Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nutrition seminars

by Colleen Walton
Aug 27
Today was the first day of nutrition seminars. Micronutrient deficiencies, coined as ”Hidden Hunger”, are prevalent in developing countries world wide. Vitamin A, Zinc, Iron and Iodine are the key nutrients of interest for optimal mental and physical development and immunity(UNICEF). Food based strategies for combating Hidden Hunger include:
 increased consumption of dark green and orange fruits and vegetables (Vitamin A),
 increased consumption of animal source foods (Zinc and Iron),
 improving absorption of zinc and iron from vegetarian diets through reducing anti-nutrients in the diet by soaking beans prior to cooking and drinking tea two hours before or after a meal.
 Preparing nutritionally balanced porridge, using milk, for small children and nursing moms.

Together with nutrition information based on the Kenyan Food Pyramid, these are the key messages for our seminars.

Regina and Gerald has identified locations and I had identified farmers to attend, taking ½ from each membership group, selected randomly except where interviewees were living very close together. In the latter case, the group of 2 or 3 members were selected for August or January seminar. Sam, Hilda, Regina and I had prepared, translated and copied a Family Nutrition Fact Sheet, and recipes and planting and harvesting directions for the traditional, drought tolerant, leafy greens. Francis (our house chef) was up at 4:30am to finish cooking the soaked maize and beans into githeri, and then into fried githeri as well as prepare pumpkin chapati and a mixed dish of managu, terere, and mafake (all traditional leafy greens).

Sam and I picked up Regina (research assistant extrordinare) and Hilda (nutritionist) at 8:30 and headed into the hills to the coffee factory for the first seminar. Several women from 'far' were already there and people trickled in until about 10 am when we started. Hilda is a very good adult educator, engaging everyone with her questions, laugh and antics driving home key messages of family nutrition and combating Hidden Hunger.

People were very happy with the seminar and asked alot of questions, wanting Hilda to stay and talk longer so they could learn more. I of course want to see the knowledge in action, come January, so we stopped according to our schedule and had our food tasting session, presenting some of the ways that each family can combat Hidden Hunger in their homes.

The food samples were a hit and people were very surprised that the beans were soaked, that it was dried maize that was so soft and tasty, that the traditional greens tasted so good and that there was mashed pumpking in the beautiful chapatis!

During the interviews most women interviewees reported knowledge of soaking beans but did not practice as it “reportedly” impaired the taste of the githeri. Traditional, drought tolerant leafy greens have a `poverty` perception thus farmers tend toward kales and chard despite these crops needing more water and being less pest resistant. We were told that “city folk” in Kenya are moving back to these traditional greens so in addition to eating them from their own farms, there may be an income opportunity from these greens as well.

They were appreciative of the Family Nutrition fact sheet, the seeds and directions for the Traditional greens (terere, managu, saget, and clotalaria) and for the cooking oil. The seminar began with a prayer, finished with a song and ended with another prayer. Many thanks were given to Farmers Helping Farmers and to the supporters of this project for the information and gifts.

Over the course of four seminars in two days, only 3 families of the 58 invited failed to show up for the training.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nursing Students - Update

We are on our last week of work at the hospital here in Kenya. As Rianne mentioned, we have been spending our time working at St Theresa’s Mission hospital in Kiirua. It’s hard to believe how quickly the time has passed; however, we have managed to gain a remarkable amount of knowledge and experience in the short time that we have spent here.

Last week, we travelled to Mukurwe-ini to visit Colleen and Lisa and see the work being done in their area. We had the pleasure of visiting the Wakulima dairy project and learning about the activities that take place there. We also accompanied them in carrying out their research on the quality life and diet of the community. Through travelling to different homes and conducting surveys, we were able to learn about the typical diet of a family in that particular community. As nursing students, this was of great interest to us considering how significantly the diet of an individual effects the outcome of their health and healing. It was not difficult to determine that the work of Farmer’s Helping Farmer’s greatly correlates with our work here as nursing students.

