Pots arrive'Thanks to Porridge and Rice who will provide porridge for 170 Children at Compassion CBO Children Centre. Cooking pans and a jiko to start the programme arrived New Year's Day,' - Evanson Njeru, founder of Compassion CBO.

By Becky Gourde

Compassion CBO, a Safe World Field Partner, has announced plans to launch a new breakfast feeding programme for the children who attend its primary school in Nairobi, Kenya.

The programme has been made possible by the UK and Kenya-based organisation, Porridge and Rice, which raised the funds needed to cover costs for the programme.

Ending the Cycle of Poverty in Nairobi Slums

Compassion schoolCompassion CBO assists roughly 300 orphans and vulnerable children from the slums of Nairobi through its children centres. Without aid from Compassion CBO, many of the children would go days between meals and would be unable to afford the costs of schooling.

In addition to its children centres, Compassion CBO engages in a number of programmes to bring women and children out of economical and social poverty, including access to clean water, campaigns against female genital mutilation (FGM), training in income-generating activities, and support for those living with HIV/AIDS.

Seeing a Dream Become Reality

Scheduled to begin in January 2016, the breakfast programme will initially serve around 170 students, although that number is expected to climb quickly after implementation.

Establishing a breakfast programme had been a goal for Compassion CBO organisers for the past 10 years. "Many children stay out of school due to hunger. They wake up to look for plastics and metallic rods to go sell them to buy food for themselves. Others go to scavenge for food in Runda Estate dust pins," said Evanson Njeru, founder and head teacher of Compassion CBO.

Prior to this programme, they only had the capacity to cook sweet potatoes for a few children each day. With support from Porridge and Rice, Compassion CBO will be able to provide the children with uji and fruit on a daily basis. When Compassion CBO learned that the breakfast programme was coming to life. "The staff jubilated," recalled Mr Njeru.

Connecting with partner organisations for mutual benefit

The breakfast programme is the latest result of the partnership between the two organisations. They first came into contact through Safe World for Women: Compassion CBO and Porridge and Rice are both members of the Alliance for a Safe World, our networking and resource centre that brings together organisations and groups around the world with a focus on inequality, poverty, and injustice.

Because Porridge and Rice's aim is to improve the education and learning environments provided by community schools in the slums of Nairobi, the two organisations saw substantial opportunities for collaboration. After communicating remotely, the founder of Porridge and Rice, Ken Surridge, visited Compassion CBO in person while traveling to Nairobi in July of 2015.

The meeting inspired the organisations to enter a formal partnership, with Compassion CBO becoming one of Porridge and Rice's five partner schools. As a partner school, Compassion CBO benefits from training, management, and resources provided by Porridge and Rice in order to remove barriers to education.

Sharing Expertise to Achieve Common Goals

Mr Njeru of Compassion CBO is now a member of the Kenyan leadership team for Porridge and Rice. Compassion CBO staff have already shared their best practices in urban farming with members of Porridge and Rice, who can apply this knowledge to its other partner schools.

As explained by Mr Surridge, "Long-term sustainability of Porridge and Rice programs is important to the charity. Urban farming is an important way of securing food supplies for Porridge and Rice schools. Compassion CBO, the latest member of the team, has a great deal of knowledge in urban farming and will be able to help the entire team achieve its sustainability goals."

Mr Njeru is leading the efforts on urban farming in all of the Porridge and Rice partner schools, and Compassion CBO has also begun conducting anti-FGM seminars in three of the schools.

Looking ahead: the future of the breakfast programme

Although Porridge and Rice is assisting with many of the initial costs for the breakfast programme, additional funds will be needed to expand the programme and to strengthen its sustainability.

Supplies of cooking fuel, plates, and eating utensils are some of the items that Compassion CBO is hoping to purchase with the receipt of new donations. Since they are currently cooking and serving the food out of a classroom, Compassion CBO would also like to raise construction costs for a true kitchen, which would increase the programme's capacity and safety.

The programme will begin with resources to feed 170 children, but Compassion CBO estimates that there is a need to provide food for double that number. Their ability to increase the number of students they can feed promptly will depend on the generosity of their supporters and donors.

Moving forward, Compassion CBO is focusing on income-generating activities that can reduce the cost of feeding programs and expand their reach to even more vulnerable children in Nairobi.