I had the opportunity to visit our projects in Mombasa, Kenya and was so happy to see what I saw. I saw a 50-acre plot of land bursting with maize, sorghum, peanuts, passion fruit, cow peas, tomatoes, and cassava. I also saw the huge need for a borehole, as the rains just won't come and we are in peril of losing all this good food.
It was so encouraging to see the good that is being done and to know that if we have just one or two good, soaking rains, the garden will produce enough food for many children, allowing them to take their medicine on full bellies. It was also frightening to think of what will happen if we don't get the rains and the drought continues to affect this land. With that in mind, we are thinking of the possibility of digging a borehole and are in the middle of getting quotations in order to see what is possible. If anyone out there knows of someone who can help us with this, please write me at tweaver@AFCAids.org. The need is huge. So is the amazing outcome.
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Thank you for being part of our work of for providing life to many.
In preparing for my upcoming trip to visit all our project, I was looking around for a good gift to bring to the folks i'll be visiting. Something useful, but not too large. Something fun, but not too heavy. Something that could be shared by many, but that would not rot their teeth. Hum...what to get?
Well, I just discovered the neatest heirloom seed site. It is called Annie's Heirloom Seeds and they have been so generous with us at AFCA. Because of them, I am taking with me tons of seeds for our various programs in Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and ZImbabwe. I can't wait to see Martin and Steven's faces when I give them tomato seeds (all different colors of tomatoes - red, purple, white, yellow, orange), squashes, onions, peppers, kale, greens, okra, melons, and much more.
The great thing is that these seeds will produce fruit which will produce seeds which can be replanted. That is the beauty of heirloom seeds! These will be perfect introducing new types of foods (very colorful ones) while allowing the folks to save some seeds for the next year.
Thank you, Annie's Heirloom Seeds - can't wait to show you photos of kids eating those purple and orange tomatoes!
Katie is doing an amazing job with he community garden in Mombasa. She has started doing Home Visits to guardians with small vegetable gardens for consultation. Katie loves these interactions, as they allow her to teach one on one, using what is available to plant and grow healthy veggies.
Katie also had the opportunity to work with Martin (assistant agronomist) 4 days this week, which was another highlight. They did some teaching about nutritious vegetables (katuk & chaya) while planting cuttings they received for them; they made chicken manure tea (this will set for 3 weeks then is diluted to make a natural plant fertilizer); they discussed working together to begin a hand-written copy of documenting garden activities and keep crop records. This last item will be something that stays with the project and will allow them to track what happens at the garden daily, while following the progress of the garden.
"As I was seeding the nursery bed with moringa, three little boys: Ali, Matmed, and Jo started peering through the fence at what I was doing. I greeted them and much to my suprise, they didn't just shout “muzungu, muzungu!” They asked me what my name was. I responded (in Swahili!) then asked them what their names were. Smiling, the boys each answered. Then they asked me if this was my home. I said... yes. It's where I feel at peace. I then asked them where their homes were... they smiled sheepishly and pointed down the road. ...I was having a conversation in Swahili with three curious young boys (not more than 7 years old, probably!) I told them that I was planting seeds and they smiled. While I went away to get some mulch they started to walk off; I called out, “kwaheri, rafiki” - goodbye friends! This was a real fun moment!"
Food is already being harvested, even when new crops are being put in the ground and trial beds are being planted with new and nutritious trees and veggies. Community members are purchasing entire plots of cowpea greens for their veggies, tomatoes, and peppers at discounted prices. And above all, a community is learning the value of keeping seeds, natural fertilizers and healthy eating.
Research & Planning
Katie, our wonderful intern, has arrived in Mombasa, Kenya in order to spend six months working side by side with Steven to create a huge community garden and seed bank. This garden is a 50-acre plot of land which will be planted with carrots, tomatoes, onion, kale, pumpkins, beans, peas, peanuts, fruit and maringa trees, and a slew of other vegetables.
While Katie and Steven (the local nutritionist) will head up the project, the work will be carried out mostly by community volunteers who will benefit from the harvest. Most of the volunteers are guardians of HIV+ children. Children will help with weeding and harvesting on weekends so that this work will not interfere with their school work. What a neat way to learn about gardening and about how to grow their own food! I know that my own children have enjoyed watching our garden grow each year, helping with weeding and watering and taking great pride as they eat a vegetable they helped grow from seed to fruit and can imagine that the children in Mombasa will feel the same.
The seed bank will be created so that in years to come, AFCA will not need to fund seeds any longer and so that the community will have their own store of organically grown seeds.
I look forward to posting photos and updates as I receive them from Katie. We will be sure to keep you abreast of what is happening with the garden, with trainings, with planning, and with all the good things happening in that community.
As Katie gets ready to leave for Mombasa, Kenya for her six months internship, Stephen (local nutritionist in Mombasa) has been very busy. With funds we've sent, he has purchased seeds and seedlings and is busy planting them. He, along with community members, worked on a two-acre plot for these new little seeds and they are seeing some growth already.
Now, the big work of getting ready to plant in the 50-acre plot has started. Fencing is being put around the area for security and to keep goats out. When Katie arrives, she and Stephen will be designing the garden so that it yields the most nutritious foods possible. Kale, moringa, neem, pumpkins, peanuts, beans, tomatoes, and many other vegetables and fruit trees are planned. I just can't wait to see how this project continues!
As I get news from our friends in Mombasa and photos from Katie, I will be sure to share them with you, our supporters. Until then, I wish for you the best New Year, knowing that you are helping children who desperately need a good, balanced diet in order to take their medicines. Thanks for being part of hope!
Happy New Year,
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