Monday, February 17, 2014

Breast examination

One of our volunteers in Kenya, Janet Dykerman,  is a mammogram technologist on Prince Edward Island.
Since breast cancer is all too common in Kenya, we asked her to explain to women how to check their breasts for lumps or changes in their breasts.
When we held focus groups or had other meetings, Janet met with small groups of 10 people or less for a half-hour and explained why and how they should check their breasts regularly for any changes.  She gave them a fact sheet she had compiled and she had a synthetic breast they could examine for lumps.
She told them she was not a medical doctor and that if they found changes in their breasts they should consult a medical doctor. 
All women were very appreciative and told us they had not been told this previously.   

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Gathering information

By Teresa Mellish
On this visit to Kenya we  gathered  information for the final report on the Food Security project.

One way of doing this was to interview women on their shambas (farms). It’s a wonderful opportunity to see their screenhouses and greenhouses.
We randomly select the women and then travel to their farms.
They are always cooperative and willing to answer our questions. They always offer us tea and frequently give us a few eggs, some mangoes, passion fruit, a few pieces of sugar cane or some delicious plums.   All we have to give them is a 2014 calendar.   
Here are two pictures- one of Ilse interviewing a woman on her shamba (with Salome translating)  and the other of fruit we were given over a couple of days.

Training on financial record keeping

Ron Herbert, a retired accountant and a volunteer with Farmers Helping Farmers,  taught two classes of basic financial record keeping to the Directors of five dairies we work with in Kenya.

The approach he took was to show the farmers how they could keep financial records on their own shambas.    He developed the curriculum for 4 sessions for each dairy and a Kenyan will teach the other two sessions. 
We have tried to have Kenyan accountants teach accounting and they try to make accountants out of our partners by making it too complicated.
 Even though most farmers don’t like bookkeeping, it’s a necessary part of any business, including farming.   The Kenya dairy farmers were appreciative of the training- they even did their homework between the two sessions!!
One of the attached pictures shows a few farmers discussing the training. They are seated under a large avocado tree near Karatina which provides shade- it is the most pleasant classroom in the world. The other one shows Ken Mellish presenting a laptop computer to the Dairy Chairman so they can start computerizing their milk records.  This laptop was donated to us.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Imagine the excitement of unveiling three Village Feast cookhouses

Village Feast members, Jolyne Sharkey and Ilse Peters-Ching were excited to open three cookhouses at three schools during the past couple of weeks.
The construction of the  cookhouses and the energy efficient cookers were paid for by the Village Feast over the past few years.
The cookhouse is a kitchen where the morning porridge and the lunch stew are prepared and served to the school children.   The children’s parents provide the maize and beans for the stew and Farmers Helping Farmers with their partner DFATD support  a school garden to produce vegetables for the stew with funds from the Village Feast for the school gardeners wages.
The three schools are all primary schools with over 200 children at each school  from nursery to standard 8.
The schools are all twinned with Island schools as follows:
Mitoone Primary School  is twinned with West Kent Consolidated School
King’O Primary School is twinned with Gulf Shore Consolidated School
Marinya-a-Ruibi Primary School is twinned with Margate  Pastoral Charge 
During their time in Kenya Ilse and Jolyne also visited four other cookhouses sponsored by the Village Feast.
Thank you Village Feast! You are making a huge difference in the lives of the school children at these schools.


We visited Shaad Olingo's farm

By Teresa Mellish

Last weekend, Ken, John, Eddy and I visited Shaad Olingo’s farm in Muhoroni.  I know that all of the people who have volunteered in Kenya over the past 30 years  with Farmers Helping Farmers know Shaad and will recall his wonderful hospitality.  We tell all of our volunteers to feel free to ask Shaad anything- because there is nothing he has not been  asked before by Canadians!

Anyway back to the farm, Shaad’s farm, called GAD-Hortec (named after his three sons) is a two hour drive from Nakuru on the highway to Kisumu.  It has black soil and most important, it has lots of water!!!
He is presently growing bananas, mangoes and papaya.  He has also grown tomatoes, onions, kale and potatoes.
He wants to dig a pond to store the water and then irrigate his crops with the stored water.  
The area where his farm is located  in Nyanza county – we saw fields of sugar cane and we learned that the county is food deficient so he should have no trouble selling the food he produces.
It was a wonderful farm which Shaad was delighted to show us.


Eddy Dykerman discusses vegetable production with Gikundi

Brookfield Gardens Eddy Dykerman shared his vast experience in vegetable production with Gikundi M'Muguna , the horticulturist with the Muchui Womens Group in Kiirua  this week.  Gikundi visited Brookfield Gardens for a week in the summer of 2013 when he visited PEI.
The project funded by DFATD and the Andreas Baur Foundation aims to improve food security and  includes the production of vegetables in screenhouses and greenhouses.  
Eddy was with a team of 11 volunteers with Farmers Helping Farmers who are working in Kenya for three weeks.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Cattle and Chaos Collide –A Veterinary Students Experience in Kenya

On one of our favourite days in Kenya so far, we had a walk-in clinic organized by the Muchui Women’s Group in conjunction with Dr. John van Leeuwen and his veterinary students, with the help of StephenChandi and LeahKarioki, FHF’s in-country staff.Locals brought their cattle to be dewormed or treated for suspected illness. In this area of Kenya,cattle are grazed in a pastoral style system.

The day wasorganized chaos- people yelling, cattle running around on the loose, bulls fighting in the holding pen, cows jumping over and breaking through gates. It was awesome! We saw over 400 animals and it was very rewarding and felt as though we were making a very big impact. We divided into two groups, one group deworming and the other examining and treating sick cattle. Both spots were very enjoyable. It was interesting to see the variety of cattle breeds: Brahman, Zebu, Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey and every combination.We sawmany diseases that we don’t encounter back in Canada, mostly tick-borne diseases such as East Coast Fever (Theileriosis) and Anaplasmosis, along with conditions caused by overexposure to sun, such as cataracts.

Over the course of our three weeks in Kenya, we are educating farmers on nutrition, milk quality and animal care.At the walk-in clinic, we gained a greater appreciation of the problems faced by smallholder cattle farmers in Kenya and are looking forward to making the most of our remaining two weeks in the country.




Michael, Alexander and Marianne – Senior Veterinary Students from the Atlantic Veterinary College.