Tuesday, March 4, 2008

March 4, 2008 - Drew Barrymore

So you may have heard by now that Drew Barrymore announced on Oprah yesterday that she is donating $1 million to the World Food Programme's (WFP's) School Feeding Programme (SFP) in Kenya. This is where Kristoffer works! He is actually out on his first "field visit" to eastern Kenya for this entire week (not too far from the Somalia border where the US launched a missile attack yesterday - "Have a good day at work, honey. Watch out for missiles!"). He will be meeting with District Education Officers and visiting schools where WFP feeds children to evaluate how the programs are going, where the needs are, etc.

Barrymore's money comes at a really crucial time for the WFP because the powers-that-be have cut the SFP's budget for next year so that instead of feeding 1.2 million Kenyan children, they will probably only be able to feed 850,000 or 900,000 at most. Her money, hopefully, will be able to offset some of the budget cuts. I think the idea behind the budget cuts, although the current administration doesn't seem to value the program as much as other programs, is that the government should be increasing their spending on the program as the WFP decreases its investment. Unfortunately, since the SFP began in Kenya in the '70s, the government has not increased its role and is not giving any indication that it will do so at this time.

The reality is that hundreds of thousands of children in Kenya, especially in the Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs) of the country, attend school because that is the ONLY place they get fed! We aren't talking 5 course meals here - they get rice or maize! If the SFP is cut and schools don't have money to feed children, enrollment will drop significantly as more parents keep their children home to work. I believe the WFP is one of the, if not the, largest humanitarian organizations in the world and they do so much good work; but it will be truly devastating for the poorest children in Kenya, and for the education system in general, when the budget is cut next year.

Maybe Drew Barrymore will inspire more people to donate?! She has actually been to Kristoffer's office twice in recent years to meet with his office mate, but sure enough that was before we got here. Maybe she'll stop by again :)



Joanna said...

Lis, can you provide us with information about how to donate to the World Food Programme or the SFP specifically, in a way that ensures all or most of our money will go directly to the source? Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lisa & Kristoffer

Thx a lot for your blog. It is so interesting to read 1st hand impressions from this far away country.

All the best from Majken & Peter + Kids.

Carol said...

Ms. Mueller, or should I say Mrs. Kristoffer Welsein?!... : ) I knew you two would be married by now... Well, I have been reading your blog and I think what you and your husband are doing is great. It makes me happy to think that you will be making other students in other countries just as happy to learn as you made me. You were a crucial part in my process of becoming who I now am. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Sorry Kristoffer but she will always be Ms. Mueller to me. Thank you for everything you have done and continue on your wonderful journey.
-Carol Bonilla