There are some things that are almost too wonderful for words. Let me try to explain one of them.
Today, we visit a project we started a couple of years ago with one warehouse on a small farm called Portriez. The warehouse produced tomatoes by the bucketfuls and we got super excited. With what we learned, we decided to expand the project to a larger piece of land – 50 acres, in a place called Lunga Lunga (LL), outside of Mombasa. AFCA put in a borehole and an organic greenhouse and we hit the ground running.
While I’d visited when the borehole was installed, I hadn’t been back to LL since 2013. Today, I am back, with Fred and Karina in tow. We arrive at LL and I stand amazed. I feel my mouth hang open and my jaw is somewhere hitting my chest. This place is incredible! Because Portriez developed some sort of fungus that was killing tomatoes, we moved the warehouse to LL. Now, standing before me, are two huge greenhouses and they are surrounded by rows and rows of green peppers, onions, kale, spinach, hot peppers, cassava, and all sorts of veggies. On the front of the farm, there is a huge plot of corn, with more reaching out to the left of where I stand, as far as I can see. Dotting the land are banana trees, papaya trees, and passion fruit and cucumber vines.
I am so thrilled. So beyond thrilled! This project has every making of a successful entrepreneurship which will provide funds for our supported medical and school programs here in Mombasa. My goal is that once this farm is making a profit, they will not only pay the salaries of the men who work this land tirelessly, but that it will cover costs currently covered by AFCA: school fees, uniforms and shoes for the children, medical supplies, Kids Days, and nutritional support.
The farm manager, Daniel, is as excited as a little kid, answering every single question I have (I have many of them), both professionally and knowingly. He is excited to be part of something that isn’t only growing nutritious veggies and fruit which will benefit the local economy and people, but he is motivated to be part of something much larger. This is not just a farm. This is a farm with a purpose: to allow CBHC to not need AFCA anymore. This, in turn, means that AFCA can start our work elsewhere, where no one else is working and where needs are desperate.
We have a long way to go and I don’t kid myself about that. But, today’s visit is just a breath of fresh air – it is working. This idea of a farm which will provide food for malnourished children in the CBHC program, which will provide food at subsidized cost to mothers who are starting their own small vegetable businesses, and which will allow CBHC to become self-sustaining – it is working!
The big concern raised a few times today is the need for a truck, which will help lug all the veggies and fruit to market. Right now, they are using a motorcycle, which is not going to be adequate in August when both the tomato and the corn harvest happen. One thing is to move leafy greens on the back of a motorcycle…another one is to move 300 pounds of tomatoes per week! I am trying to think creatively to see what we can do while we try to raise the funds needed for such a huge purchase. If anyone out there has great ideas, let me know!