Tomorrow, we will be travelling to the Muchui women’s group to obtain a second set of blood pressures. After seeing this group of women several weeks ago, and determining how high their blood pressures were, we have decided to return once more to follow up. We are hoping that after having educated the women on lifestyle changes that can potentially lower blood pressure, and encouraging certain women whose BP’s were significantly high to see a Doctor, that these women are continuing to work on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We will keep everyone posted on whether or not our intervention was successful!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Research Project

Colleen Walton is currently in Kenya. She is conducting research to determine associations between years of membership at Wakulima Dairy, with veterinary and other FHF interventions, on the quality of life and diet of the community members.

The research has been endorsed by the Wakulima Board and Farmers Helping Farmers Board. Dr. John VanLeeuwen is the thesis supervisor. Funding support for the research is from the World Veterinary Congress, Veterinarians without Borders, and the Canadian Home Economics Foundation. Colleen has also received a "Graduate Student Scholarship" from the Atlantic Veterinary College.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Kenya- From a student nurse's perspective


My name is Rianne Carragher, and I am a fourth year nursing student from UPEI, currently doing a summer internship in a small town called Kiirua, located in Kenya, Africa. There are four interns completing this placement, and are all from the same nursing class at UPEI. We arrived in Kenya on June 28th, and are flying out of Nairobi on September 11th.

The experience so far has been phenomenal, and we have learned so much about nursing with limited resources and technology. We are doing our placement at St. Theresa’s Mission Hospital, and staying at a compound on the hospital’s grounds. The people here are so welcoming, and continue to make an effort to make us feel at home and comfortable each day.

It is amazing to see the role of a nurse in a country half way across the world from Canada, and even more amazing, is the similarities they possess. Nursing in Kenya is focused primarily on effective communication, caring, empathizing, being genuine, being competent in your skills- all the same qualities that one must have while nursing in Canada.

We are working five-day weeks, and rotating throughout different areas of the hospital. Mondays through Wednesdays, we are right on the hospital grounds, and working on a maternity ward, medical surgical ward, or in a maternal clinic, and when the opportunity arises, we attend surgeries. Thursdays, we all head out on HIV/AIDS outreach with a Registered Nurse from the hospital, as well as a client here that is HIV positive. During these Thursdays, we go to different communities- some areas with a lot of poverty- and go door to door and educate families about HIV/AIDS. We talk about how it is transmitted, treatment options, and medical expenses. Many times it is difficult for us to communicate with the residents, as they mostly speak Ki Swahili, or another mother tongue, but being there to witness the education between the nurse, client, and residents is amazing as it is. It is unbelievable how little people know about the disease- especially when many of them are potentially HIV positive, and how prevalent the illness is in this country. Fridays we finish off by going to a Children’s Home with an attendance of over 80 children ranging from ages 0-5. After 5 years old, they are sent back into the community with the hopes that they will find someone to live with or take care of them. We mostly work with the infants, and help to bathe, feed, and play with them- the home is under-staffed, and although playing with them is no chore for us, it is a big help to the staff, so that they can have a small break for the day.

Kim Critchley, the dean of nursing at UPEI, and Kevin Teather, a biology professor at UPEI, flew into Nairobi with us at the beginning of our journey. We all had a lot of fun together and were able to do some touring of Kenya, getting the chance to see many different animals, towns, and people.

Teresa Mellish, from Farmers Helping Farmers, was our next visitor, and with her, we had the opportunity to visit Ruuju Women’s Group, and put on a Blood Pressure Clinic for the Women.

John van Leeuwen, a veterinarian, who also works with Farmers Helping Farmers, came shortly after Teresa, and came to the Children’s Home with us. He educated some of their staff on how to improve the quality of life for their animals, therefore benefiting the Home with more milk and food for the children.

Next week, we will be meeting with a few other Islanders who work with FHF, Colleen Walton and Lisa Wolff, to assist them with the Wakulima project, in a town called Nakuru- we are looking forward to this as well!

We are so fortunate to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and none of this would have been possible without the support from many islanders and organizations, including all the people who have come to stay with us in Kenya, many Kenyan residents-Shaad Olingo, Henry Macharia, Jennifer Murogocho, the Sisters from St. Theresa’s- Sportsmen’s Safaris and Tours Ltd., the staff at St. Theresa’s Mission Hospital, the University of Prince Edward Island, Farmers Helping Farmers, and CIDA.

