In the village of Miwani in western Kenya, you’ll find 23 garden beds, teeming with veggies and fruit, all tended by HIV+ mothers. Kale, onions, potatoes, spider plants, tomatoes, peppers, and so much more is grown in this plot, helping achieve one of the goals of this project: help an orphanage become self-sustaining. Children there now eat balanced meals, complete with green, white, yellow, red, and orange veggies and fruit and the excess is sold in the open market. Part of the proceeds go back into the project while the rest is used to help run the orphanage. Win-win!
The fair wages earned by the women who work the land is another goal that is being met by the project, as we want the workers to have ability to keep their children in school, to feed themselves and their family well, and to save some money for emergencies.
During AFCA’s site visit last month, we talked to different women working in the garden and without hesitation, they all say that this project has been a game changer for them and for their families. The seven women who work here have a 3-day work week and that was done on purpose – the short work week allows the women to spend time doing what they need to do at home and, as they are HIV+ the short week keeps them from overtaxing their bodies. Proudly wearing bright yellow shirts that say GARDEN PROJECT on their back, they mulch, water, weed, prepare new land, sow, plant, harvest. Striking up a conversation with two women, I ask what the project means to them and they explain that they and the children eat from the money earned. That their children are in school. That their household has seen improvements. I ask if they are paid in shillings or in vegetables and they smile, saying that their pay is in cash, daily, at the end of the workday. They do not receive vegetables from these gardens for free, as their wages are good. Instead, they can purchase any food they want, whether at market or here. Like many community members, they opt to buy veggies from here, placing orders that are fulfilled throughout the day.
This is a fabulous project that is giving people the dignity of work, children and families the ability to eat well and to stay in school, and the joy of sharing the bounty with others, including children in an orphanage. These children are eating better than ever before and because of it, they are healthier and stronger. Talk about making an impact!
Joshua has been instrumental in helping carry the Restoring Hopes gardening project forward, lending his construction skills to the women as needs arise. In this photo, he and Tanya are leaning against racks made for storing excess food in the storage granary funded by AFCA.