Some new baby kukus!

This week we have an update on the orphanage’s chicken situation. That might not sound especially important to the uninitiated, but developing the chicken coop and expanding the orphanage’s ability to farm chickens has been one of the most effective (short-term) projects that The Small Things has been able to do.

You might remember a fundraiser a while back for a brand new chicken coop to replace the dilapidated and rather insecure old one. We were delighted when we were able to replace it as part of a very important move to improve the children’s diet. The food that the orphanage was able to provide for the children on a limited budget tended to be fairly low in protein. The stock of chickens was far too small to provide meat and eggs for 25-30 children – in fact there was a grand total of 8 chickens in the orphanage coop! The orphanage was barely benefiting from the stock it did have because the coop was not giving the hens protection from the weather.

The old chicken house in all its glory as the new one went up

While they were at the orphanage, board member Marie and her mother took on the challenge. In just over two weeks they were able to have a large, secure new chicken coop built by local craftsmen using only locally purchased materials. They also bought the first 6 months worth of chicken feed and made a plan with the mamas to make the chicken house project self-sufficient. Rather than relying on outside money to feed the chickens, it was agreed that after the first six months of building up capacity to around 50, a few would be sold each month to pay for food for the others.
With about 50 chickens, the children were able to have eggs every day and meat twice a week, which brought a huge improvement in nutrition.

The foundations going down.

The kids inspecting the new addition to their home.

The chickens settling in.

Marie out buying a 6-month supply of chicken feed.

A little while on, and the chicken project has suffered a couple of setbacks. Not everything can always go smoothly and we’re now working on building the chicken stock back up once again. Unfortunately a few chickens were stolen, and a few weeks back a mysterious animal (a ‘kicheche’ – weasel or ferret) got into the chicken coop and we lost several big hens and quite a few chicks. This means there are currently too few chickens to be selling any for chicken food, but we’re hoping to start that up again as soon as possible.

In the meantime we have 50 new babies at the orphanage – baby chicks!
The new coop is really wonderful for having chicks and big chickens at the same time, because the littlest ones aren’t in danger of being trampled (which was once a common problem) since they can be in separate rooms. The heater light bulbs in the new coop also mean that we can get more chicks than before, since they don’t all have to be kept warm by a mama hen.
The children loved seeing the chicks in the box before they went into the coop, probably even more than they enjoy trying (and failing) to catch the big chickens as they roam around outside.

Our 50 newest Nkoaranga residents are now growing up under the watchful eyes of Baba (‘father’) Nicky, who looks after the garden and the coop, and Kaka (‘brother’) John, who does the outside cleaning work. Hopefully they will bring the orphanage lots of extra nutrition, a bit of extra money and even more baby chicks over the next few months and years.

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