Nothing Left to Lose


Orphans Peter Lopua, 12, (left) and Samson Lokai, 10, (right) tell the story of their losses.

Their father, a pastoralist in Turkana, Kenya, was killed in a cattle raid. Samson doesn’t know quite when. But their mother died in April 2017, from hunger. Now they are alone. Samson lived with his father, who was teaching him to herd animals. Peter lived with his mother who sent him to school. “I had no idea about animals,” says Peter. “I was living with my mother.”

“My father was training me to take care of animals,” says Samson. “When my father was killed by bandits, I came here.”

Samson misses his mother. “When my mother was alive, she would make sure Peter went to school.” She would also bring Samson and his father food. “My mother was hardworking,” he says.

 The boys put stones on their mother’s grave, a Turkana tradition. “It makes it sacred,” says Peter. When they see a special stone, they bring it to the grave and lay it atop the other stones.

“She was a good mother,” says community leader Christopher Amodoi, 25. “She had a lot of respect in the community.” A neighbor says the boys’ mother had a hard life. “She came here with nothing,” she says. “They had no food. She missed her old life. She would sob and cry. And then she died.”

When food was short, Samson would go to school to find Peter. “Peter would share his food with me,” he says. There is sometimes food served in schools, making them very attractive to children.
The boys are close.

Hunting and putting stones on their mother’s grave is what the boys do now. They don’t play. “We are too weak to play soccer,” says Samson. “With nothing in your stomach, you can’t play.”

Peter and Samson will become part of a livelihood and resilience program that will provide food for assets, such as improved farming techniques for 6,666 households, and uses Empowered Worldview to help keep communities focusing forward. “They will be among the first to be registered,” says Christopher. “They are total orphans.”

In May 2015, World Vision, under the guidance of Project Manager Fred Mzee, brought new skills to the people of Naapong.

“World Vision taught us new skills on how to farm,” says Christopher. “We would just throw seed around. We learned to plant things in order. When you just scatter seed, you don’t know what will grow. It’s just chance. Now we are planting the way the Bible says we should plant.”

The community learned to dig zaipits, 60x60x60 centimeter holes that capture what little rainfall comes. “The topsoil is rich,” says Fred. “This is good soil.” The participants are paid in food—maize, beans, and oil.

The community has planted sorghum, maize, green grams, and cowpeas. After the first season in 2015, every family received 3 kilograms of cowpeas (6.6 pounds.) “Everybody got a taste,” he says. The harvest did not go as well in 2016. “In April 2016,” says Christopher, “we had very little rain. We harvested nothing.” Yet, the community perseveres. “The project is good,” he says. “We just need water.”

The community prays for this drought to end. “We are Christians,” says Christopher. “We pray for peace. For hunger. For rain. For those who are sick. For safety.” The community shares food with the newcomers. “There are a lot of orphans,” says Christopher. “They need to be part of the program. The food we receive we will eat with them. Even if it is small, we will share with them.”

Life has changed in this community because of the latest drought. “We had wealth. We had milk. Now much of our livestock has been taken by bandits or it has died. It has totally changed the way we live.” People are no longer getting married because there is no food to celebrate. Now people are crowding into small spaces, he says, ten people to a hut. “There’s a lot of sickness. If someone has TB, it spreads. We get rained on. We don’t have enough cups.”

The children go to school because there is food there, but it is often their only meal. “They sleep all day until school comes again,” he says. “When I was young, I went to boarding school,” he says. “When I came home, I would herd cattle. We had milk. Now it is not the same.” The area faces insecurity with frequent cattle raids, but says Christopher, “our main enemy is hunger.”

“The drought has finished all the animals. Now its killing people,” says Samson. “Even people who are caring for animals are dying,” says Peter.

Photo©2017 World Vision, Jon Warren

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