International Day of Charity: Cup of Uji

Everyday,  students go to school on an empty stomach and expected to fully participate in class, extra curriculum activities as well as perform well.  This is the situation that children from underprivileged families face everyday.

Francis Otieno decided do something about it. In 2011,  he visited his late mother, a public primary school teacher at Nyatwere Primary School in Oyugis, Homa Bay County. It is here that he learned that some children arrived at school not having had breakfast or even dinner the previous night. Many of them were orphans while some lived with their grandparents, who are too weak to work.

At first, he thought of giving them rice and beans, a meal that would sustain them a whole day. However, when he did the math, he realised he needed more money for a full meal. This took him back to the drawing board.

He settled for uji, which he only needed to grind dried maize. He started with 100 students in lower classes. He would fundraise from friends , well wishers and strangers online, and managed to contstantly feed 100 children with a cup of uji everyday.

However, seeing the positive effect the cup of uji had on the lower primary children, the school  requested that he includes the whole school of 500 students. This posed another challenge for him, but he was determined.

“I wanted to fight hunger for these children,
which in turn would drive education for them and  ultimately lift their families out of poverty”.


Francis, whose background is in communication, went online at 1 am.  He introduced the initiative to strangers online and his desire to serve the full 500 students in the school. To his surprise, the communications manager from the Office of the President got in touch with him. He shared his story on his platform, and by morning, him and his team had enough to cater to the 500 students. He notes that his work has grown in leaps and bounds due to the power of social media.

Since they started Cup of Uji, more and more people put a request to have their school considered for this programme.He notes that school abseinteeism has reduced and the children’s performance in school has improved. As a result of this initiative, they have introduced a schorlaship fund for bright and needy students dubbed  ‘Building Lives’ . They also donate sanitary pads to the schools they serve, give mentorship talks as well as supply of boxers to boys in the schools.

What they do

Thanks to the donators, today they are able to provide for 5443 less privileged primary school children in Kenya, a cup of warm Uji on school days. Test results and grades also have improved at the schools. 6 schools in 5 counties are being supported so far: Nyatwere Primary School and Kasimba Primary School (Homa Bay County), Tandia Primary School (Kilifi County), Kumpa Holy Mothers Primary School (Kajiado County), Kositot Primary School (West Pokot County), Kawangware Primary School (Nairobi County).

A Cup of Uji purchases its supplies directly from manufacturers and wholesalers as the price is more economical, as currently they rely on Online fundraised donations from their social media Facebook  , Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn) and currently do not have any partners.

Working at Cup of Uji is a full-time job for Francis, where he is supported by 5 volunteers. Since being founded in 2011 Cup of Uji has impacted more than 5000 children’s lives by ensuring they do not go hungry during the school day.

Francis notes that he is sorrounded by friends who support his work and a team who are passionate about fighting hunger for these children. The support of his team and volunteers is what keeps him moving.

In the future, Cup of Uji hopes to expand to more schools and kids with the goal of reaching 100,000 kids in 3 to 5 years. They also wish to stop fundraising completely and set up an endowment fund to generate income to feed kids up until they finish school. In addition, get partners on board as they currently do not have any, who can sponsor a school or kids. In the long term, alleviate poverty among students in Kenya.

To support Cup of Uji, you can volunteer in one of their schools, donate to

PAYBILL 891300


Mchanga account

Suppour them by sharing their stories on social media

Facebook : Cup of Uji

Twitter : Cup of Uji