This week has been an incredibly packed week in Ugenya. Nina, the local coordinator, and I have been working 12 hour days the entire week, and we’ve been moving around constantly. It’s been super exhilarating, and I’ve enjoyed it a great deal. I think I’m beginning to get a better handle on this idea of community development work. I’ve never done anything like this in my life, so it’s fantastic to have such hands-on experience.
For instance, we have been spending much of our time this week working on a banana farm that was planted here about 3 years ago. It hasn’t been doing so hot; in fact, it’s been virtually bleeding money in a number of places. The local facilitator first brought us up to date on the work that has been done there and how it has been cared for in the past. Then, we went out to see the caretaker of the plants, got a short tour of the farm (about 400 banana plants) and came back to compile the results. We looked through sheets and sheets of financial data to see what our biggest costs were, how we could cut our losses, and what we might innovate to save the farm. We called a local agronomist to consult about why the farm was not producing the way it should have been. We even met with a local business giant to listen to how he made his banana farm work and to try and get the title deed to the land he “donated” to us to start our own farm. That meeting, to say the very least, was extremely entertaining. We are now writing a 1-yr work plan to organize our findings so as to decide where to go from here. The banana farm is just one of the projects we have been working on while we have been here. It ends on Sunday when we go back to Nairobi for me to fly home. Having finally just gotten familiar with the area, I’ll be going home. But my brother finished his high school career yesterday and I want to be home to see him walk across the stage.