VOTA is donating money from every sale of our album when you purchase physical album from us on the road or in our online store. USAID is offering a matching grant towards every dollar we give Food for the Hungry. Basically when you purchase our album for $10, we are literally able to send $40 to this project in Kenya! Amazinginly, we've raised over $210,000 since our album was released! Food for the Hungry will use this money to train women on gum arabic collection, handling and marketing. The grant also will help fund a cash-for-work program to plant acacia trees to further increase gum production, which will provide income for northern Kenyans during periods of drought. They will survive, even if the animals die.
VOTA/FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY PROJECT PROVIDES "MIRACLE COMMODITY..."
88,000 people live in the Laisamis Distirct of northern Kenya. Half of the people in this harsh, arid desert live in abject poverty, barely surviving day-to-day. They are herders of cattle and camels – used for food and traded for money. This is their livelihood. So when drought strikes and the animals die, so do the people.
Recurring droughts are recurring nightmares for residents of Laisamis, and many are forced to try and make charcoal to earn money. The production of charcoal requires the burning of trees, and this only further desolates the landscape, making life even harder in the long run. But it’s hard to plan for the future when you need food to eat today.
One solution to this dilemma is something called gum arabic – a product made from an acacia tree very common in Laisamis. Though you may never have heard of gum arabic, it serves a bounty of purposes and is a key ingredient in soft drinks. The substance is in high demand worldwide and even has been called a “miracle commodity” in Sudan, where it is a leading export. And unlike the production of charcoal, the tapping of the sappy, gooey gum arabic from the acacia tree doesn’t harm the tree itself.
Earning money by collecting gum arabic is profitable now and is sustainable for the future, making it a positive alternative to keeping livestock or making charcoal. It is a more reliable way for the families Laisamis to sustain themselves.