Farmers Helping Farmers launches new projects in Kenya
It’s an exciting time for Farmers Helping Farmers as a team of volunteers has arrived in Kenya.
Members of Farmers Helping Farmers will travel to Kenya over the next three months to launch several new projects, including one that focuses on safe and inclusive schools. The group will also celebrate the opening of a new cookhouse and screened garden, thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Souris Village Feast committee.
The P.E.I.-based volunteer organization has been working with partners in Kenya for more than 35 years and has 18 schools in Kenya that are twinned with students and church youth groups on Prince Edward Island.
Three students from the Atlantic Veterinary College and Dr. John VanLeeuwen arrived in Kenya in mid-January to continue his work with dairy farmers. Their visit will include an open air clinic that usually attracts hundreds of farmers and their cows.
Volunteers with Farmers Helping Farmers will also be meeting with women’s groups in the Meru area who have received screened gardens, water tanks, drip irrigation systems, with money raised from the annual Holiday Campaign. This year, the campaign raised more than $50,000.
Having water allows the women to grow abundant vegetable groups, both to feed their families and to take to market, adding to their household income. The water tanks also mean the women don’t have to spend time carrying water to their homes, freeing them up to focus on other projects, such as their gardens.
“This is an exciting time of year for us at Farmers Helping Farmers as we see the money that has been donated by our many supporters of the Holiday Campaign turn into projects that change the lives of families in Kenya,” says FHF president Rosemary Herbert.
“We thank everyone who makes it possible for us to continue to do this important work with our partners in Kenya.”
The Farmers Helping Farmers volunteer team will be checking in on a new project launched in 2016, where women are given large bags filled with soil to grow vegetables, in areas where there is not enough space for a regular garden.
Volunteers Ken Mellish and Reg MacDonald will also be teaching book-keeping to dairy farmers and members of the women’s groups, giving them valuable skills that they can then share with others. Along with Winston Johnston, they will also visit the twinned schools to check on the state of their screened gardens, water tanks and other projects connected to Farmers Helping Farmers, along with FHF staff members.
Farmers Helping Farmers coordinator Teresa Mellish will lead the opening of a new cookhouse at Michaka Primary School, which is twinned with Stratford Elementary. This is the 11th cookhouse funded by the annual Souris Village Feast, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2017.
Later in February, a new project will be launched in partnership with the Education Committee of Meru county. The project will focus on promoting safe and inclusive schools.
FHF members Carolyn Francis and Wendy MacDonald will meet with educators and the school community begin a conversation around positive discipline methods. This is the first in several stages of the project.
A second project, led by Dr. Liz Townsend, will revolve around the issues of students with special needs in Kenyan schools. The end goal of the multi-year project will be preparing a Guidebook around social inclusion. That would include ways to help educators and families with the challenges faced with integrating students with special needs, including issues of transportation, accessibility and special equipment.
In February, the Farmers Helping Farmers team will be joined by four preservice teachers from the Education program at UPEI. The teachers will spend six weeks at schools twinned through Farmers Helping Farmers, giving both them and the Kenyan students an invaluable cross-cultural experience.
In another exciting development, Farmers Helping Farmers will oversee the signing of a partnership agreement between UPEI and Meru University of Science and Technology. The Memorandum of Understanding has already been signed by UPEI President Alaa Abd-El-Aziz. The new relationship was established during the visit to P.E.I. in October of a delegation from the Meru County assembly.
While they are in Kenya, the team from Farmers Helping Farmers will also meet with their staff, who work year-round to maintain the projects funded by the P.E.I. group and its supporters. The work would not be possible without the generous donations from Prince Edward Islanders to the Holiday Campaign, and support of fundraisers such as the annual Beef Barbeque at Harrington and the Souris Village Feast.
Thank you very much to our P.E.I. and other donors, and our partners in Kenya, who make these projects possible. We are proud that 100% of donations are used for projects, while those travelling cover their own costs.