Today was another full day. We started early. Because it was hard to sleep, with the goat noises and the cold (we had no blankets – all I had to cover me for most of the night was a thin sarong), I was out of bed around 6:00. I had a bit of a sponge bath at the garden tap. The sunrise was quite beautiful this morning. I went for a short walk down a path behind the garden, through the acacia trees. A group of children came running down the path. It looked like they were on their way to school.
The people are SO friendly here. The children always run to greet us and every time we stop somewhere, everyone comes to talk to us and shake our hands.
We had breakfast at a table set up under an acacia tree. The women prepared tea over an open fire. They served us bought bread and jam, bananas and ginger cookies.
After breakfast, we drove to the farm of Isaiah and Paulina. Isaiah has 2 wives. His other wife Esther was one of the women serving us breakfast. Paulina welcomed us into her house made of sticks and cow dung. She welcomed us with a graciousness and warmth that was quite remarkable and admirable. I’m sure I would hesitate to welcome a group of strangers into my home, and I have so much more than her. We sat on her bed in the tiny bedroom that held 2 beds for her and her husband. There was a small table beside the bed with a crude lantern on it. Some tin boxes served as storage space on the one shelf.
Next to the bedroom was another tiny room with beds for her three children. She opened a flap over a three inch hole in the wall to let in some light so we could see.
In the kitchen was an open fire pit on the floor and a few pots hanging on the wall. There was another small bed in the kitchen.
The entire house was possibly the size of my living room. Though it was hot and sunny while we were there and they can do most of their living outside, I can’t imagine how they spend their time during the rainy season.
Next to the house was a fenced-in enclosure where the hay bales were stored. In the enclosure was another small house for Esther, the second wife, and her children.
Isaiah owns 20 cows. On the opposite side of the house is an enclosure where the cows are kept when they’re not in the fields grazing. Isaiah has prepared 370 bales of hay – all by hand.
Isaiah hitched up the cattle and he and Paulina demonstrated how they plowed the field. I had my picture taken with Paulina in front of her house.
After visiting the farm, we went on a long ride down very rough roads to an area between two hills where they hope to build a dam. The dam will hold water that normally flows between the hills in the rainy season. They are applying for funding to the Foodgrains Bank through MCC. For 25,000, and about 3 months labour, they hope to provide water for 700 families.
It was clear this project is important to them. The leaders of the area gathered with us to honour our visit and to stress how valuable it would be for them to build their dam.
After the visit to the proposed dam site, we visited a nearby village. They served us tea and fruit and goat meat. I tried to drink the tea, but it was a little hard to swallow after two flies drowned in it. Trying not to offend them, I went for a little walk and dumped it out behind a cactus bush.
On the way back from the dam, we had a great conversation about local purchase, advocacy, and lobbying the government. The visit to the dam helped people understand the limitations of the local purchase regulations. They’re all quite passionate about carrying what they’ve seen back to Canada and writing to their MP’s and Ministers.
We stopped at another farm owned by Sarona Siampala. This is one of the contact farmers who has received irrigation assistance through the CFGB project. He showed us what a cassava plant looks like.
The third farm we visited was that of Joseph and Maria Nkuito. They have 11 children. Some of their children were away at school, but when we arrived on the farm, many children from the neighbourhood came running to see us. A few of them reached for my hands, and before long I had about 8 of them trying to hold my hands.
Maria took us to the garden. It was quite impressive. They were the first contact farmers because they were among the most vulnerable in the area. They benefited from the fencing and irrigation project (and seeds and tools, I think) of the Maasai Food Security Project, funded by CFGB.
The water for the irrigation comes from a spring in the hills about 20 miles away. It flows by the force of gravity through a 6 inch pipe.
This was one of the most successful farms in the project. By selling produce from the garden, as well as cattle, they were able to buy a vehicle. Joseph transports other neighbours to the market in his vehicle. He was at the market when we visited the farm.
While we were leaving the farm, the children once again crowded around us. They sang a song for us and then Brenda started “Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes” which they also knew and sang along.
We were supposed to visit 2 other farms today, but it was getting late, so we returned to the demo farm. The women were preparing supper for us, and in the meantime, we had time for showers and a little rest.
Not far from the demo site was the new church that was being built. Stephen, the pastor and our host, was quite proud of it. We went to see it and watched the men spreading red clay on the floor.
Stephen also took us on a brief tour of the demo farm just before it got dark. The farm is cared for by Isaiah, the first farmer we visited today. It is used to demonstrate farming techniques, drip irrigation, etc. to the farmers in the project. They also use it to test new crops and techniques. One of the most recent projects is a set of bee hives. They hope to harvest their first honey this spring.
Supper was served inside the house on the demo farm. Though the house is quite primitive, it is the nicest house for miles around. It was built for the pastor for this region. Pastor Stephen, who pastors 25 churches in the region, lives 45 kilometres away. Stephen has 5 daughters – one of whom is studying in the U.S.
After supper, we had some devotional time lead by Pastor Stephen. We also had some sharing and singing. Joseph, one of the agriculture extension workers, led the music. One of the songs we sang was the Amen song in round. In Maasai, Amen is “Assai”.
Some of the women traded sleeping arrangements for the second night at the farm, and this time I slept in the house. I shared a room with Brenda. Though it was quite peaceful, it took me a long time to fall asleep.
As “luck” would have it, I had my period today. It’s not a lot of fun dealing with blood and cramps out in remote villages with no indoor plumbing, nothing but drop holes in the outhouses, not enough water to clean yourself, etc. The worst was the place where we stopped for lunch – I had to go hide behind a tree to change my pad. Blech! Some unsuspecting snake or gopher will be a little surprised to find a bloody pad jambed into the entrance of its home!