The sun beats down intensely on the Mbiuni Village in Kenya. Here, dust clings to everything and droughts are recurring. Amidst the village’s resilient acacia trees, lives Esther Kasumuni Nyamai, a 78-year-old grandmother whose spirit is unwavering. Esther’s daughter Mueni is unable to support her children—Dorcas (12), Wambua (8), and little Faith (11 months). As a result, Esther has no choice but to shoulder the responsibility of caring for them. 

Dorcas and Wambua’s early years were marked by constant hunger. They became malnourished putting their lives at risk. But in 2020, hope emerged. Florence Kamwila, a dedicated Community Health Promoter, learned of their situation. Supported by CMMB and the Kitui County government, Florence travels to provide basic medical care to families and to refer them to health facilities for other services when needed. It was Florence who linked the Nyamai family with CMMB’s livelihood program.  

Through the program, Esther and her family started receiving a monthly supply of essential food items—maize, milk, beans, and cooking oil. Florence ensured Dorcas and Wambua received vital nutrition supplements, too, like Plumpy Nut and ready-to-use therapeutic food through the local Kaliani dispensary. With the supplements and an improved diet, Dorcas and Wambua became stronger. Their eyes regained their spark, and their smiles returned. However, the physical effects of chronic malnutrition remained. 

Esther, her daughter, and her grandchildren_CMMB Kenya 2024

Since the Nyamai family were enrolled, CMMB’s livelihood program has transitioned from food distribution to support unconditional cash transfers. This empowers Esther, and other recipients enrolled in the program, to make their own informed decisions about their family’s needs. With the cash transfer, Esther chose to invest in small-scale farming, growing millet, sorghum, and raising livestock. She was also able to prioritize education for her family. It brings Esther immense joy to see Dorcas and Wambua flourish in school.  

But still, challenges remain. A devastating drought in 2022 wiped out much of Esther’s small farm. She reinvested, but the effects of climate change only make droughts an ongoing burden for Esther and her entire community.  

Despite this setback, Esther’s spirit remains unbroken. The cash transfer, combined with the income from her farm, allows her to prioritize. She pays school fees first, ensuring Dorcas and Wambua’s education continues. The remaining money is stretched thin, used to purchase necessities from the market ten kilometers away.  

“Without the support of CMMB and Florence, we wouldn’t be here,” says Esther. “They saved my grandchildren’s lives.” 

Unfortunately, Esther’s story is not unique. In Kitui, countless families grapple with the same challenges—hunger, drought, and limited economic opportunity. But thanks to dedicated recipients like Esther and empowering services like CMMB’s livelihood program, healthy futures are possible.