We first visited Uganda in 2012 while working for The Giving Circle, a nonprofit based in Saratoga Springs, New York. In 2008 The Giving Circle had asked the Ugandan government for the name of a community in which they could make a difference. They were directed to the community of Kagoma Gate, which at the time, was designated the poorest community in Uganda. That’s saying a lot! The community is virtually cut off from other communities, as it is surrounded by sugar cane plantations, the main source of employment. There were no schools and the children worked in the fields. The people lived, and still do, in mud huts with thatch roofs. The women deliver babies on mud floors with no doctor present, as making it to a hospital is virtually impossible.
Fast forward ten years. The Giving Circle has built a school which now continues all the way through 7 th grade. There is also a medical clinic staffed by a mid-wife. This is where Keenan’s Kids comes in. As we spent time in this community, we could see how the addition of a Keenan’s Kids kitchen and nutritional feeding program would make a huge difference. Children would now come to school instead of working in the fields because they were promised two meals a day. Education and nutrition—a win, win for sure! Each day now for the past six years 480 school children receive a morning meal of corn meal and a lunch of rice, bean, greens and sometimes fruit. We have also built three water filtration systems for clean water. The kitchen has two new stoves with better ventilation and more help to cook this vast amount of food. Bright self-portrait tiles painted by the children adorn the face of the kitchen building. In this way the children take ownership and pride in their school. When the school in not in session we are told the children often go hungry and are anxious for school to begin again.
We have seen a deep reverence for education in this country. We have also participated in classes of 200 bright eyed children of all ages and there is not a sound in the room. If anything can save Uganda it will be due to this enduring desire to learn.
The Giving Circle implements and oversees the resources Keenan’s Kids sends to make certain that every penny is going into the mouth of a school child. We return every year to work in the kitchen and school. Keenan’s Kids is very proud of this kitchen and feeding program. We think Keenan would be too!
During March 2020, Ellie Von Wellshiem (photo above, left) visited Keenan’s Kids in Uganda. Initially, she met with Moses Wambi, leader of our mission effort in the Kagomagate community.read more
We are thrilled that the two water filtration systems provided by Keenan’s Kids for the Kagomagate community are now installed and functioning.read more
This year we will be unable to travel to our beloved Kagomagate. Nevertheless, Keenan’s Kids continues to support the feeding program at the School and supports many other initiatives. Here, we feed nearly 400 students daily.read more
During our March 2017 visit to Kagoma Gate, we observed an unusually high number of children with skin infections and stomach disorders. It didn’t take long to recognize that the root cause of all this was the lack of clean water.read more
In 2013, the community of Kagoma Gate was named the poorest village in Uganda, Africa – that is saying a lot. In 2014, Keenan’s Kids partnered with the Giving Circle to design a program to help improve attendance at school. Similar to its other programs throughout the world, Keenan’s Kids committed to providing breakfast and lunch to each child in the Village, provided that parents of the children would allow them to attend school.read more
In every project, undertaking or effort, there is always one person who rises to the top to provide inspiration, strength and leadership. At the village of Kagoma Gate that person is Moses Wambi. Moses, together with his wife, Cecelia (both pictured above) have been the driving force behind the Keenan’s Kids feeding and nutrition program, in partnership with the Saratoga Spring’s Giving Circle.read more