I can’t believe it’s been over two weeks since I left for Kenya with Whole Foods Market! To be honest I haven’t been looking forward to writing this post because I’m overwhelmed by all I’ve learned, saw, and experienced. I could literally write a novel about my trip but I’m going to give you the abridged version, broken down into organized sections! (ooooooo aahhhhhhhh)
One Acre Fund
After arriving in Nairobi we headed to Webuye to visit a community that was receiving regular microcredit loans, training on the latest farming techniques, and support from One Acre Fund which is one of the many organizations that the Whole Planet Foundation supports.
We were greeted by a group of women singing a welcome song wearing bright beautiful colours and big smiles. We then sat down to watch a regular meeting which is part of the One Acre Fund loan program.
There were about 8 leaders in the group who were responsible for 3-8 farmers each. That leader told their group about training sessions, loan repayment dates, and communicated with One Acre Fund on how each of the farmers was doing. The average loan for farmers in the program is $50 in which farmers have a season to pay it back. The loan includes seeds, free guidance, and incentives such as tools with timely repayment.
It’s one thing to hear or read about how micro credit loans have changed lives but it’s another to have a human being in front of you telling you how their families have gone hungry and communities were full of anger because there wasn’t enough food until they had access to better farming techniques and small loans. It truly was an unforgettable and moving experience.
The repayment rate for loans from the One Acre Fund is 98% from the 150,000 families who benefit from the program.
Kiambethu Tea Farm
One of the most surprisingly cool things we did was visit the Kiambethu Tea Farm where we learned how to pick tea leaves (only the top two leaves and the bud) and how all teas (green, black, and orange) all come from the same leaves! They differ in how they are oxidized.
I am truly daunted to try and communicate all the amazing things CTC International is doing in the community of Maai Mahiu. Their logo includes a hand print because each of the 5 fingers represents the 5 areas that they are working on developing: Education, Environment, Economy, Health and Community.
We met some of the children with disabilities that were now receiving an education because of CTC, some of the women in the communities who could now earn a living, and how their waste management program is cleaning up the garbage in the streets and neighborhoods.
One of the most exciting and fun things we got to do was projects on their brand new Ubuntu Cafe which will eventually be the location of their offices. The Bakery sits on 9.5 acres which includes farmland and plans for a soccer field.
We were lucky enough to build some benches for the cafe, paint the inside, do some landscaping, and taste some coffee from their new espresso machine (donated by Whole Foods Market!).
If you are going to Kenya you need to see this beautiful new cafe!
The crew in front of the CTC International Offices.The beautiful new CTC International Cafe.
The Whole Foods Market Crew after painting the floor.
Us in the Ubuntu Cafe after sipping the first coffee served there.
Me & Ruby Ruth, our gorgeous and gracious host.
LIFE Line Products are found in Whole Foods Market and not only empower some of the women in Maai Mahiu but also supprot the work of CTC International. It was amazing to see the 9 women who started out with LIFE Line who were surrounded by dozens of more women who had joined them as the organization grew.
Check out their fabulous products online HERE!!!
Ol Pejeta Conservancy
One of the highs of the entire trip was the safari through the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. 90,000 acres dedicated to wildlife that includes lions, cheetahs, hyenas, zebras, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, warthogs, and chimps. And we saw them all.
Select products by L.I.F.E. Line (which are sold by Whole Foods Market) support different programs in the conservation like the rhino conservation area. We met Barack the old blind rhino and some of the last white rhinos in the world.
We visited the chimp sanctuary there, which was started by Jane Goodall, and met some chimps that were smart enough to short circuit the electric fence there.