So far in Kenya, though I love being here, I haven’t really felt a strong sense of purpose. There are those days when I do and those days are awesome, and are increasing. Good days are when I feel that I have accomplished something, or had some positive impact. I felt this way last Saturday when participating in our Saturday program activities which usually involved playing games (pretty sure every child in Gilgil now knows how to play Red Rover) and doing some kind of educational activity with a group of sponsored children. The previous Saturday we had brought vegetables from one of the schools in the area with a large successful garden and showed the children how to prepare the food and talked about the importance of healthy eating. The children made me very nervous as they wielded knives and fought over who would chop the cabbages, sukuma wiki (kale), onions, and tomatoes. Fortunately none of the kids were injured in the process and they succeeded in cooking a wholesome meal which they seemed quite pleased with, perhaps especially so because the usual Saturday program food is just porridge.
So this past Saturday we wanted to get these kids even more excited in growing food for themselves. This is a bit tricky since most are from urban areas with little space for growing so we decided to use some of the creative techniques which we are trying at the Saidia children’s home. We brought a large sack of compost and soil, some seedlings and a bunch of old plastic bottles and a rice sack. The children were really excited and attentive, and all of them wanted to get their hands in the dirt to help mix the soil or to fill the bags. In the end we created two water efficient and space saving planters, with one cabbage, two Sukuma wiki plants and six spinach plants in our rice sack and seven spinach plants in our vertical planter. I am hopeful that the interest the kids showed will translate into action, however if not now then I still think that doing such activities with kids can help in the future. This week we are having a workshop with many of the parents of these kids and demonstrating the same techniques, along with others. Getting entire families on board is how I see more sustainable change happening in Gilgil to make people more resilient and food secure. Many of the children said they wanted to do the same projects at home so that they could eat more sukuma, and that they had the resources to build more bottle towers. In the end I hope at least that the kids had as much fun getting their hands in the soil as I did, and maybe some of them will have a deeper interest in their food, from beginning to end.