Money raised at a spaghetti dinner, held this past July at All Saints Lutheran Church, paid shipping expenses for 11 50-pound bins of donated items with enough left to purchase a pump and irrigation pipe for a hard working native, Bernard.
Because of deaths (due to illness and war) of men in his extended family, Bernard is responsible for 32 people, 20 of them are children.
He found employment as a guard at a pharmaceutical company in Nairobi 100 miles from his home for $1 a day. The company has allowed him to use the land adjacent to the building for his shamba (garden). He had been given access to a well but needed a way to get the water to the garden approximately 1000 feet away. Some of the funds raised from the spaghetti dinner at All Saints were used to purchase a pump and irrigation pipe for Bernard to use to water his shamba. He was one of many who received Lake Valley seeds. This means food for his huge family and fresh vegetables to take to market to sell. He was thrilled and grateful for this unexpected gift.
Because of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture laws, leftover seeds at the end of each growing season cannot be sold the following year, so they are given to nonprofit organizations.
This is the third year that Lake Valley seeds, a wholesale flower, herb and vegetable seed company located in Boulder, CO, have found their way to Kenya through Kazi Yaki, a non-profit organization working with starving people in Kenya.
Lorinda Townsend is the daughter of All Saints members Bruce and Ada Boelter. Her other ties to All Saints started a few years back when she furnished a box of garden seeds to the church that were used in many ways for outreach to the community.
Lorinda’s trip expenses were paid by the Lake Valley Seed Company in Boulder where she is employed. Stella Shilders (Lorinda’s daughter) took time off from her work and paid her own expenses to accompany her mother on the trip.
They were met at the airport in Nairobi by Rick Roen, co-owner of Lake Valley Seeds and an expert in seed production in climates around the world. They also met Judy Pitt, Executive Director of Kazi Yaki who coordinated the mission, and Shem Okello of Nairobi, Kenya, volunteer coordinator for the Baptist Mission responsible for much of the coordination and contacts once the team was in the country. Their driver, chaperone, and tour guide was Pastor John.
They visited orphanages where they delivered seeds and school supplies. The roof at the boy’s dormitory needed repaired. By the team’s purchase of woven shawls made by native church women they were able to repair the roof. They visited several places including a factory where workers afflicted with HIV/AIDS were making ceramic beads and medallions to sell so they could be self-supporting.
Much of the time was used teaching villagers about farming techniques, cultivating, where and how deep to plant seeds, plant care, when to harvest and how to prepare the vegetables after harvest.
The people are so very hungry that they often eat produce before maturity. They were taught that by letting their vegetables grow production is increased. They are very familiar with field corn, a staple used to make corn flour. When introducing sweet corn, it was necessary to instill the idea to pick it much earlier that field corn. Seeds were distributed at each of the villages where lessons were taught.
The area visited is two degrees south of the equator with 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of dark year round. Drought is common, rain is rare. Highlands receive more water than the lowlands, but runoff leaves little for human consumption and gardens. In most cases water must be hauled great distances. Water conservation is vital and drought-tolerant vegetable varieties are selected for shipment.
“It was the most amazing trip that I have ever taken,” Lorinda said, one that she and her daughter will never forget.
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