With all the talk of sand dams, check dams, tree planting and zai pits since our project started here in Kitui, you may be surprised to hear about the focus of one of the most recent training sessions held with our community: marketing!
A guest speaker from the Ministry of Agriculture came to talk to Kitui’s farmers about the best ways to sell their produce, and about the benefits of working as a collective when going to market. This kind of practical advice will ensure that the communities’ increased harvests bear even greater fruit.
Daniel Collins works in CAFOD’s Fundraising team focussing on our Hands On initiative.
One of the most exciting parts of my job is working on Hands On – a scheme which enables you to support a specific community as they undertake an ambitious project that will change their lives. Our first project in Kitui, Kenya, started one year ago, and aims to bring water to the community by transforming the local landscape.
One of the really interesting things about Hands On is that, because people’s donations go towards one specific project, and because we gather lots of information about the project to send out to Hands On supporters every month, it really creates a strong emotional bond between the Catholic community here in England and Wales and the community in Kitui. Something I have been very keen to do is to find ways for supporters to send their own messages of encouragement to Kitui.
Last Christmas everyone who had donated to Hands On was sent a card with a message from Kitui and a postcard where they could add their own personal Christmas message in response. The postcards were then sent on to Kenya where they were shared with members of the community and our local partners.
Mark Chamberlain is a communications officer with CAFOD. He travelled to Kitui in Kenya to record some of the work being done as part of Hands On, Kitui. Here he reflects on what makes the project so special.
We were walking through the old Musosya Dam in Kitui, Kenya and my first question wasn’t so much a question as a statement of disbelief, “So, in a few months’ time, this area will be full of water?’ Nicholas Oloo, my colleague from Nairobi, looked at me – a glint in his eye and an almost imperceptible smile, “In Kenya,” he said, “anything is possible.”
Stella lives in Kitui, Kenya, where our first Hands On project has been running for just over a year. Stella has been getting hands on with her community to rebuild a dam and bring water back to the area. She tells us about the progress her community have made.
Water in Kitui
The soil in Kitui is not good at capturing water and the land is bare and rocky. There isn’t much greenery around. Sometimes it can be rainy, but the long rains are in April, May and June. The short rains are in October, November and December. These are best for the soil because they refresh the earth.
Before the Hands On project, I could only harvest a small amount of land. We have a big water problem, but with the dam, we have a solution. The dam will solve my biggest problem – that of having to walk 7km to the Athi River for water.
As part of the Hands On project, I learned how to farm. I have dug terraces because they are good for the land. It will mean seeds don’t run down the hillsides and water doesn’t destroy the land. And I have planted crops using zai pits, which are made of vegetation, manure and soil. Continue reading “Hands On Kitui: “I am hopeful for the future””
With so much progress made already here in Kitui, it is important that the entire community really feels involved in the project and receives encouragement to keep going until all the work is done. To help this, we recently held elections to form a new project committee.
By giving more people the chance to exercise leadership, new ideas and suggestions are brought to the table, and we can ensure that our work here is as effective as possible.
Thank you as always for helping us get to where we are today, your thoughts and prayers mean so much.
We’ve been talking a lot about Hands On Kitui on social media. Why not share some posts with your friends to let them know about this special project?
Here in Kitui, the landscape is nearly unrecognisable, as more and more people are using their new hands on skills to improve their own land.
One such person is Stella, whose family have a small farm, and who has worked tirelessly to put all that she has been shown into practice. In this video she shows us around, and explains how her new skills are helping her farm thrive.
As we move into the second half of our two-year plan, progress continues at great pace. It’s full steam ahead for all aspects of the project – terracing, dam-building, zai pits and tree planting are going on all across Kitui.
One extremely important development is that people are taking their new skills and applying them to their own gardens and farms. This will help improve the land even further, and provide yet more food and income for the people.
Thank you so much for your continued support, it means the world to us, and please keep Kitui in your prayers.
Progress and project highlights this month
Did you know?
Kenya is home to many herbivorous animals including zebra, giraffe and a variety of antelopes – so it’s essential we build fences to protect the trees while they are young and fragile.
2015 is in full swing and so are the people of Kitui.
Everyone is hard at work on all aspects of the project – terracing, tree-planting, sand dams, check dams and preparing for work on the main Musosya dam.
Philip, the project coordinator for Hands On Kitui is pleased to say he’s back at work after a bad car accident. He’s sent a video to say thank you to everyone who sent cards and well wishes. If you want to send Philip a message, just let us know in the comments below!
Do you have a New Year’s resolution to do more DIY? The people of Kitui do! Their project is about so much more than sprucing up their home – it will make a huge difference to their lives. And it’s possible because of you, and the 1,500 other people who have been getting hands on. Thank you.
We hope you have received your second postal update along with your copy of our Side by Side magazine. If you’ve misplaced your letter, or haven’t recieved it, you can download the January update now.