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Desert Bloom, Kenya

Desert Bloom takes care of orphaned children by providing lunch and ensuring school visits

Desert Bloom provides lunch and basic schools materials to poor orphaned and vulnerable children in Western Kenya and cover school fees for girls to ensure regular school visits.

How the initiative makes a difference

Founded in 2009, the “Desert Bloom Widows and Orphans” initiative ensures regular school visits of 150 poor, orphaned or otherwise vulnerable children living in the Obunga slums by providing a daily lunch and basic school supplies. The organizers of Desert Bloom identify especially needy orphans in the slums and run the kitchen that provides the daily school lunch. In addition, they support the children by providing supplies for basic hygiene as well as school uniforms, books, and related items. To ensure regular school visits, the organizers work closely with the teachers at the local school. Since the start of the program, absenteeism among participating pupils has dropped significantly and is now near zero.

How we engage

McKinsey for Children financed the setup of the kitchen starting in 2015 and is now contributing a large share of the running costs of providing lunch and school-related supplies for the pupils. After the first school year in 2015, which supported about 100 pupils, we have assisted Desert Bloom in scaling up the program to support about 150 pupils per year.

Why it matters

The Obunga slums in western Kenya have a population of about 25,000 people. The majority lives in deplorable conditions; the main source of their meagre income is selling fish parts (fish skins and bones) from Lake Victoria. HIV/AIDS has left many children with only one parent or completely orphaned; some children live with older siblings, guardians, or their very old grannies. They tend to get less care than children with parents and, as a result, many drop out of school before even finishing the primary grades in order to try to earn money to buy food.