town of Kisii is only about 47 miles from the equator (0.68º N). Because this seems like it should be a tropical climate, it appears strange to many people that one of the needs of the orphanage is blankets. We northerners have a general perception that the equatorial zones have only two seasons: hot and hotter. But it is amazing what a little elevation in altitude can do.
Kisii town has an elevation of 5558 feet. This altitude modifies the temperature considerably throughout the year. The daily highs remain mostly in the 70’s, with the 50’s at night. It does seem quite ideal, except when there is the wind from a storm system, you are in wet clothing under a thin wet blanket sleeping on a wet dirt floor, and you have had nearly nothing to eat all day.
One of these difficulties was that they did not have more than one set of clothes so that they could put on something dry (some of the smaller children had no clothing at all). Another difficulty was that many of them had to sleep on a wet floor, and since the floor is dirt, the wetness could almost be defined as mud. A third difficulty was that they had inadequate covering at night to try and stay warm.
These difficulties compounded to create very stressful physical living conditions. Constantly staying wet and cold at night kept everyone from receiving adequate rest, preventing the children to be able to fight off sickness.
Oh, there is one more difficulty I should mention that compounds this problem. This is that the availability of food has become very difficult because of flooding and ruined crops. The food that has been available has been very expensive. In the last Kisii Report I gave an example of an increase of about 34%, but Joel tells me now that many vegetables (their primary diet) have doubled in price.
Sleeping on the dirt floors have also exposed the children to a number of illnesses, soil born parasites among them. However, perhaps the most dangerous problem from sleeping in this way is the exposure to fecal matter that has been brought in on the shoes of the children, or on their bare feet. It almost impossible to sterilize the soil, and this causes much diarrhea, which is actually the leading killer of children in third world countries.
Of course good sanitation would help, but keeping good sanitation in such an environment with inadequate facilities becomes nearly impossible. You can see that there are many needs at the orphanage, adequate buildings and also latrines among them.
All of these things together has created a “perfect storm,” when the weakened bodies of these children are unable to fight off illness. I was also going to write a little about the malaria situation at the present, but I will wait on that for another time.
We have been very grateful for several gifts from readers of
this blog so that the workers of the orphanage were able to buy good amounts of
food. They had to travel quite far to find it, but as you can see in the photo,
they came home in a hired car with some full shopping bags!
|Those ain't plastic store bags!|
The orphanage has been in emergency mode as of late because of the weather conditions and the food shortage. We are praying that we can move beyond that now and resume gathering building materials for a sleeping room for the girl orphans. It is my prayer that we can get it built before next rainy season.
More about that next time.