VICDA and Global Volunteer Network, GVN, have worked together for nearly a decade with the common goal of feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and giving hope and a home to the homeless of Kenya. GVN’s volunteer program regularly sends new volunteers to Kenya to work in various projects and the GVN Foundation has fundraised for and donated generous funds to VICDA’s many projects.
Each year GVN Foundation’s global fundraiser, Eat So They Can, asks people from around the world to host a dinner party in order to raise money for those who are struggling, primarily children. The funds are then distributed to GVN’s many projects, primarily in South America, Southeast Asia and East Africa. As GVN’s Kenya partner, VICDA projects have benefited directly from these funds and donations.
Ushirika Clinic is a community health center, located in the Kibera slum in Nairobi. Ushirika is a relatively small clinic that serves a vast population and they are more often than not short of supplies and medicines needed to treat their many patients. VICDA has sent GVN volunteers to Ushirika since 2006 and GVN Foundation’s recent donation of medical supplies and medicines will be of great assistance to the Kiberan community, literally hundreds of thousands of people.
This past year, GVN Foundation has taken a great interest in VICDA’s Spirulina program. Spirulina is a nutrient rich algae that can be mixed into foods or taken as a capsule and VICDA has established Spirulina “farms” to grow the algae as well as implemented feeding programs for HIV patients and children in particular to benefit from the protein, vitamins and other nutrients found in this “super food.”
Water is a resource that is hard to come by in much of sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in rural areas. Maasailand is especially known for being arid and Maasai women oftentimes need to walk up to 6 hours a day, just to collect 20 L of water and carry it back to the camp. This is oftentimes the reason given for pulling Maasai girls out of school at an early age, so they can assist in the water collection for the family. By providing a new water tank, GVN isn’t only giving water to the community but they are giving back valuable years of education for young Maasai girls. GVN Foundation is assisting an area of Maasailand called Olshoboor, at a schooled called Ronesa School.
Over the past several months VICDA has continued to work with different communities to introduce Spirulina, a protein and nutrient rich “power food” which is derived from an algae like plant. With its location on the equator and the strong sun, Kenya is an ideal place to grow spirulina. Unlike other crops, it doesn’t require that much land and though it’s grown in water troughs it require significantly less than water than most other crops.
In addition to providing nutrition to hungry children, spirulina has also show to improve the lives of those living with HIV. Kifia Health Group is a part of Kieni Fighters of HIV/AIDS and TB in Nyeri, Kenya. VICDA has partnered with this group of 52 adults and 6 children and has helped to introduce spirulina to the group and has seen a positive improvement in the quality of life for several of the members. As noted by Kifia Health Group:
POLINE NJERI:Njeri was suffering from severe skin rashes which had lasted for 2 years, after using the Spirulina in 2 months the rashes disappeared. She is now very happy for she used to feel disgusted and ashamed. She also has a very good appetite and gained weight. She says that she feels very healthy and strong to start her day.
CHARITY MURINGO: Charity is HIV positive and Diabetics, from she started the spirulina product she has managed her sugar level and gained weight, she used to feel dizziness and sick but now she is strong and healthy. Her CD4 has increased in 2 months from 506 to 536.
CRISTOPHER KARIUKI: Kariuki is now strong and feels active. His skin is also smooth and looking good with good appetite. He used to feel general weakness in his body. His skin was pale and dry and poor appetite. But from when he started the Spirulina product he has changed his way of living due to the strong feeling in him.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is grown in shallow water and offers numerous nutritional benefits. Since May one of VICDA’s projects has been growing and harvesting this algae in order to help deliver sustainable nutrition to children in VICDA’s many projects. Through this project, VICDA hopes to assist up to 50,000 people this year.
Quick facts about spirulina:
Spirulina possesses nutritional qualities of both plant and animal proteins but lacks cellulose so it is easily assimilated into the body.
Fresh spirulina contains the most protein of any substance known to man – 20 times more than beef, 20 times more than soy and 40 times more than corn.
When harvested spirulina is like a green paste and can either be consumed that way or can be dried and consumed in capsules.
Spirulina consumed 5-6 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare and emits over 16 tons of oxygen annually. It also doesn’t require soil to grow, making it an ideal crop for communities with limited resources and increased population.
Though spirulina requires water to grow, it uses significantly less water than other crops and once the harvested the water can be collected and reused.
VICDA is very excited about this new, self-sustaining project. It will supply quality nutrition to so many hungry, malnourished children. In addition to being a good source of protein and nutrition, spirulina has been shown to boost immune systems, fight common illnesses and ailments such as anemia, acidosis and cataracts and has been shown to lower risks of strokes and cancer.
More information about the health benefits of spirulina can be found here.