kenya, day five: on feed the future, and an unexpected pride
Today was our last full day in Kenya, and on this day, we were focusing on agriculture and food security. Unsurprisingly, agriculture is key to livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa, employing nearly 2/3 of the population and accounting for about 1/3 of the region's gross domestic product. And so, needless to say, agriculture is one of the quickest ways to combat poverty: studies show that agricultural growth is two to four times as effective at reducing poverty as growth in other economic sectors.
And so, we drove several hours outside of Nairobi to Nakuru, to visit two farms: a dairy farm, and an Irish potato farm. These farms are protected by President Barack Obama's "Feed the Future Initiative," a groundbreaking strategy to make smart investments in farming, infrastructure and training so people from developing countries can lift themselves out of poverty by growing and selling food.
The drive was long and brutal, but once we arrived, we were greeted by -- you guessed it -- joyful song and dance.
Seriously, why doesn't the whole world start meetings like this?
Once we'd settled down, we learned that the first farm, the potato farm, was run by a collective of several farmers with the aim of marketing Irish potatoes. The presentation was incredibly informative, including a review of their mission, a description of how the potatoes were grown and quality controlled, and even a demonstration on how the potatoes were peeled.
Turns out I've been doing it wrong.
Then, the farmers shared with us a great meal, featuring several dishes made from potatoes.
It was a great learning experience, as was the visit to the dairy farm. And happily, the trips included viewings of several livestock.
Finally, after saying our goodbyes and thank-yous, we were able to board our bus again, in search of some lunch.
As we were driving along -- you know, just minding our own business -- the driver suddenly cried out. We followed his pointing finger.
Lying about, showing very little interest in us, in a field right next to the road, were these:
Are. you. kidding. me??
After I got over the shock (and believe me, it took a while), I suddenly realized these beauties epitomized exactly what this trip to Kenya was like: around ever corner, there was a happy surprise. It was such an honor to travel with ONE to see how the organizations for which they advocate -- organizations like Feed the Future, CDC/KEMRI, USAID, Carolina for Kibera and more -- are doing incredible work supporting the people of Kenya has the country overcomes its challenges and flourishes. This was a trip of a lifetime, and one that I will never, ever forget.
However, of course, all good things must come to an end, and tomorrow I begin making my way back to the Lone Star State, and my beautiful Marcus and Alex. The trip will take twenty-four hours, so I likely will land in Houston extremely jetlagged -- all this to ask for your patience as I re-acclimate to Houston time, with the understanding that my blog post will come a little late.
And of course, if you've enjoyed any of the images and stories this week, I invite you to become a member of ONE, below. Besides the fact that ONE organized a virtually flawless trip for us to see first-hand the beauty, hope and potential of Kenya, they are truly a class act. You can sign up below. And please, spread the word.
With that, see you stateside, friends.
To read previous posts, be sure to check out:
Day 2: On new life and joyous song
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I'm traveling to Kenya at the kind invitation and expense of The ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. ONE works to convince governments (the US, as well as others) to invest in smart programs that help to eliminate proverty and preventable disease in a sustainable way. This week, along with 9 other bloggers, I'll be bringing you images and stories of how the organizations for which ONE advocates are effecting real change in Kenya. If you're moved by anything you read here and you'd like to help, please consider adding your voice and join ONE by simply filling out the form below. Your information will remain confidential, I promise. And if you're already a member, and would still like to help, I'd love if you'd spread the word by sharing this post with your friends and followers.
(In addition, for fun, if you'd like to follow along on our trip and help by performing a "daily action" while we're here, be sure to check out the ONE Mom trip page.)
That's all there is to it. Because ONE never asks for your money, just your voice.
As always, thanks so much, friends.