Thank you for your support, thoughts, and prayers from home!
~Rianne Carragher

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Water tanks

by Teresa Mellish

The funds raised by the 2008 Women Making Waves campaign were used to install a water tank at the home of each of the 62 members of the Ruuju Womens Group.
When I visted these homes two weeks ago, the women all had a little water in the bottom of their tanks- which they harvested from the last rain in May. They say they use it very frugally- it is used only for drinking and cooking since it is clean.

We still need to raise $200 per tank for 26 of the women.

Mosquito nets, soccer balls and shirts

by Teresa Mellish

During my recent visit to Kenya, I visited several schools to distribute gifts from generous Islanders. The schools we visit are all schools which are twinned with Island schools.

At the Matuto Primary school,I distributed 43 mosquito nets purchased with funds raised by the Park Royal United Church Sunday School. I also gave them 2 sets of soccer shirts and soccer balls.

At the Gathukimundu Primary School, the older boys immediately tried on the soccer shirts and posed for a photograph.


Maize crop at the Ruuju Primary School

Despite the rest of Kenya being very dry, the members of the Ruuju Womens Group harvested a crop of maize and beans in the last short rains.

The Ruuju Primary School has 8 acres of land attached to the school on which they grow maize and beans for the school lunch program to supplement the maize and beans provided by the parents. They too harvested a crop of maize and beans. The maize harvest is shown in the photograph. They said they had harvested enough beans to last until 2010.

Their vegetable garden is also doing well.

Drip irrigation

by Teresa Mellish

As we drove through Kenya and visited farms, we realized how dry Kenya is. The daily Kenyan newspapers tell us that some parts of Kenya are on relief food rations because it was so dry that there was no crop harvested in the last rains.

I visited two farms owned by the Muchui Group members- and they, too, had a crop failure in the short rains. Although these women have drip irrigation in their kitchen gardens, one woman was not using it because she could not afford to purchase water from the water line which is connected to her home. A tank of 4600 litres of water costs $4 and would last her for a month, including for drip irrigation for her kitchen garden. She would not sell any of the maize she had harvested from the long rains so that she could buy water to grow vegetables in her kitchen garden.

The second home we visited was Elizabeth Kirema's home and she was using water to irrgate her kitchen garden. She had onions ready to havest and many tomato plants. However the field below her garden was so dry looking- and when we visited her in January she had a great crop of maize growing in it.

When we met with the Muchui Womens Group Project Management Committee we reviewed how many women could not afford to buy water for their kitchen gardens and discovered that 36 of the 63 women could not afford it. It was agreed that their tanks would be filled every week for the next 10 weeks- until mid October when the long rains should start- and they would be supplied with kale, tomato and onion seedlings.

Bio gas cooks food for farm families

by Teresa Mellish

Last week Shaad Olingo and I visited four of the farm families who now have bio gas to cook meals for their families. They get this bio gas from pouring two buckets of cow manure into a black plastic tube each day- which causes the formation of methanae which is piped into the house and burns when ignited. In this photo Christine Ngundu is cooking on the burner using methane gas. She said she cooks breakfast faster and does not have to inhale smoke from the wood fire she used to use for cooking. This was funded by the Stratford Rotary Club and the Canadian International Development Agency

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hillsborough Rotary Club builds dining hall at Ruuju School

The Hillsborough Rotary Club supported the construction of a dining hall for the 500 primary students who attend the Ruuju Primary School. This means that the students will have a place to eat their lunch out of the sun and the rain (during rainy season).Please add that the building will be used by the Ruuju Womens Group for training and their meetings. Also it will be used for community events.

