Trip Summary | June 2009
The 2009 Hearts4Kenya’s group of 13 people departed Louisville on June 13th at 2:40pm. We arrived in Oyugis at around 4pm on June 15th. We were tired but happy to be there. We began the next day with the whole group visiting some of our 100 farmers and 20 schools. We were all impressed at how well the farmers had cultivated there fields. They were about 8 weeks from their corn harvest. The farmers have expanded their crops from mainly corn and beans to sweet potatoes, sorghum, soybeans, and cassava. This increase in crop variety not only helps them in their nutrition but also with sales at the market. The farmers are doing an excellent job in all the cultivation practices they have learned. They are using compost, maintaining good weed control, rotating crops, and controlling disease in their crops.
The farmers have learned a great deal from the training they have received through Heart4Kenya and are working very hard to make this project a success. They are seeing the hope of escaping the circle of poverty they have found themselves in for generations.
Most of my own time during the rest of the trip was spent visiting farmers and schools. They are all so proud of their crops that they want me to see them. I enjoy the visits and talking to them about their crops, plans for the future, and their families. I feel that this is a very important part of what I need to do while in Oyugis. I also spent 2 days in meeting with the farm leaders and the District Agricultural Agent from the Kenyan Government. We talked about the success of the co-op and where we needed to go from there. Because of these meetings we are now in the process of writing a Business Plan for our farmers. This plan will allow us all to know better the steps we need to take to reach our common goal of making the farmers self sufficient.
The other members of the team were busy doing many projects while I was visiting the farmers. Four of the team members worked in the medical area. They visited the Wire Clinic and helped there for a short time. Their main work was treating the children at Amani and at the Baker School. They saw close to 180 children and 25 adults. They treated many cuts, Malaria, and intestinal parasites. These are some of the common problems in the Oyugis area. They also visited and worked with some of the 50 AIDS families that Hearts4Kenya helps support. We always wish that more could be done in the medical areas. There is so much need.
Our group from Presentation Academy worked on several projects. They helped with the feeding program at the Baker School, visited the Nyatindo Secondary School and talked to the students about life in the U.S. They then answered questions and spent a good amount of time playing with the orphans at Amani. The group also worked in our tree nursery planting trees and watering. They tried their hand at trashing beans and milking a cow. While we were visiting the orphans in Rongo, which St. Matthews Episcopal Church supports, the group helped with the building of a playground for the orphans, played volleyball with them and heard beautiful singing from the orphans. These young women and their leaders were great representatives for Hearts4Kenya and built many lasting relationships with the children and adults of Oyugis. Hearts4Kenya sends sincere thanks to these students and to their leader, Gary Householder, for a great job.
We had a very special experience on our trip this year. We were invited by the Chief of the Luo, Meshack Riaga Ogalo, to visit the grandmother of President Obama. We traveled about 100 kilometers to visit with her at her home. Grandmother Sarah, as she is called, was a gracious lady who allowed us to ask questions and take all the pictures we wanted. One question that was asked I particularly liked was,” Are you proud of Obama?” Grandmother Sarah said, “Yes I am very proud of Obama as I am very proud of all my 26 grandchildren.” Spoken like a true grandmother. It was a very special time for the group, and Grandmother Sarah is a very special woman. We will all remember our time with Grandmother Sarah.
This was an excellent trip as usual. The young women from Presentation did an excellent job and took away new ideas from a different culture in a different part of the world. They also have found new friends coupled with the joy of giving of themselves. This trip will remain with them for the rest of their lives. The work the farmers are doing always touches my heart. It is wonderful to see the hope in their eyes and the pride they have for what they have been able to accomplish. Thanks to all of you who have supported Hearts4Kenya in any way and please continue supporting us as we work in making these farmers self sufficient. This work only happens through the assistance we receive from folks like you.