Thursday, February 8, 2007

What One Year Can Do!

Submitted by Heather Angell

February 6, 2007

When greeting friends after a long separation the question that often arises is, what have you been up to? A response often received is, well not too much. This was not the case when arriving at the Muchui Women’s Business Center. The Muchui Women are a self help group of 61 members. Muchui translated from Kimeru to English means very hard working and today was the perfect example of that.

This being my second trip to Kenya I was able to witness first hand just exactly what one year can do! When greeted by our Muchui friends I noticed instantly the amazing impact that had been created in one short year. The business center main building construction is finished and a large greenhouse stands tall outside the building despite three wind attempts to destroy it. Inside it houses prize winning tomatoes by any horticulturalist standard and the first set of grafted macadamia trees. They are a lush green in color thanks to the careful watch of FHF/Muchui women employees, Salomi Kimathi and Martin Gikunda. The perimeter of the building is protected by a wind break of pine trees and a large metal structure so the greenhouse will no longer succumb to the wind. The business center area also has several sand beds where the seedlings first hatch and a variety of vegetables (watermelon, eggplant, kale, tomatoes) growing. The vegetables are used as a source of revenue, seedling replacements, and for demonstration purposes for the whole community to benefit. The center’s makeup has blossomed into a three pronged business that includes a farm input supply store, vegetable seedling and crop sales, and of course the tree seedling production.

The entrance boasts a shiny bright stone sign that welcomes customers to the Muchui Women’s Business Center and once again demonstrates the professionalism and pride of this group. A mother plot of various fruit trees, macadamias, and vegetables have been established forming the future foundation of the business center and the key to self sustainability. All of this, where one year ago, the area was plagued with drought so severely that the women were unsure of where their next meal would come from. Now that is progress!

Like any farmer anywhere in the world you are always at the mercy of the weather. The plentiful rains must be given some credit to this outstanding progress but what is always constant with these women is their vision for the future and hope.

While conducting on shamba surveys evidence of the training was everywhere. The tree nurseries are thriving the women are diversifying into other areas such as dairy, goats, and rabbits, and growing many new crops such as pumpkins, eggplant, and carrots. The business center has been transformed, the shambas have been transformed, and the earth renewed.

All of this in one year!

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