Straw to Bread is a U.S.-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose goal is to collaborate with the Luo people living on the Nyakach Plateau in rural Kenya to accomplish their goals of improved health and education, economic empowerment, access to clean water, and food security. Straw to Bread has a Board of Directors, and the founder and Executive Director is Lisa Baker MD PhD.
To bring hope, friendship, and resources to our Kenyan partners living on the Nyakach plateau to enable them to achieve their vision of health and sustainability.
In 2001, pediatrician Dr. Lisa Baker went to Kenya to see patients. She met Habil Ogolla—medical technologist and pastor—and she learned that this man had chosen to be caretaker of sixty abandoned and destitute orphans and elders from the Luo tribe near Lake Victoria. Pastor Ogolla calls his community “Bethlehem Home”—a non-profit organization registered with the Kenyan government. Dr. Baker subsequently established a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in the USA, whose goal is to partner with and to provide resources for the wider Luo community living on the Nyakach Plateau in western Kenya. American friends began selling straw baskets made by the Luo women to raise money for food—Straw to Bread was born.
The meaningful progress that has been made from this collaboration has been due to four major factors: 1) the long-term partnership; 2) the focus on implementing the local Kenyans’ vision instead of an externally imposed agenda; 3) interventions guided by community-based research; and 4) the grounding in a common belief in the goodness, power, and love of God.
Some of the achievements include the building of Bethlehem Home Academy, a school that is #1 in its district, a well that taps into an aquifer 450 meters below ground, and Bethlehem Home Hospital, staffed and directed by a young local Luo physician, who, sponsored by Straw to Bread, graduated from the University of Nairobi Medical School. The beautiful two-story brick hospital includes space for health education as well as patient care. Other progress has included job training and higher education for young people, the establishment of ten women’s business groups, health education and support groups for women, and a funeral business that includes tent rental and catering.
- Mothers on the Move is a Straw to Bread program that ensures that pregnant women have transportation to get to a health facility to deliver their babies.
- Straw to Bread’s Raise the Roof project has installed chimneys in homes across the plateau, drastically improving the health of those who cook inside daily over open fires.
- Threaducation is another Straw to Bread effort that ensures that older girls get the sanitary supplies that they need, thereby eliminating a barrier to school attendance.
Since 2009, an annual 2-week trip with a U.S. team of college students and professionals has built strong, long-lasting relationships. In addition, thousands of patients have been treated with free medicines, three large community gardens have been planted, over one hundred rainwater harvesting systems have been installed, and a comprehensive research program has been carried out.