Blood pressure clinic

The nurses carried out a blood pressure clinic for the members of both the Muchui Womens Group and the Ruuju Womens Group. They gave each woman her blood pressure readings on an index card. Then they explained the meaning of blood pressure readings and told them how to interpret them. They also offered suggestions on how to lower their readings- such as reducing their intake of salt. The women were very grateful and gave each of the girls a Kenyan cloth to wear

Marley, Rianne and Cherly share photos with children at soccer game

Playing soccer

Ashley Caulier is on the UPEI soccer team and she joined the high school boys for a game at the Kiirua Boys Secondary School. While Ashley was playing soccer, Marley, Rianne and Cheryl shows the photos they had just taken to some children

Friday, July 31, 2009

Student nurses in Kenya

Four, fourth year UPEI nursing students presented a letter from the School of Nursing to Sister Mary Kinyua which indicated the School of Nursing will support the HIV/AIDS Outreach program of the St. Theresa's Mission Hospital in Kiirua Kenya. The students are in Kenya for three months to carry out clinical rotations at the hospital.
In the photo they are (left to right)
Cheryl Edmunds, Marley Bruce, Sister Mary Kinyua, Rianne Carragher and Ashley Caulier.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter in Ichamara

The Easter Bunny has not visited Ichamara, but we are having a good weekend regardless. On Friday we visited Gerald’s house and had dinner with his family. It was a great visit, and we realized just how far he has to walk to work each day. It’s over an hour’s walk in a suit! Lunch was really good, but I was still not very trusting of my stomach, so I didn’t have very much. On Saturday we attended the Prize Giving ceremony. Gillian and I arrived early and were treated to a tour of the school’s forest by some the standard 7 & 8 students. We were blown away with how mature and professional these five students were on the tour. We both agreed that we have paid for tours that were not as well delivered! They took us for a walk to the access point, and then through the forest to a field, and around to the coffee tree field. These kids were incredibly knowledgeable, and were very impressive. The ceremony began around 2pm, and Blathnaid and Jess joined us at that point. The ceremony began, but the winds and dark clouds began at about the same time. After about an hour, the ceremony was put on hold because of the heavy, heavy rains, and the Tuskers tarp that we were sitting beneath collapsed and nearly drenched us. Blathnaid and I got a little wet, but nothing too major. We left the ceremony at 6:30pm, and it was still going strong. I am betting that it probably went late into the night. Today (Sunday), we attended Easter mass at Kimondo church, and it was a 2 1/2 hour mass. There were some really upbeat songs, and even a youth dance troupe. Some distinct differences from churches at home. Tomorrow we are having lunch at Lucy’s house, and the rest of week we are scheduled to be visited two other schools in the area. We leave early on Friday morning, and we are having a hard time believing that our time in this house is almost expired. Not long now until we are back in Canada!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Week Five

Although we were not teaching at our regular schools this week, the week was very busy. We started Monday by going on the Milk Run with the Wakulima Dairy. We all took separate routes, and were busy helping the workers write down the milk numbers, and talking to the locals. People were very excited to see us, and really happy to speak with us. Lisa and Blathnaid both went to Brookside Dairy and saw how the milk was processed after being picked up. It was a very interesting day and we all enjoyed it.

Tuesday we went to Gathukimundu to do a training session with the teachers for the OLPCs. Lisa has previously introduced the computers to the students, and the teachers seemed just as excited to have the opportunity to learn how to use them as well. We went through various programs with the teachers, and allowed them to have free time to explore the computers. For many this was the first time ever using a computer and they needed to learn simple things such as how to turn the computer on, and where each letter was on the keyboard. We also led a brainstorming session where we had the teachers tell us how they could see themselves using the computers with the students, and what programs they found would be most useful for them. The teachers also asked many questions and voiced some concerns they had of the computers. The teachers really enjoyed the session and it was exciting to be able to see how the teachers were planning to use them with their students.

Wednesday and Thursday we spent the day at Matuto Primary School, which is twinned with Prince Street Elementary. The headmaster was very excited to see us and the students even more so. Although the students were on their Easter Holiday, the grades 6, 7, 8 came back to school for those two days specifically so we could come teach them. We spent the days doing extra lessons for the students and playing ‘footie-ball’. On Thursday after classes the students walked us to the Chairman of the Matuto’s farm. We planted maize and watched how Arrowroot was planted. We also had a tour of the farm and had the chance to play with some of the kids from neighbouring farms, putting Maple Leaf tattoos on them. We also had the chance to try Sugarcane, which we all really enjoyed.

For Good Friday, Gerald invited us out to his home for lunch. It was a good time spent with good food and great company. Gerald also gave us a tour of his farm and we spent the afternoon drinking tea and eating Macadamia nuts from one of his trees.

