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””
Unbelievably, we are already halfway through our project in Kitui. So much has been achieved in this short time, but there is much still to be done, and no time to waste.
We were happy to welcome our friends Mark and Louise from CAFOD in the UK, who were able to see first-hand the hard work being done all around the project site, look out for their reflections in your next postal update.
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.