Update prepared by Joash Barasa Wakhungu
Permaculture brought the light/awareness in the community to single mothers/widows and elderly women and men to produce pure organic food by using local material, including manure, seeds, and compost. Permaculture has a simple methodology of practicing farming without using any harmful or commercial fertilizers to grow food.
Now there are more people learning permaculture. For example, there is a group of workers from Kericho county who visited Sr Celestine’s place to learn permaculture. These were women that were affected by HIV/AIDS, and they needed to rely on proper food to fight against harm and build immunity in their bodies.
These workers realize that only permaculture is the right path to practice farming in the community and only permaculture deals with diversity and care for the people. These women suffer stigmatization within their community. That is why these representatives visited Sr. Celestine’s place to learn permaculture.
And most of the people from different communities are starting to fear the food that some farmers are producing because they use strong chemicals. That’s why some people are realizing that only permaculture is the right path to produce healthy food.
Through permaculture, the lives of whole families are changing. For example, Christine has eight children and she’s a single mother, a widow. As well, she is living in a rental house because she has no place to stay with the children. From permaculture there is food on the table and her children are going to school every day with no absences.
This is happening because of permaculture in this community. The children are performing well in school. In the morning hours they take breakfast before leaving for school and lunch too. This is why these children have improved in school. Christine’s health has improved from eating healthy organic food. This is bringing her peace of mind. When I say that permaculture brought change in the community, I mean it because I know what is happening on the ground.
This applies to Monica too who has an equal number of children and some of them are orphans. Despite having a big family, permaculture has helped her by getting fresh food from our ICO site, especially green veggies. Both Christine and Monica are working in the ICO permaculture sites. At the end of every week, they each receive 2,500 shillings so they can deal with other basic needs.
Permaculture brought the idea of crop rotation and diversity. People in Kisii Ndogo used to plant only one crop per year. Once permaculture was implemented, they learned intercropping to have food throughout the year. In permaculture we do not recognize one season of planting, rather we believe it is having a productive site throughout the year. And this kind of farming suits Kisii Ndogo well because they do not have a big size of land. Through permaculture they learn to utilize and minimize space, and for those who have hardly any land permaculture provides a solution by coming up with multi-story gardens using polythene bags to produce a productive garden around their doorsteps.
And everything is progressing well because of ICOs efforts and you are toiling to ensure that food in each community is secured. To save people we do not need to save the whole world or the whole village. If you save a few of them then you have done what is in your capability and power. ICO has changed an impossibility to a possibility.
In Kisii Ndogo site and Bahati site (Sr Celestine) throughout the year the community is enjoying the fruits of permaculture. Because it is easy to practice permaculture, more people are starting to see sense in practicing this kind of farming.
And we believe that it is better to have two or three permaculture sites well implemented and monitored, rather than moving from one place to another place. I am on the ground to monitor everything that both Mr. Mark and Josanne Holland implemented. I do understand the vision, mission, objectives, and goals, so I work hard to ensure no misfortune happens. In addition, whoever extended his hand included ICO members, friends of Mark and Josanne, who wanted to see good progress of permaculture in the community. Every single coin that has been budgeted and spent for East Africa Permaculture is countable.
Also, on our permaculture sites we are still facing challenges. For example, last month (November) thieves snuck inside the permaculture site two times in daylight. They stole cabbages and kale and now the number of thieves is increasing because the cost of living here in Kenya is high and the price of green veggies seeds also is high. Some people from the community decided to steal and now they steal during the day, not at night.
In addition, the percentage of poverty is increasing because the population is increasing, and the cost of living is expensive. During this long holiday because the children are at home families need enough food to sustain themselves. Permaculture helped the community a lot, but the population is high and when the rate of population is high the demand is also high.
I take this chance with kind regards to say thank you for what you have done this year. I know you put in a lot of sacrifice to ensure that what we implemented on the ground is progressing well. May the almighty God grant you many more years and good health.