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The Sister Bernadette Sunshine-Mitzvah Fund

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By Allison Kozicharow; by Elizabeth Fine

Every year WiRED International collects donations for the Sister Bernadette Sunshine-Mitzvah fund, which raises money for the purchase of groceries for residents living in informal settlement (slums) in Kisumu, Kenya. Sr. Bernadette Nealon is a Catholic nun who directs WiRED’s Community Health Worker program, as well as KUAP-Pandipieri, a facility that provides a health clinic, school, women and child support program and food assistance for the area’s poorest families. Drought, floods, civil unrest and starvation continue to plague people in Kenya and the whole Horn of Africa, where disruption of the food chain has been impacted by the war in Ukraine.

The Sunshine-Mitzvah Fund, made up of mostly small “lunch money” donations from people in the United States, goes directly to those in need — with zero spent on administration or anything else. For last December’s contribution, WiRED collected $2500 for the fund, which Sr. Bernadette distributed throughout her community, where less than $45 feeds a family of five for nearly a month.

Sr. Bernadette reports that:

December is usually filled with a level of excitement for children, and this year was no exception. Though there were extreme levels of rainfall and lots of flooding we managed to keep focused on delivery of services. Food items purchased from our local supermarket and unpacked in our meeting room were made ready to be distributed among children, parents and grandparents. Forty children who attend KUAP Non-Formal School due to psychosocial or family problems were very pleased to receive the Christmas gifts from WIRED International donations to the Sunshine-Mitzvah Fund. Also, needy families received 60 bags of Christmas gifts.

Programme Officer Jenipher Muhanji sends her “grateful thanks to WIRED and all those who contributed to the Sunshine-Mitzvah Fund. The recipients were mostly from our Maternal and Child Health project, very young mothers, their babies and children.”   

Project Officer Pesilah Majiwa added, “I wish to register my appreciation and the appreciation from all the beneficiaries for the Christmas Gifts they received. The Sunshine-Mitzvah donation made such a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve. Thank you for your kindness and generosity.”

Sunshine-Mitzvah Fund Recipients

Penina Sigu

Penina Sigu receiving her donation

Penina Sigu is a 70-year-old widow. She runs a small food kiosk in Nyalenda settlement slums of Kisumu, Kenya to sustain herself and her nine grandchildren. The food kiosk is struggling since customers bought food on credit but left the area before paying for it. Supporting her grandchildren is a challenge. Penina is so happy to receive a gift from the Sister Bernadette Sunshine-Mitzvah Fund. “My grandchildren can now have meals for some days,” she says.

Edward Omondi 

Edward Omondi receiving the gift with his beautiful daughter Mary Joy

Edward was born blind. He hails from the Obunga informal settlements, where he lives with his wife and three children. Currently he sells shoes for a living; however, he reported that the business is not doing well due to the poor economy of Kenya. Edward was very happy to receive the Christmas gift from the Sunshine-Mitzvah Fund. He said, “I’m happy my family and I can finally enjoy eating some doughnuts this Christmas.”

Elizabeth Akacha

Elizabeth Akacha with her brother’s children

Elizabeth lives in Nyalenda informal settlements. She plants vegetables nearby on a government-owned piece of land. She fears that soon she might be forced to vacate because the land will be repossessed by the government. Elizabeth relies on planting vegetables as a source of living; but she informed the project that the current torrential rains have destroyed the vegetables that she planted. Apart from her children,  Elizabeth also takes care of her late brother’s children. She says that life is very hard, but Elizabeth is so grateful for the generosity of those who contributed to the gift she received, and she’s happy the children can eat something different for Christmas 2023.  Elizabeth is an example to all of the KUAP-Pandipieri staff for the care she gives to the children.

Consolata Mawang’

Consolata Mawang’ receiving her gift

Consolata lives in a two-room house in Nyalenda informal settlements. Due to her physical disability she has no source of income. She relies on her well-wishers for support. Receiving a Christmas gift from the Sunshine-Mitzvah Fund from the USA was such an exciting moment for Consolata. She said,  “May the donors be blessed abundantly.”

Community Health Workers in Kisumu Serve Nearly 10,000 People in the Past Month!

During the month of February 2024, 19 community health workers CHWs in Kisumu, Kenya, reached a total of 9,650 people with health services. Working 24 hours per week, each of the CHWs met with at least 78 patients a week, and the largest number seen in a week by a single CHW was 487, most of them in health training classes.

In February the top health-related issues were, as follows, in order of prevalence:

  • First aid
  • Tuberculosis
  • Water and health
  • Cholera
  • Malaria
  • Gender-based violence
  • Menstrual health
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Mother and child health