From Nothing to PlentyJune 6, 2014 by Diana Coombs
“These are our children. Do not leave them.”
This was the plea given to Angelina before the parents of four children in her community died. With another 16 grandchildren to take care of, she was struggling.
She tried raising chickens to support her family and the orphans she took in. She purchased vaccines from local shops, but the medicine didn’t work. The chicks were lost, and eventually, she had no more chickens.
When Angelina heard about ELI’s extension training for farmers, she attended the first day to see if it could help her with poultry farming. After that first day, she promptly went out and bought a hen. From there, everything changed. Today, she has over 30 healthy chickens.
The extension training seeks to bring information where it’s most needed to poor farmers, giving them education and requiring practical, hands-on work in the field. The training, which runs for six months per session, takes in between 20-25 students per group and has reached 32 counties across Kenya. The mission is to train people to become “business farmers” – farmers equipped with relevant information on best agricultural practices as well as basic business principles – who are spiritually developed as well.
“We are bringing up the whole person,” as extension training leader Isaac Ruto puts it.
Throughout six months of training and fieldwork, Angelina did not lose a single chicken. From the program, she learned about local herbs that can be added to chicken feed as a natural way of protecting them from illness. She is able to keep her chickens healthy without the risk of trying expensive, store-bought vaccines that have failed in the past.
Through poultry farming and also vegetable farming, Angelina now brings in enough income to help cover school fees for her grandchildren and two of the four orphans (the other two have since gotten married and left). Her small shamba (farm) includes peppers, pumpkin, tomatoes, kale, and onions. What she doesn’t sell, she uses to feed her family, saving about 100 Kenyan Shillings (over $1) a day.
Angelina graduated from the extension training program this spring. Despite starting the program with nothing, she has come a long way. Her farm is thriving, her family is taken care of and her chickens are plenty.