I have just finished working on a project for the Lee Sisters Foundation, partnered with the Wilson Kipsang Foundation. It was our job to build a small-scale chicken farm for a family in need.
Rebecca is a single Mum of 6, living in Kerio Valley, not far from Iten in western Kenya. The family live in conditions of extreme poverty and struggle to survive. A few years ago Rebecca and the children lost their father to HIV, also losing their income as well. Rebecca has tried to find work but living in a rural area there is not much work and she has no education. She has also tried to farm on her land but because of frequent aught her crops have been unsuccessful. This has caused them to live in extreme poverty, Rebecca has been unable to send her children to school and they often go days without food.
Unfortunately Rebecca’s closest family have abandoned her, not wanting the burden and so the family have survived off support from the good of the community.
At the beginning of this year the Wilson Kipsang Foundation paid the children’s school fees and bought them new shoes and school uniforms, providing the children with the education they deserve.
By building this small chicken farm for Rebecca and her family we aim to provide a sustainable source of food and income that Rebecca can learn to manage herself.
The last 3 days has seen this new promising chapter in the families life begin.
I was welcomed by the Wilson Kipsang Foundation, to join their team at dinner, even with my very own tribal outfit and jewelry to welcome me into their tribe and a cake!
Day 1 we were to set off from Eldoret at 9am to get a start on the project. If you have ever been to Kenya you will know that things do not always go to plan. Unfortunately, Justine, a member of the team and our driver had some car issues that we needed to get sorted before leaving. This pushed us back to an 11:30 departure. Never the less this just made us eager to work hard to get a good start on the project. We got stuck in straight away with the help of the whole family, neighbours and even the deputy chief.
We worked until dark, had the obligatory cup of ‘chai’ and took off back to the hotel to rest…….Or that was the plan. The weather had another idea- the dirt roads had turned to muddy slip and slides, not ideal for a small car like Justine’s. After drifting a few corners and trying to navigate the bushes in the dark the car slid into a very deep ditch. I could not stop laughing! really all I could do was laugh, a funny sight and couldn’t go back now. A lot of the community showed up to help, torches, rocks under the wheels and a lot of pushing didn’t get us very far, until someone finally showed un with a rope. We were to lucky that Wilson Kipsang was there in a Jeep and could pull us out and get us on our way… a 10:30pm dinner and then bed!
Day 2 was to be a lot more productive and we were hoping to get the farm finished today. We had a lot less hands on deck, being Monday the children were all back at school and the community was hard at work. Although Rebecca as always ways doing the hard work for her family, collecting firewood and water from the river- back breaking work!
We dug more holes for the fence posts, stretched the chicken wire, mixed cement, measured and cut wood, hammered what seemed like thousands of nails and before we knew it, it was getting dark. We pushed on and on in the desperate attempt to finish but at 8:30 had to make the call that we would have to come back tomorrow. We just weren’t happy with it being left unfinished. I cancelled my plans for the next day and we made the arrangements needed to go back again. We were all exhausted from a long day and thankfully made it back to the hotel for dinner without a problem. I stayed at the hotel while the team dispersed, we needed to arrange for the chickens to be collected from Eldoret and some more wood the next morning.
Day 3- I was picked up on the ‘boda boda’ (motorbike) and was first to the site. Of course Rebecca was already working, tidying up around the chicken coup and pulling weeds so I joined her while we waited for the fundi (carpenter) to arrive with the wood- also on the boda boda. We worked hard all day tidying up the rough edges, filling all the gaps, constructing the gate and ladder for the chicken coup- the chickens had still not arrived. Guess what? More car troubles! I had to laugh, when Justine had put the car in the ditch on the first night it put a hole in the radiator, causing it to over heat so they had to keep stopping to top up the water.
Eventually the car full of chickens arrived. I mean literally, loose chickens- 40 of them in the car! I couldn’t stop laughing, only in Kenya! We welcomed the chickens, and a couple of roosters into their new home and the project was complete! Just 1 day late, but it was perfect! I am so impressed with how it turned out. Even Rebecca, who had been working through a horrible toothache the last few days, was so happy!
The Wilson Kipsang Foundation have some team members who will support Rebecca, educating her on how to look after the chickens, sell the eggs and then bread chicks so that she can eventually sell chickens as well as eggs. Rebecca and her family will never go hungry again!
By the end of the project I was very emotional, to see this family prosper will be an amazing thing! And to give them the power in being able to do it themselves in a sustainable way without relying on any more handouts. I will be back to visit Rebecca in a month and cannot wait to see how her and the chickens are doing!
I am so proud of this project and the many more to come, with the focus being on sustainable empowerment, after all, donations eventually run out and these projects give people their dignity and independence back. If you would like to support more projects like this one please donate! The Wilson Kipsang Foundation has agreed to match donations dollar, for dollar up to $3000!