Rev Wasike informed us recently that due to food shortages in Kenya, the daily rations for the children in the CBSM school are cut down to a cup of porridge at lunch time.
That gives a new sense of urgency to our Nutrition and School Garden Project, which aims to provide a sustainable food supply to the pupils in school. Our project goals are: the growing of diverse food produce, growing and strengthening of community, education and communication of the members of our CBSM women’ co-op and the HIV/AIDS Youth Vision Program.
Our concept for sustainability focuses on:
1. The purchase of land and setting up of a communal kitchen, as the foundation of the project, insuring that the CBSM community has the opportunity to grow and prepare food, as well as create a social environment based on mutual trust and empowerment. Once they exist, it is possible for the members of our women co-op and youth vision group to continue their work over the long term.
2. None of the funds of the grant will be used towards carrying the running costs of the project. Running costs (e.g. salaries, supplies, and seeds) are carried by the profits yielded by the sale of garden produce.
3. We (the facilitating team and LR) can assure that proper training and continued support is available (e.g. training workshops and training manuals) .The gardening and small-scale farming methods taught and practiced maximize produce and optimise nutrition and assure the regeneration of soil.
4. The project is set up and sustained by people in the CBSM community. Their motivation to make the project successful lies in their willingness to better their lives by creating household income and vocational training for the youths. This practice paves a way out of poverty and hunger for the members of the women co-op, as well as a way into self-sufficiency in the future for the youths of our HIV/AIDS Youth Vision Program.
We are working hard with various community members in Kimilili, Nairobi, and at Nabuur to see that the proposal gets written and submitted as soon as we humanly can. Yet, this will not help us meet the current challenges of food shortages.
If any of you can help us to with information or advice about who we can contact, we would be very thankful. Any private donations would also be appreciated.
Immediately after Jennifer donated the money, I called the families through the one of board members and communicated about the donations and their intended purpose. When Kundu’s father received information about the donated seeds, it was God's timings that the father and Kundu plus others in the family seriously became engaged preparing their land for planting.
This gift really enabled this particular family to approach the year in a different style. Kundu and his siblings plus the father are without mother, and though they have land they have been compelled to hire out the same land at a small fee for many years since they never had means to farm the land themselves.
Now they could finally grow their own food. Since the family could not afford a tractor or oxen to come by to plough the land, they had to do it by hand (hoe). Even though this is a slow way of preparations, they had completed a big portion of their land by the time we went to buy the seeds.
Kundu, his father, and Rev. Wasike
Originally, I had wished to buy the seeds in Nairobi, but communication with the family forced me to go and make them select what type crop seeds they thought they could manage without more inputs from outsiders. They had very set ideas about what they wanted to grow. So when I was in Kimilili last week, right away Kundu plus his father and I went into town to buy the seeds in the Agrovet shop.
At this stage, I was a bit surprised with Kundu’s reaction. He did not indicate much happiness, but acted as if it as normal for him to receive the seeds. Then, I looked at Kundu’s father and was challenged when I saw tears flowing, upon receiving the seeds. In fact, he said that did not believe it would happen. He had done all the preparation not quite believing it would actually happen. When handed him his seeds, he wanted to leave immediately. He didn’t even want to stop to take a photo.
It was a cloudy day and showing signs of rain. He just excused himself, saying that he wanted the day's rain to find his seeds in the soil. Two or three hours later, I went to his home because I wanted to discuss with him a difficult situation that persisted for the last few months. And that was, he refused to let Kundu go to school and instead got Kundu casual work looking after cattle for the neighbourhood.
Upon reaching the home of Kundu, I was shocked to see everyone out on the plot of land planting the seeds. It was almost impossible for me to get Kundu’s father to sit down with me to discuss this matter close to my heart, even though I sacrificed time needed with other community members to go there.
As far as one could see, there was a beehive of activity on the plot of the land of Kundu’ family planting the seeds. The father and elder children plus Kundu himself were at peace; joyful and energetic to go the extra mile as long as it meant planting their own food.
I had a short chat with the father and he promised to send Kundu back to school when the school terms start again. Not, only do the seeds provide the family with food, they also enable Kundu to go to school. Among all those who received gifts from Jennifer, my personal rating noted that Kundu’s family saw God through the seeds.
Our garden project started as many project here start, by taking small steps with big hearts and strong wills. Since the plot of land that our temporary school stands on is too small, the planting was done in various places in the area; depending on the free portion of land donated for this season by the Kimilili community.
We managed to plant cassava plant, maize, cow peace, and kale (sukuma wiki). We are hoping to raise some funds so that we can purchase some land adjoining the school, as well as a plot of land 15 minutes walk away that is bordering on the river.
Rev. Wasike is travelling today to Kimilili to attend the end of half term school celebrations.
He sent me the following about this event,
"I will be attending the end of term ceremony, which involves giving awards to the individual children. There are awards such as, who are best clean, best in class, best behaved, best disciplined, most improved. We try to reward our children by giving them some presents, or small sums of money (if available), to encourage them to continue their good work, or to motivate them to do better."
Rev. Wasike has promised to return with stories and many photos. He will take photos, not only of the ceremony, but also of the school garden and the children receiving the gifts Jennifer so kindly donated.
As mentioned in our last post, our school garden is started. Now we just have to extend the types of crops and care for the garden in the next months.
We are also documenting the children’s progress on our CBSM Nutrition and School Garden website. The website has some course material and video material about small-scale gardening that hopefully could be of use for other schools projects.
If anyone has other information that we can put onto the site, please let us know.
I just wanted to give you all a quick update on our school garden project. The children and community volunteers managed to prepare the garden and we’ve already planted suku mawiki, a local kale crop, and it is doing quiet fine. We will take photos by end of the week. We are also scheduled to plant more crops by next week, as I am to go with more seedlings on Saturday. God willing, we are hoping to plant onions, maize and tomatoes next.