On Saturday we went to prize giving ceremonies at both Ithanji and Gathukimundu. The students entertained the guests with both song and dance which they had spent weeks preparing for. Although the day was interrupted by heavy rainfall and thunder showers, everyone still had a great time. At the Gathukimundu ceremony we officially presented the OLPCs to the school.

All in all it was a very busy and productive week, filled with new experiences and new friends.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Week #4

This week was our last week in our schools. It was sad saying goodbye to all the teachers and students, but we plan to visit them again before we leave. The school week only went from Monday to Wednesday, and at that time the schools closed for the holiday. The students seemed relieved to be finished with exams, but still continued working on these three days. On the last day some of us went to visit students’ homes and were shown around their farms. There were also trees planted at Ithanji Primary in the Canadian Forest.
On Thursday we were invited by the staff at Gathukimundu to visit William Holding Wildlife Foundation and Education Center. We visited this site, which looks after many orphaned animals as well as some animals we hadn’t seen yet like a Rhinoceros and the Hippo. It began with an information session, followed by visits to the animals, and a ride on a 150 year old Tortoise.
We went to Nyeri on Saturday to visit Green Hills Hotel’s pool. It was a beautiful day and we got lots of sunshine.
Our next two weeks are very booked up as we begin our community projects.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Photo from Lisa.

We have received this wonderful photo from Lisa MacLeod, one of the UPEI pre service teachers who is teaching at Gathukimundu Primary.
She reports;
"The work of the OLCPs has begun and so far it seems to be very sucessful. Each student in upper primary at Gathukimundu will receive one hour of lessons on the computers. For children who have very limited exposure and access, they are learning very quickly."
Thank You, Lisa!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Week Three

This week we had the opportunity to see each other’s twinning schools. We noticed that each school is very unique and each has a very different atmosphere. The atmosphere we noticed is strongly reflective of the staff of the school. The children were writing exams so we were not able to spend a lot of time at each school, but we were there long enough to enjoy the time with the children.
Exams are a very significant part of the schools in Kenya, and the schools are very competitive with one another. If a student does not rank well in primary exams they may not get into their preferred secondary school. The exams are the pinnacle of the term. Schools who are successful were very eager to show their success to us.
We began working on one of our community projects this week with an introduction of the OLPCs (one laptop per child), to the upper primary students at Gathukimundu. These were received very well by the students as they were extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with computers. We will also be training the teachers at the school so they are able to provide support to the students when we leave the computers there.
We visited Nyeri City over the weekend where we went to a hotel pool and took in some sunshine. It was a definite change of scenery and it was good to see a different part of the district from where we live. We were invited to attend mass at St. Peter and Paul Kimondo Catholic Parish on Sunday morning, and the people were very welcoming. Although most of the service was in Kikuyu the structure of the service was very similar to that of a Catholic church in Canada, so we were able to follow. The music was a lot more vibrant and energetic with drums and rhythmic instruments that really added to the experience.
We are sad that we only have one week left with the students, but look forward to our community projects in the following two weeks.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another Wild Week

This week was full of excitement. John arrived on Thursday afternoon and we were all very excited to see the familiar face. On Friday we left for Samburu and stopped at the Equator for some pictures and shopping. We arrived at Sarova Shaba, Samburu in the afternoon. The lodge was beautiful; we were welcomed with fruit juice and hot towels after a long bumpy ride, known as the “African Massage”. The lodge had a lot of monkeys over the lawns, and a very large swimming pool, which we were all excited to see. We went on our first Safari in the afternoon, and were happy to see many elephants, giraffes, and zebras. On the second day out we even saw lions!
On Saturday we went to a Samburu Village, where we took a tour of the village and were told some of the history of the two tribes who live there (the Samburu and the Turkana). We also watched a dance, and were even invited to join in. As we walked throughout the village, we were also shown the inside of the manyattas, and watched as men made fire with sticks. On our way out of the village, the women of the village set up a market of goods they had made. We all agreed that the visit to the village was our favourite part of our visit to the Samburu area, although the animals were an exciting part of the weekend also.
Although we didn’t want to leave Samburu we were excited on Sunday to be heading to the Meru area to meet with Jennifer. Jennifer welcomed us into her home and was happy to have us there. That night, she made a wonderful dinner and Shaad even came to join us. Unfortunately we only had the one night with Jennifer, and the next day we had to leave to visit the schools.
First we visited Kiirua Secondary Boys School. We were met by the head teacher and Martin from the Muchui Women’s Group who showed us around the school and the gardens. We were very impressed with the school’s gardens, and how self-sustaining the school is. They had produced enough potatoes to feed the students for the entire term.
Next we visited Kinyenjere Primary School, where the students were very excited to see us. The headmaster showed us around their gardens and took us through each classroom. In the classrooms we were greeted with smiling faces. As we were leaving the school the students all gathered around us to ask questions. They asked us several questions about Canada, and posed for many, many pictures.
The weekend was very busy, but we all really enjoyed visiting Jennifer and the schools. We headed back to Ichimara very tired, but with many memories.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

First Week in Kenya

We have had a very successful first week here in Kenya. Everyone has helped to make the transition from Canada to Kenya very easy. Henry met us at the airport in Nairobi and got us quickly settled into the Fairview. Shaad and Clement took us out to Rimpa Estates Farm where we had a great afternoon of wildlife and great food. They then brought us to the house in Ichamara and helped us get settled in. They have both been very helpful this week. On our first day in the house we met Gerald and Lucy, who continue to help us settle in and make sure our first week of school went smoothly.

We started our placements at Gathukimundu, Mwati, and Ithanji Primary Schools and were greeted by smiling faces. Although the drive to Ithanji may be a challenge on the dirt roads, it is always worth it when we see the student’s smiling and waving. The kids made us feel very welcome by singing on our arrival. The students are very respectful and always stand when we enter the classroom. They are very quiet in the classroom, unless they are asked a direct question, and are very concerned with answering correctly. The students have become accustomed to working individually, however we continue to try to integrate group work. The students are very eager and have a high level of respect for their teachers. The teachers in the schools have been very pleasant and helpful. They are very interested in Canada, and they ask many questions each day in the staffroom.

Over the weekend we went into Karatina with Francis. He helped us find our way around the Uchumi and we also went to the open air market. The open air market in Karatine is the largest open air market in Africa, and is very busy on Saturday mornings. Francis helped us barter for fruits and vegetables, it was very helpful to have him there. Francis is an amazing cook, and we are all wondering how we are going to go back to Canadian food. We are greeted each day after school with smoothies and an after school snack. He has definitely made the adjustment from Canadian to Kenyan food very easy.

We are looking forward to week number two and our trip with John to Samburu this weekend.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Vets hold a successful “walk-in clinic”

Dr. John VanLeeuwen and the vet group, including Sheila McIver, Jennifer Burns, Shelli Meleck, and Erica Allen, scheduled a “walk-in clinic” for cattle in the Barria Market area near Kiirua from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on February 1, 2009. The intent was for members of the Muchui Women’s Group, and their neighbours, to bring their cattle to the “tick dip facility” where their animals could be examined and treated if they were sick, or simply treated with a dewormer that was donated by Canadian pharmaceutical companies (Merial, Pfizer, Vetoquinol, Wyeth).

When the vet group arrived at the location at 9:30 am, there were already 30 cattle waiting for them. And that was a sign of things to come. By noon, they had already dewormed over 200 cattle and examined 20 sick animals, and word was spreading fast so they just kept coming. They had a great system going, very efficiently moving cattle through the handling facilities, with help from Shauna Mellish, Angus Mellish, Susan MacKinnon, Shaad Olingo, Martin Gikunda and Salomi Ntinyari.

By 1:30 pm, there were at least another 100 cattle waiting for deworming, and they were still coming from every direction, leading the group to start thinking about how they were going to “shut down” the clinic. That is when the dark clouds started rolling in, and so some of the owners started trying to get their cattle dewormed without waiting their turn. This led to some unruly behavior, which spooked the vet group a bit. Then “the blessings” started falling from the heavens, making the decision for the group. In this area of Kenya, the twisty undulating clay roads become very slippery and impassable by vehicle if it starts to rain hard. So the group packed up their things, and told the crowd that they might be back if the rain was not too bad. Well, 1 ½ hours later when the heavy rains stopped, there was no going back. So unfortunately, the late-comers were disappointed. This was a one-day clinic for this area, with training sessions planned for the next day in Thubuku, so the local animal health people would have to take over where the Canadians left off.

The final tally was nearly 300 animals dewormed and 40 sick animals examined and treated. The group felt really good about getting that many animals treated, and about the great camaraderie that developed when working efficiently like a well-oiled machine.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


submitted by Susan MacKinnon

After driving on the roads here in Kenya, it is going to be difficult to complain about the state of roads on PEI. Our combi driver, Clement, refers to them as "free messages".

Although similar in color to PEI soil, it ends there. Kenyan soils are very fine textured and turn to gumbo when wet, and in a very short time can become impassable. Shaad Olingo has been doing a great job of watching the clouds for impending rain and quickly ushering us to the tarmack (paved road). Last Sunday we got caught in a downpour and had an exciting ride on the narrow, rutted, winding road.

Rain or shine there are always people walking along the side of the road – kids going to school, business people going to jobs, and door to door salesmen carrying their goods on their backs. Donkey’s or oxen pull carts filled to overflowing with everything from lumber and milk cans to Napier grass for feed.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Crop Advisor Team Rewarded for Their Work

Crop Advisor Team Rewarded for Their Work

We spent yesterday walking to farms of the Ruuju Women and talking with them about their variety trials. We were also able to observe other crops they were growing, such as bananas, mangos, cow peas, pigeon peas, pumpkins and others.

In addition to her kitchen garden, Sabrina Nkura had a greenhouse with drip irrigation. Currently she is using it to grow her kale. The crop looked good but there seemed to be some weak and dead plants. Angus and Susan were able to conclude that the kale was receiving too much water early on. They offered her some advice to help make her crop stronger and complimented her on her farming techniques.

As we were about to leave Sabrina presented us with a live chicken and a bag of mangos. Shauna carried it back to the combi. The chicken was contained in a box with holes and transported back to Jennifer Murogocho’s where we are staying. It lives in her chicken coup and will likely become our dinner before we return to Canada.

Prepared by Shauna Mellish
January 31 2009

Farmers Helping Farmers Team Reviews Corn Varieties

Farmers Helping Farmers Team Reviews Corn Varieties

The headlines of the Kenyan newspapers describe the food situation in Kenya. Many people do not have enough food. The papers report that the price of a bag of maize has been raised from 1900 Kenyan shillings to 2300 Kenyan shillings. Food security is a big issue here now.

The members of the Muchui Womens Group are especially at risk because they live in a very dry area.

Farmers Helping Farmers is carrying out a project with the Muchui Womens Group members in Kiirua to search out and demonstrate drought tolerant crops that will grow in this very dry area.

Angus Mellish, Shauna Mellish and Susan MacKinnon are here in Kenya to review the performance of the crops being grown by the Muchui Womens Group members. They are also looking at the management of the crops.

Yesterday they visited several members’ farms including Isabella Nkubu’s farm and Elizabeth Kirema’s farm. In spite of the poor rainfall, they saw a good stand of maize grown from several varieties of maize seed. There were one to two large well-filled cobs on most plants.
In addition the crops have been well managed. They fields are weed-free, the seed and row spacing is right, the fertility is appropriate -on the whole a great job is being done by these women.

Along with the Kenyan staff working on this project, they will be making recommendations for the next round of crops.

Prepared by Teresa Mellish and Susan MacKinnon
January 30 2009

Kim Critchley visits Childrens Home

UPEI Kim Critchley visits Children’s Home

Kim Critchley is in Kenya this week exploring the possibilities of having 4th year nursing students do a four year rotation at St Theresa’s Maternity and Cottages Hospital. The hospital is located in Kiirua and is run by the Sisters of St. Theresa of the Little Child of Jesus.

The Sisters also run a Children’s Home (we would call it an orphanage) near Kiirua. We saw 20 babies and about 40 children between three and four years old. The babies were being bathed and changed before being taken out to crawl around on a rug.

The three and four year olds included some children from the community as well as the children staying in the home. They were being fed porridge.

Prepared by Teresa Mellish
January 30 2009